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How a Fractional GC Can Support Your Company's Growth

Updated: Apr 10


As your business grows, you need legal expertise to navigate the complex legal landscape. And we all know that navigating the intricate legal landscape is a pivotal aspect of managing a growing business. Yet, the financial investment in a full-time in-house counsel can seem daunting, especially during the initial growth phases of your business. It's a catch-22 for any business: how do I keep my overhead low while trying to legally scale my business?


Ask yourself this: have you ever found yourself in need of expert legal advice but hesitant about the cost implications? Of course you have!


Enter the solution: a fractional General Counsel (GC).


This post is dedicated to unveiling how a fractional GC can be a game-changer for your business expansion. Offering on-demand legal expertise, fractional GCs provide access to premier legal advice without the hefty expense. We'll delve into the myriad ways a fractional GC can support your company's upward trajectory, offering cost-effective strategies for everything from contract negotiations to regulatory compliance and HR policy development.


Discover the opportune moment to bring a fractional GC into your team, how to pinpoint the ideal provider tailored to your business needs, and glean insights from how other leading enterprises have successfully harnessed the power of fractional GCs for sustainable growth. Equip your business with the right legal partner and move forward with your expansion plans confidently and strategically.


What Is a Fractional General Counsel?


A fractional general counsel provides strategic legal expertise on a part-time, outsourced basis. Rather than hiring an in-house legal team, companies leverage experienced attorneys for a set number of hours each month. This model offers affordable access to high-caliber legal insights, enabling SMEs and startups to optimize costs while strengthening their legal framework.


As your company navigates the challenges of growth, a fractional GC can help tackle issues such as:


Contract Review and Negotiation

A fractional GC can review and negotiate contracts with clients, vendors, suppliers and other partners. This ensures your terms properly protect your company's interests and minimize legal risks. As your contract volume increases with growth, a fractional GC can handle peaks in demand.


Intellectual Property Management

From filing trademarks and patents to protecting copyrights and trade secrets, a fractional GC provides IP strategy and guidance. They can advise on IP issues that arise as you expand product lines, enter new markets and manage a larger portfolio of IP assets.


Regulatory Compliance

A fractional GC keeps abreast of relevant regulations in your industry to advise on compliance issues. With growth comes greater complexity navigating regulations, and a fractional GC can help interpret rules and implement compliant policies.


In summary, a fractional GC provides an agile, scalable solution to your expanding legal needs. By engaging the right provider, you gain an experienced legal strategist focused on enabling your company's success.


Tailored Expertise

Lopes Law offers fractional general counsel services across three tiers - Basic, Professional, and Executive. The Basic Plan provides essential support for emerging companies, focusing on contract reviews and compliance. The Professional Plan expands services for growth-stage businesses, encompassing IP management, employment law, and risk mitigation. For complex legal needs, the Executive Plan delivers comprehensive strategy across disputes, IP protection, and audits. Each tier scales expertise and hours based on your company's evolving requirements.


Strategic Guidance

A fractional GC provides strategic oversight and risk management, ensuring your legal foundation aligns with business objectives. Services span contract law, IP, compliance, and dispute resolution, delivered through a combination of fixed monthly hours and additional hours as needed. Lopes Law attorneys act as an extension of your team, gaining in-depth knowledge of your operations to offer tailored guidance and help avoid legal pitfalls. By optimizing legal costs from the outset, fractional GCs enable SMEs and startups to invest more resources in growth.


Affordable Legal Support

For SMEs and startups, hiring full-time legal staff often proves cost-prohibitive, especially when expertise across multiple areas is required. Lopes Law's fractional model provides affordable access to experienced attorneys for a fraction of the cost of an in-house team. Companies pay only for the hours they need each month, with additional hours available on demand. This scalable solution ensures you gain high-level legal insights without excessive overhead or long-term commitments.


Key Benefits of Hiring a Fractional GC


Hiring a fractional general counsel (GC) offers strategic benefits for scaling businesses.


Cost-Effective Expertise

A fractional GC provides targeted legal support without the expense of hiring full-time in-house counsel. By leveraging a fractional model, you gain expertise across essential areas like contracts, intellectual property, and compliance at a fraction of the cost.


