What Different Offerings Can Outside In-House Counsel Provide?
In the last installment of the series, I talked about why in-house counsel are adopting a new approach to servicing their clients in our shifting legal marketplace. In this second part, I’ll be discussing the services that this new breed of outside in-house counsel is able to provide and how they can make it work for their clients.
No two attorneys approach these new arrangements exactly the same. As discussed in my last post, Bernard Williams of Company Counsel offers clients customized legal services to suit their needs, covering issues like business formations, contract drafting and negotiation, mergers and acquisitions, litigation, trademark and patent prosecution, and counseling on HR matters and employment rights. For these services, he charges a fixed monthly fee tailored to their specific needs as they change, allowing them to receive the legal help they need with the assurance of known legal costs for their monthly budgets.
Allen Rodriguez of One400.com created a flat-fee legal plan three years ago that offers unlimited legal advice over the telephone, document reviews, access to a legal forms library, and reviews of documents up to ten pages. Clients also get access to Traklight for use of a business assessment tool and storage for their business documentation, as well as an annual business check-up, a 25% discount on additional legal services not covered in the plan, and access to legal software to tackle other issues.
And there are countless variations on that new model. Garrett Perdue of Perdue Law PLCC offers trusted advisor work, including economic development, commercial real estate, and government relations, at lower rates due to technology that helps reduce his costs. The Counsel for Creators team offers legal services for creative types and companies that includes basic contract reviews, attorney phone calls, assorted legal tasks, and discounts on substantive legal services, for $95 a month. Juliet Peters of Framework Legal handles corporate transactional work including formation, contracts, joint ventures, licenses, trademarks, and franchises, with a focus on mergers and acquisitions. Juliet prefers flat fees to provide clients with certainty, similar to Nimbus Legal.
While the specific services provided may change, what most of these offerings have in common is a fee structure far different from the traditional model that clients avoid. How outside in-house counsel choose to change up their fee structure depends both on what they feel is sustainable, and what works for the clientele that they are looking to work with. Some of the different types of fee structures offered are monthly retainers for outside GC or for all legal services, a flat fee charged per month, per year, or on a per-project basis, a subscription-based model paid per month or per year, a per-hour project fee structure with the billable hours capped, or a performance-based contingency. Many large companies (think Uber or Snapchat) are demanding outside law firms provide flat fee arrangements.
What all these different offerings and pricing have in common is the ability to attract new clients: companies trained by the new economy to be more discerning about value and willing to shop around until they find what they’re looking for.
In the next part of the series, I’ll offer up some tips for attorneys looking to implement new models into their own practices.