Legal Directors for SMEs and PLCs
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Legal Directors for SMEs and PLCs

Legal Directors – a 3rd way

Businesses traditionally have had two choices when it comes to getting legal advice. Firstly, they consult an external law firm and pay on an hourly basis, usually somewhere between £250 and £400 per hour. The second choice would be to employ an in-house lawyer to work on an ongoing basis, whether part time or full time, but to be there as part of the business at all times and being paid accordingly.

Legal Platforms and Alternative Solutions

In the present day, with the advent of online legal platforms and flexible ways of working, both of these options are a bit antiquated to a certain extent as there is an alternative solution out there which can save your business substantial amounts of money. Using interim lawyers as legal directors or simply a resource to tap into as and when needed, can save your business substantial amounts of money, time and effort, and it is a very easy way of working with the legal profession for businesses.

Non-Regulated Legal Work

Appointing a legal director or using ad hoc legal business lawyer resources does not work for all areas of law and this is important to bear in mind, because certain types of law really need to be dealt with by an external solicitors’ firm. However there are vast areas of legal expertise that can be tapped into at a considerably lower rate than it would cost you if you went to one of the larger commercial law firms based in London, Birmingham or Manchester.

Interim Lawyers

Interim Lawyers is an online legal platform with a database of over 1300 locum and consultant solicitors, lawyers and barristers with many years of expertise in specific areas. This resource can be tapped into as and when required, because quite a lot of these locums and consultants are very happy to work on an ad hoc basis. It is almost like having a zero hours solicitor working for your business and not being paid when they are not actually required.

Tech Company with Fluid Legal Requirements

Take a recent example. We have been working with a tech company for the past nine months, providing legal consultants and solicitors as and when required. The first work the company CEO needed was somebody who was able to assist the business with a number of commercial contract reviews over a period of about three to four months. The company knew they needed the contracts reviewing and so they secured the expertise of one of our consultants who is a specialist dealing with those specific types of commercial contracts. She provided them with the support they needed over a period of about six months and is still there to be tapped into as and when needed.

The business had a couple of large litigation matters pending that they needed in-house support with the preparation of the cases, and to work with their external counsel to prepare two matters for court. We were able to supply them with a fairly junior commercial litigation solicitor who is working on an ongoing basis to assist specifically with these cases, which usually seem to take up about five to 10 hours a week.

The business were also in need of assistance from someone with experience of a specialist alternative investment market in view of a future flotation, and we were able to put them in touch with a legal consultant with the specific experience of that particular stock market, who again is working with them on an ongoing basis as and when needed.

The company have also been in touch to get external support dealing with the creation of an EOT (Employee Ownership Trust), and we have a consultant who has specific expertise in setting these up as well as strong testimonials from clients he has already worked with on this basis.

At the same time our sister site, Ten Percent Financial has been able to provide the company with specialist finance directors, financial controllers and more junior accountants to again work as and when needed on specific projects relating to the various companies within the group and their activities.

£100 Per Hour Maximum

Not one of these consultants has been paid more than £100 per hour, and the usual rate for most types of work, provided it is not too specialist, is around the £55 to £70 per hour. It’s very rare to see anybody working in this sphere to be charging more than about £85 per hour, and that will be for someone very experienced working at the top end on highly specialist matters.

Head of Legal/Legal Director

Although the company above did not appoint any of these particular consultants to be head of legal or listed on their site, this was also an option that could have been considered. Most consultants are happy to be listed on your website, provided they are getting work from you, to show your customers and suppliers that you are a serious player in whatever you are doing.

Future Option

This, we suspect, is going to be the future for quite a lot of methods of delivery of legal advice, as the cost of using an external law firm for SMEs and smaller PLCs can be very prohibitive. It is usually one of the conversations we have with CEOs of companies who say that they would love to have a legal opinion on something but they are very wary as to how much they’re going to get charged in order for that to be provided.

With Interim Lawyers working on a platform basis and our lawyers providing ad hoc advice as and when needed, you will know exactly how much advice is going to cost because the lawyer dealing would be able to tell you how many hours they expect to be spending on a particular piece of work or project. You retain complete control over the time spent and the hourly rates are not eye-watering to start.

Summary

The benefits of having your own legal adviser linked to your business include your reputation, status, cost savings, time freed up for your CEO who no longer needs to be spending hours deliberating over legal issues and can instantly farm them out to someone else to look at. You also have that level of expertise as a steadying hand to your business to make sure that issues do not arise that are easily preventable in the first place. If you would like a quotation for ongoing business advice from a lawyer, please get in touch.

Jonathan Fagan is a legal recruitment consultant for Interim Lawyers and Managing Director of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited. "I have been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years. I am a non-practising solicitor, on the Roll since June 2000, and also a director of the Ten-Percent Group of Legal Recruitment websites. I also regularly comment on legal recruitment via my blog https://www.legalrecruitment.blogspot.co.uk. Interim Lawyers is the specialist locum arm of the Ten-Percent group and we have over 1100 locums on the books. We can usually keep our locums busy throughout the year, although it does very much depend on the market and fields of law. Get in touch with me to register assignments or look for locum work."