What is a Fractional General Counsel?

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What is a Fractional General Counsel? 

Every company has legal issues that need to be solved, especially those looking to grow. A Fractional General Counsel offers companies, often startups or small businesses, the opportunity to work with very experienced former in-house lawyers without incurring the cost of a full-time GC. 

This comes as part of a shift to a more flexible working world. Fractional services are much like hiring a part-time employee, as opposed to outside counsel. Professionals are able to provide advice based on a retainer or contract agreement. This also means that a Fractional General Counsel may work for more than one company at a time. 

Ideally, a Fractional GC provides high-quality legal services and at the same time works alongside companies to learn about their business. Often this involves replicating their experience working with various companies at the C-suite level. It’s an opportunity for those with in-house legal experience to leverage their expertise in an outside counsel role.

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Fractional General Counsel vs General Counsel

The main difference between a Fractional GC and a GC is the type of employment. A General Counsel is an employee at the company while a Fractional General Counsel is freelance (treated as an independent contractor). 

This means that fractional counsel can work on a much more ‘on-demand’ basis, which may work better for some companies. Some companies opt for a Fractional Counsel because it gives them greater flexibility over employment terms, while maintaining a strong relationship between law and the C-suite. 

Read what Juro’s CEO, Richard Mabley has to say about how legal can enable the C-suite. 

What does a fractional General Counsel do?

Fractional General Counsel tend to operate on a set fee. This means that once this set fee is met, they are accessible for any legal support and advice you may need. The fee itself will depend on the nature and frequency of your legal needs. This could be at an hourly rate or a specific service charge depending on the preferences of the company and GC. 

Other than this, a Fractional GC provides a very similar service to an in-house General Counsel. Working as a General Counsel in smaller companies offers its own set of challenges, an experienced GC will be able to navigate these. 

A Fractional GC will focus on both the commercial and legal challenges a company may face. For more information on what the role and responsibilities of a general counsel looks like check this page out.

When would a company need a fractional General Counsel?

It's not so much a case of when a company needs a Fractional General Counsel, but if this is the right type of General Counsel for them. A Fractional GC is a legal option aimed at smaller companies or startups who need legal support but lack the financial backing for a full time GC. 

That said, larger companies may also find themselves needing expert advice on a particular urgent project better suited to a Fractional GC. 

The Fractional General Counsel arrangement can be beneficial for all involved. It offers firm-based fees, predictable legal costs and increased business knowledge for the consumer and greater flexibility and work/life balance.

How to find a Fractional General Counsel

As this is a relatively new trend in legal services, it can be hard to know where to start. It’s important to take your time to see what the best investment is for your business. But how do you find the best Fractional General Counsel? 

  • Get referrals. Ask your legal contacts if they know anybody or have worked with anybody suited to this role. You could also use dedicated websites like LinkedIn or dedicated firms who represent Fractional GCs.
  • Look for experience. Often, the best Fractional GC’s are those who have worked in the industry for years and are starting to wind down their workload. 
  • Review their reputation. Websites such as Chambers and The Legal 500 are great resources. They aim to help lawyers and legal teams find the right advisors through our law firm rankings and editorial. 
  • Find somebody with relevant expertise. Loom for somebody who worked as a General Counsel in a space relevant to your own. This means they’ll be able to offer valuable legal and business insight. 
  • Compare fees. Shop around for a price that works best for your company’s needs. 

What is the average cost of Fractional General Counsel?

The cost entirely depends on a variety of factors: 

  • The experience level of Fractional General Counsel
  • Hours spent on your case 
  • The complexity of the legal issue

According to Contracts Counsel, the average Fractional general Counsel service charges between $150-$350, but could be higher depending on the GC’s experience level. More experienced Fractional General Counsel will charge more than those just starting out, as they have more C-Suite experience. 

Discover more about the salary benchmarks for in-house legal with Juro. 

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