Fractional General Counsel: legal support for scaling businesses
Business growth inevitably brings legal complexities. With your business speeding towards success, you're considering the transition from relying on external counsel to building your in-house legal function. But is hiring a full-time lawyer the right move? Or is there a more flexible, cost-effective solution? Let us introduce you to the concept of Fractional General Counsel (FGC).
FGC is an in-house legal solution tailored to your needs. Fractional General Counsel aren’t full-time employees. Typically they work 15-30 hours per month; but they're there when you need them. They manage your operational legal needs at a volume and monthly price that makes sense for your business.
These legal professionals are a godsend for scaleups and fast-moving enterprise clients. They serve as your in-house legal team and tackle everything from enterprise contracts, employment and HR to corporate governance. The result is often a freed-up executive team, reduced risk and increased deal velocity.
In-house vs. external legal support
Your business's relationship with your Fractional General Counsel is fundamentally different from an external legal provider (i.e. a traditional law firm). While an external legal provider offers valuable expertise, they often don’t have the same depth of understanding of your business, your risk tolerance, or your objectives. They can also be less responsive than you might like — especially when it comes to your day-to-day operational legal needs like commercial contracts, regulatory compliance and employment matters.
External legal service providers are often unresponsive because they’re focused on major legal milestones like financings and M&A transactions, so they can be slower to respond to operational legal matters.
"There's a reason that every large enterprise eventually builds an in-house legal team — to ensure their legal work is dealt with quickly, cost-effectively, and in tune with the overarching business objectives of the organization. That last piece, deeply understanding the business, is perhaps the greatest benefit of having an in-house legal function," says Brett Colvin, co-founder and CEO of Goodlawyer.
Fractional General Counsel do much more than just fill a void; they quickly become integral members of your executive team, saving you time and money, and adding a business lens to the legal problems you face on a daily basis. They integrate into your operations by adopting a company email, joining your Slack, or using whatever communication tool works best for your team. They can also design processes to speed up your legal processes.
Many scaleups rely on Fractional General Counsel to manage the fast-paced operational legal needs and retain their external counsel on certain matters, particularly milestone events like funding rounds or M&As. In such cases, the FGC and external counsel can coexist and even become greater than the sum of their parts. The shared language of lawyers makes it easy for FGCs to collaborate and guide external counsel on business objectives and broader context.
The value proposition of Fractional General Counsel
Patrick Veilleux, a Fractional General Counsel at Goodlawyer, exemplifies the value of an FGC. Following five successful years at Shopify as Director of Legal, and stints on Bay Street and with the federal government, Veilleux missed the thrill of working with fast-growing Canadian scaleups. So in 2023, he joined Goodlawyer’s FGC ranks.
In Patrick’s words, "Being a Fractional Counsel enables me to provide sophisticated scaleup clients with both legal and strategic insights. The opportunity to be at the table during critical planning sessions empowers me to identify risks and opportunities proactively and help my clients chart the best path forward. It's also been incredibly rewarding to leverage my past experiences to help support some of the most exciting technology businesses in the country.”
5 Reasons why your business needs Fractional General Counsel
- Tailored Arrangement: FGC allows you to design the scope, cadence and volume of legal support. Engagements are customized to your needs to best address pain points and capitalize on opportunities. Alignment with your company’s culture is imperative, and Goodlawyer allows you to meet and interview candidates to ensure the right fit.
- Specialized Expertise: FGCs typically have 10+ years of legal expertise and specific knowledge relevant to your industry. They understand your sector, your competitors, your regulators, and other stakeholders who can be key to your growth journey.
- Freed-up Executives: CEOs, CFOs, and COOs often find themselves responsible for their organization’s legal function, spending valuable time managing external counsel and deciphering what is (and isn’t) in a contract. A Fractional General Counsel becomes your dedicated internal legal lead, freeing up executives and ensuring more efficient resource allocation.
- Agile and Cost-Effective: Full-time in-house counsel brings substantial commitment and costs – salaries, benefits, office space, administrative burden and more. By contrast, FGC engagements offer a stable fee structure and immediate value.
- Scalable: As your business grows, you can easily scale the engagement to match your expanding needs. Increase the monthly hours of your Fractional General Counsel, or add a Fractional In-House Counsel. If you find your needs reduced, engagements can be downsized.
Navigating toward Fractional General Counsel
Want to learn whether Fractional General Counsel might suit your business? Click the button below to set up a conversation with a senior member of the Goodlawyer team. We'll explore your legal requirements, analyze your annual legal budget, and determine if you need industry specialists or senior legal expertise. Our team will also introduce you to vetted candidates tailored to your business. A pilot engagement can allow you to gauge the efficacy of this model for your growing business.
With the dynamism of your scaleup and the legal intricacies that come with growth, it's essential to have legal counsel who understands your business and can respond quickly to your needs. The value lies in your FGC’s ability to provide both legal and strategic insights, like a dedicated in-house team, but at a fraction of the cost. Explore Goodlawyer's Fractional General Counsel services and discover how this innovative legal solution could boost your scaleup's journey.