Strategic Guidance

An experienced fractional GC offers strategic guidance to help you navigate risks and optimize growth. With knowledge of your business objectives and legal needs, a fractional GC can provide tailored advice and help establish processes to support your company's success in a compliant, sustainable way.


Scalable Support

As your business grows, so does your need for legal expertise. A fractional GC provides scalable support through service tiers that expand in scope and sophistication. You can start with foundational services, like contract reviews, before progressing to more comprehensive support across employment law, litigation management, and IP protection as needed. This flexible model ensures your legal framework keeps pace with your business's evolving complexity.


Peace of Mind

Hiring a fractional GC gives leadership teams confidence in the legal soundness of business decisions and peace of mind that risks are properly managed. With a fractional GC, you gain an experienced legal partner focused on your success, allowing you to focus on growth while trusting your legal foundations are secured.


A fractional general counsel is designed to provide strategic legal support for businesses seeking to optimize growth in a sustainable, compliant way. By leveraging tiered services from a fractional GC, companies can establish a robust legal framework that scales with their business, gaining expertise and risk management at a fraction of the cost.


How Fractional GCs Compare to in-House Teams


Cost-Effectiveness

Hiring a fractional GC is often more cost-effective than building an in-house legal team. Fractional GCs charge only for the hours worked, with no overhead costs for benefits, office space or administrative support. This pay-as-you-go model means you only pay for legal services when you need them. In contrast, in-house teams require ongoing funding to maintain even when workload is light.


Expertise

Fractional GCs have a breadth of experience from working with multiple clients in various industries. They can apply lessons learned across clients to your matters. In-house teams, on the other hand, only have experience within your company and industry. Fractional GCs also stay up-to-date with changes in the law through ongoing education and exposure to diverse legal issues.


Flexibility

Fractional GCs provide flexibility to scale legal support up or down as needed to match your company’s needs. You can increase or decrease hours and add or change GCs to match your workload, priorities, and budget. In-house teams, however, provide less flexibility as you have made full-time hires. Reducing in-house legal staff may be difficult and met with resistance.


In summary, fractional GCs offer significant advantages over in-house teams for growing companies. Their cost-effectiveness, expertise, and flexibility allow you to receive high-quality legal guidance tailored to your needs and budget. As your company expands, a fractional GC model provides an efficient way to scale your legal function without the risks and costs of building an in-house team.


Top Areas Where a Fractional GC Provides Value


Contract Drafting and Negotiation

A fractional GC can review and draft essential contracts for your business, including vendor agreements, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), terms of service, and employment contracts. They will negotiate contract terms to optimize value and manage risks. With a fractional GC, you gain a strategic partner to secure favorable contracts that protect your interests as you scale.


Intellectual Property Protection

For companies with proprietary technology or trade secrets, a fractional GC helps establish a robust IP framework. They can file patent or trademark applications, advise on trade secret protection strategies, and send cease-and-desist letters to infringers. With the guidance of a fractional GC, you can implement an IP strategy tailored to your needs, safeguarding your inventions and brand as you grow.


Regulatory Compliance

Navigating legal compliance as you expand into new markets or jurisdictions can be complex. A fractional GC monitors regulations in your industry and locations of operation, advising on necessary filings, permits, and policies to meet your compliance obligations. They provide guidance on data privacy laws, workplace regulations, and key legislation impacting your business. Access to a fractional GC means compliance expertise when you need it, helping to avoid penalties and enforcement actions as your company scales.


Dispute Resolution

If conflicts or claims arise, a fractional GC can negotiate resolutions or represent you in litigation. They send demand letters, engage in settlement talks, and work with external counsel to resolve disputes efficiently and cost-effectively. With the support of a fractional GC, you gain a strategic advisor and advocate to navigate contentious issues, allowing leadership to stay focused on growth.


In summary, a fractional GC provides on-demand access to legal expertise across critical areas of your business. By optimizing contracts, protecting IP, ensuring compliance, and resolving disputes, a fractional GC helps establish a robust legal foundation for your company's success and continued progress.


Why do startups need a fractional general counsel?


Cost-Effective Expertise

Startups require legal guidance to establish a strong foundation, but often lack resources for in-house counsel. A fractional general counsel offers strategic legal support at a fraction of the cost. By leveraging expertise across key areas like contracts, intellectual property, and compliance, startups gain critical insights to facilitate growth while optimizing legal spend.


