This post is a follow-up to our previous post about the debate for growing companies and grown-up companies regarding whether to hire legal general counsel or outsource the company’s legal needs to an outside firm. Here at Smiley Law Firm, we assist companies from small start-ups all the way up to Fortune 500 companies with their legal needs.

If done properly, the relationship between in-house or general counsel and outside counsel can be a fruitful one for the company. Further, I believe that if a company needs to choose between in-house and outside counsel, it is always smart to have outside counsel who can focus on specific needs of the company in an efficient and competent manner.

The Many Scenarios Your Company Is At Risk Without Outside Counsel On Your Team 

You have great confidence in your company and for good reason. You’ve spent countless hours building a great culture, recruiting A players, training your team to win, and systematizing operations. But sometimes even the best people get overloaded. As they say, if left uncontrolled, work will flow to a competent team until everyone drowns.

Maybe marketing and sales have been on steroids recently, and you’re getting flooded with too many clients on short deadlines. You just don’t have the resources to get it all done without asking your people to sacrifice their weekends (and sanity) on the altar of these projects.

Or maybe an amazing team member left to take a job overseas… just days after another fantastic team member announced that she needs to take maternity leave during the biggest seasonal increases of the year.

Or perhaps your team is stuck doing work outside their core competencies because the higher-ups are more concerned with cash flow than with whether you and your team can get the job done.

Here are some signs that it may be time to call in the cavalry—that is, to recruit a remarkable Louisiana construction law firm to prevent mistakes from happening, review any areas of risk, follow up on payment issues with vendors and clients, and review all of the important legal documents and procedures that your company uses daily.

Fitful Results

In an ideal world, you’d produce excellent results, time and again, in a predictable way. Maybe that used to be the case, but not so much since marketing flooded your team with a zillion new matters. Now your office resembles less a fine-tuned machine than the out of control candy assembly line from the famous I Love Lucy episode.

When we get busy, mistakes can happen and procedures that were once second nature get skipped leading to costly errors. This is business and the next crisis is always looming around the corner. Your general counsel may not have the bandwidth to handle a legal issue reaches crisis level.

Have a smart and diligent team of attorneys sitting ready in your corner to make sure you are protected from the pitfalls the business world may throw your way.

You’re Turning Away Good Leads

It’s so frustrating to turn away profitable work because key staff are on vacation or already booked solid. Lost opportunity costs don’t sting as badly as lost business, but the consequences for the bottom line are similar.

Don’t turn away those leads just because you feel like it may be too risky or that your company is not prepared. Have a legal team in place to make sure you comply with the law and then move forward with growing your business.

You’re Constantly Improvising to Satisfy Clients

Maybe you represent developers on real estate projects, but you only provide partial construction solutions. They need more than what’s on your menu, but you don’t want them to leave and develop relationships with could-be competitors. So instead, you cling to them by volunteering to do work you have no business doing—just so you can “keep them happy.” This is a clear signal that you need to team up with people whose competencies can fill in where yours left off.

Prepare today so that you can be ready tomorrow. There’s no need to keep expensive in-house counsel on the payroll when you can have a team of attorneys waiting to help advise you when business heats up.

You’re Getting Employee Complaints—Directly or Indirectly

Managing people is tricky and non-intuitive. Employees who are unhappy with a crushing workload or frustrated because they’re being put to use on jobs that feel “impossible” won’t necessarily complain in person.

Instead, they might secretly give up on your firm and dial in their performance. Or they might give you 110%… up until the morning they stride into your office to give two weeks’ notice. In other words, don’t expect your employees to sound the alarm. Instead, observe their behavior.

  • Is gossip increasing?
  • Is discipline falling off?
  • Are you seeing higher than standard rates of turnover in your department that cannot easily be explained?

These actions could be signs that your people are overwhelmed and that you need to call in reinforcements.

It is normal to outsource your legal needs to a competent law firm who can handle the issues quickly and competently. Don’t let legal be a need for your human resources department to fill.

Your Clients are Hinting That What You Have is Not Enough

Like employees, clients won’t boldly, brashly tell you what’s missing. At least not usually. Instead, they will signal alarm through action. For instance, they’ll express displeasure at “lackluster” performance from a normally excellent employee on your team. (Upon probing, you realize that the complaint arose because your employee lacked skills/experience in a key area of interest to the client.)

Or maybe an employee will complain to you (or gossip to colleagues) about some “unfair” big ask from a client. The client’s request may not be the problem. The real issue is that no one on the team has what’s needed to satisfy this reasonable request.

Solving the Problem at Its Root – Hire Outside Counsel

Your people depend on you to manage them humanely, sensitively and strategically. If your managers and their support staff are overwhelmed, it’s on you. You need to identify the true cause of the frustration and fix it.

As you do your due diligence, probe, and brainstorm solutions, you may discover that it’s time to interview outside counsel. Our team at Smiley Law Firm has extensive experience assisting many types of companies in Louisiana construction and business law matters. We would welcome the opportunity to connect. We can help you grow, shoulder the increased workload and reduce office stress. Please call us for a consultation at (504) 894-9653.

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