Are you thinking about hiring legal counsel for your business? Maybe you're growing faster than anticipated, or perhaps you are confused about legal matters impacting your business. Whatever the reason, hiring an in-house lawyer makes sense, but where should you start?
What is a Legal Counsel?
An in-house legal counsel provides advice on legal matters concerning the business. The guidance from a legal counsel helps the firms to decide whether or not to take action on a particular issue that may have legal implications.
Main duties of a Legal Counsel
Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating various commercial contracts
The primary duties of a legal counsel are drafting, reviewing, and negotiating contracts and agreements. A legal counsel typically assists the company in all significant business transactions, for example, licensing agreements or finance agreements. They negotiate with third parties the terms of these contracts to get the optimum agreement for the company.
Legal counsel is in charge of ensuring compliance with regulations. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Approved Codes of Practice for Health and Safety and GDPR are areas where the government has extensive rules and regulations. Infringement of the latter can cost businesses up to the higher maximum amount, £17.5 million or 4% of the total annual worldwide turnover. GDPR, for example, concerns all companies. Therefore it is vital that legislation is followed as minor errors could lead to catastrophic results for the business.
The lawyer provides advice on all aspects of law relevant to the company, including contracts, employment issues, intellectual property and taxation. They also monitor new laws that might affect business operations. For example, if there's a new law related to working hours or maternity leave, they can advise on how this may affect your organisation and what steps you need to take next.
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Skills and qualifications
Legal counsel must possess commercial awareness skills because they deal with a wide variety of issues, including company accounts and finances and employment law and intellectual property rights. They need to draw on their knowledge of the law and apply it to a particular business situation to give valuable advice to their employer.
Legal counsels typically handle multiple matters at one time. Therefore they must prioritise their workload and work within deadlines. Legal counsel must also be thorough and accurate in their work. They are responsible for ensuring all contracts are legally sound.
Most companies will want their legal counsel to be qualified in the UK and have around 2 to 5 years of post-qualification experience. To become qualified, individuals would usually complete a qualifying law degree (LLB) and then take the Solicitor Qualifying Examination (SQE). Before September 2021, the route has been the graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and a Legal Practice Course (LPC).
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.