Scalable Legal Strategy

As startups evolve, legal needs become increasingly complex. An effective fractional general counsel will align services with a company’s maturity, offering tiered plans that scale with growth. For emerging companies, a fractional general counsel can focus on fundamentals like contract reviews and entity formation. For enterprises, services may span dispute resolution, employment issues, and risk management. A scalable approach ensures legal strategy keeps pace with business objectives at every stage.


Proactive Risk Management

For startups, unforeseen legal risks can derail progress. An experienced fractional general counsel takes a proactive approach, regularly assessing legal frameworks to identify potential issues early on. With an outside perspective on key areas like intellectual property, data privacy, and regulatory compliance, fractional general counsels help startups anticipate challenges, advise on solutions, and implement policies to minimize risk. By tackling legal risks upfront, startups avoid disruptions to operations while safeguarding corporate interests.


In summary, a fractional general counsel offers startups a strategic, scalable, and risk-mitigating legal resource without the burden of building an entire in-house team. By leveraging outside expertise, startups establish a strong legal foundation upon which to build future success.


FAQs About Fractional General Counsel Services


What qualifications should I look for in a fractional GC?

The ideal fractional GC will have extensive experience practicing law and advising companies similar to yours. Look for attorneys with a proven track record of supporting SMEs and startups through periods of growth. Relevant industry experience and expertise in areas like intellectual property, data privacy, and compliance are also valuable.


How much will a fractional GC cost?

Fees for fractional GCs are often lower than hiring an in-house attorney. They typically charge by the hour or day and work remotely from their own office. Rates will depend on the attorney’s experience, expertise, and the complexity of your needs. On average, SMEs pay between $200 to $500 per hour for an experienced fractional GC. Some attorneys may charge flat monthly retainers for ongoing advisory services.


Can a fractional GC handle sensitive legal matters?

Yes, a reputable fractional GC will keep all client communications and documents strictly confidential in accordance with attorney-client privilege. They have the same ethical obligations as traditional legal counsel. If needed, fractional GCs can also oversee more complex litigation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate restructurings. For sensitive negotiations or contracts, you may want to consider an attorney with a physical presence in your area. But for most routine legal needs, a fractional GC is well-equipped to advise and represent your company.


How to budget for fractional general counsel services


When determining how to budget for fractional general counsel services, the main factors to consider are the scope of work and level of expertise required. For limited, routine legal needs, a junior attorney may suffice at a lower rate. However, for more complex matters requiring specialized experience, a senior attorney will be needed, typically at a higher rate.


Scope of Work

First, evaluate the scope of legal work needed and estimate the number of hours required. Common scopes of work for fractional GCs include commercial contracts review, employment issues, intellectual property, and general legal compliance. More complex scopes of work, such as litigation support or international expansion, will likely require significantly more hours. Obtain estimates from prospective fractional GCs on the hours required for your needs.


Level of Expertise

Next, consider the level of expertise necessary for the role. Junior attorneys typically have 3-5 years of experience at a lower rate, while mid-level attorneys have 6-10 years of experience at a moderate rate. Senior attorneys have 10+ years of experience in a specialized area of law at a higher rate. Choose a level of experience that matches the complexity of your legal needs.


Additional Costs

Finally, budget for potential additional costs like travel expenses if in-person meetings are required. However, fractional GCs are typically very efficient, leveraging phone, email and video conferencing to minimize costs. With the range of expertise and scopes of work available from fractional GCs, companies of any size can find cost-effective solutions for their legal needs. Carefully evaluating your requirements and options will help determine an appropriate budget for your business.


Conclusion


Hiring a fractional general counsel provides immense value for growing companies seeking legal expertise without the costs of a full-time resource. By leveraging a fractional GC, you gain on-demand access to high-caliber legal counsel adept at navigating complex issues from startup through growth stages. This model offers you the subject matter expertise and bandwidth to support time-sensitive deals, regulatory compliance, IP protection, and other critical legal needs as they arise. With the right fractional GC partner, you can supplement your team with seasoned legal leadership focused on enabling your company's continued success. Consider how a fractional general counsel could provide specialized support and strategic guidance to empower your company's growth trajectory.


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