Any outside general counsel engagement begins with an initial consultation to determine the current business needs. At Dressel/Malikschmitt, this is always a free service. The first contact from the client can come any number of ways – phone call to our offices, direct email, or a website inquiry. No matter what means we are contacted by, we prioritize responding the same day, if possible, and certainly within 24 hours. The free initial consultation can take place however the client prefers – a personal phone call, an online teleconference, or an in-person consultation at our Somerville, New Jersey office.
This Outside General Counsel consultation is a very important part of our services. The process usually lasts anywhere from a half-hour to an hour, during which we get to know and to understand our client’s business. It allows us to assess the business we will hopefully be working with, allows the business owner to assess the approach and working methods of our attorneys, and allows both parties to determine how we can work together to best serve the needs of the business.
It is vital that the client be honest with us during this process to discuss any legal liabilities they may be aware of, and we will be realistic about the ways in which we can help. Depending upon how established the business is, our firm may request supplementary documentation, which we will review at no cost to the client. Usually, we will at least need to review the organizational documents for the entity, documentation related to any outstanding legal issues, and any outstanding contracts of importance. Ideally, the client would bring these with or have these available during the initial consultation.
Business Legal Audit
Once the client has decided we are the right fit for their business, the next step will likely consist of our attorneys conducting a legal audit. This will be a review of key documents and the company’s general business. From this, we will write up a short report setting forth the legal issues we believe the company may confront and identifying ways in which our firm can assist. Our local experience gives New Jersey businesses that work with us a specific advantage as we draw on our familiarity with state and regional laws and regulations to provide a comprehensive assessment in our audits.
Depending on the issues we identify and business needs, the relationship then transitions into on-call, project based, or consistent counsel.
On-Call Outside General Counsel
Sometimes business owners only want to discuss certain transactions and will call us on a project basis. Among the key benefits of outside general counsel is our flexible pricing options. A start-up company may only need a few basic corporate documents and may not have a lot of capital to draw upon. In this case, an hourly arrangement makes sense.
Also, we have the capacity to work with clients on a project-specific pricing structure. Established businesses have short-term needs and can work with us to address those efficiently and affordably. Examples of these include an individual transaction, urgent litigation, or internal investigation. Even in these instances, we value our clients and the well-being of their businesses so we will periodically touch base after the end of the project to make sure no further issues have arisen.
Retaining Outside General Counsel
Business owners often choose to work with us on an ongoing basis and we love to continue to grow with those clients. Once we feel we have an understanding of what the client needs in the immediate-term, the short-term, and the long-term, we then work with the client to develop a retainer strategy that makes sense. It is sometimes necessary we become a regular presence at board and executive meetings, sometimes we are in litigation, we may be supplemental and working under direction from established in-house counsel, and some situations require quick action upfront like getting into court or defending a lawsuit. Our retainer strategy will be based around those needs.
Prioritizing the Business
It is important to be proactive, not reactive, to address and resolve legal issues early on, before they become dangerous or costly. The outside general counsel lawyers at Dressel/Malikschmitt are committed to the success and longevity of your business. No matter the length of the working relationship, our client is the business. Outside general counsel will always act accordingly with the business’s interests in mind.