Is it time to hire an in-house lawyer? If this is a question you’ve been asking yourself, you’re not alone. As business needs become more complex, many tech startups find themselves facing mounting legal issues and debating whether it’s time to hire an in-house lawyer and ditch the sky-high fees charged by external counsel.

To help you figure out the next best move for your company, let’s take a look at what in-house counsel could do for you along with the pros and cons that come with it.

After all, there may be a more convenient and affordable solution to your legal needs…

What to expect from your first in-house lawyer

Unlike an external law firm, an in-house lawyer will be an employee of your company. That means this lawyer will be exclusively focused on your company’s needs and activities and will have an active interest in the daily legal tasks and challenges that the company faces. 

An in-house lawyer’s tasks can vary depending on the company’s specific needs and goals. In general, their responsibilities will be either transactional or strategic:

  • Transactional work refers to the routine legal tasks that your company deals with on a daily basis. High volume and repetitive in nature, these tasks could include setting up contract templates such as for sales contracts, outlining dispute processes, and negotiating with customers and supply chain partners.
  • Strategic work, on the other hand, consists of unique and often long-term tasks that are required to achieve your company’s goals. For example, if you’re considering international expansion, you may need legal assistance to advise you on the labor and tax laws that apply when entering a new foreign market. Raising capital and developing processes for crisis management are some other examples.

While in-house lawyers may be directly involved in both strategic and transactional activities, they may also be hired to perform more of a management role, such as overseeing the work being performed by outside counsel and making sure they’re protecting your company’s best interests. 

As you can see, the role of in-house counsel can vary significantly. This means that in order to select an in-house lawyer who is best-suited to tackling your company’s legal challenges, you’ll need to take the time to truly understand your startup’s legal needs. But before you begin the hiring process, ask yourself: is it a good time to hire your first in-house lawyer? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros and cons to having an in-house lawyer for your startup

Pro: They have the full picture of what’s happening within your company. 

Because they’re 100 percent dedicated to your company, in-house lawyers are often better positioned than outside counsel to identify emerging legal issues and resolve them in a timely way.

Pro: They can come up with good solutions. 

An in-house lawyer’s more intimate knowledge makes it possible for them to devise the legal processes and solutions that make the most sense for your company and its business model. Outside counsel, on the other hand, may need to go through some trial and error before finding the best possible solution, not to mention that they may have some standard, cookie-cutter solutions that they propose to all clients, rather than coming up with customized options. 

Pro: They could save you money. 

If your company faces a high volume of continuous legal tasks, then hiring an in-house lawyer on a fixed salary to take care of this workload could turn out to be far more cost effective than paying an external firm’s high hourly fees. 

Con: You will probably have more work than one lawyer can handle. 

Depending on the size of your company and your needs, there may be times when you have more legal work than one in-house lawyer can handle. As a result, you may end up needing to occasionally hire outside counsel for additional support, which will cost you extra.

Con: You will need a lawyer with different expertise. 

While your in-house counsel may be highly specialized in certain legal disciplines, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll be experts in every field of law. There may be times when your needs don’t match up with their expertise, and you’ll need to turn to outside lawyers, even if just to verify the accuracy of your in-house lawyer’s work.

Con: There’s a cheaper, better, and faster solution for your startup needs.  

Some legal activities are so basic and routine that hiring an in-house lawyer to take care of them could be a waste of resources. These days, software can solve many of the routine legal issues previously handed over to lawyers, and it’s not only more affordable but also faster.

If contract review is the main reason your company’s considering in-house counsel, there’s one affordable and effective solution that you should consider before beginning the hiring process.

Superlegal is an AI-powered platform that reviews contracts while providing you with data-driven insights to help you negotiate the best deals. Reviewed and fine-tuned by legal experts, Superlegal is capable of processing contracts in as little as 24 hours while saving you up to 90% on legal costs!

Making a final decision

Considering the many functions that an in-house lawyer could perform, your company’s specific legal needs will dictate whether hiring in-house counsel is your best move. Then again, if routine contract reviews are your biggest concern, then a contract review software such as Superlegal may be just what you need. 

Sign up for Superlegal and get your first contract reviewed for free!