If you’ve read my Approach, then you know that my goal is to become a part of your team just as surely as if my office were down the hall from yours. It is definitely better for businesses to have ongoing relationships with their lawyers — this structure allows you to get in front of problems, to plan rather than react. Remember, chance favors the prepared mind
These specific service options describe how I work with clients. They provide deeper relationships, lower cost, and increased overall effectiveness for you as a client with ongoing needs for timely, business-focused advice every month on issues across the legal spectrum. You are the client I want to work with.
Interim General Counsel
This plan provides full-service management of all your legal needs. The goal for this relationship is that you know when a legal issue arises, you call me and I help you solve it. Period. No ticking clock, no worries about high bills or hourly rates: instead, a relationship better than having a full-time lawyer because you get the amount of service you want and need while not being tied to a limited skill set. I cannot provide this service to more than a handful of clients for obvious reasons. For full-service advice, the fee is $5000/month.
How to decide: if you want someone to call any time, any place, with any problem, then you want a dedicated priority relationship. (If your needs are equivalent to 12-15 hours of legal work each month, then you will save money just on the sticker price alone.) The “Interim” designation signals to everyone — you, me, insiders, outsiders — that I’m not merely a hired gun but a member of your team, working alongside the leaders of the business to accomplish its goals.
Outside General Counsel
This plan provides for a bridge between the always-available Interim General Counsel plan and traditional hourly legal fees. The goal for this relationship is a measured and defined response to your ongoing legal needs while allowing for volatility in your needs without damaging your budget. By tying the plan to your actual business activity, I help you make more reliable budgets and smooth your overall legal expenses. At the same time, our relationship grows over time and you gain the benefit of my deeper perspective on your business.
How it works: We work together to estimate the amount of work you require on an ongoing basis. Usually this understanding comes after we’ve worked together for a while and we’ve resolved the standalone issues that probably caused you to contact me in the first place. At the end of the day, we both need to understand that the arrangement has to make sense for both of us. We both have to be able to recognize when it’s too unbalanced over time, since the goal is to smooth your legal expenses as the same time as providing you ready access to a lawyer who knows your business. For this plan, fees range from $1500 – $3000/month.
Because the purpose of these plans is to help smooth your legal costs at a predictable level, the work included is tied to the regular problems you face in the ordinary course of business. Typical included work is:
- Contracts for your primary business, including developing appropriate forms and processes to create efficiencies over time
- negotiation of contract disputes
- initial work on internal due diligence and term sheets for strategic transactions
- monthly management or board meeting attendance
- annual shareholder meeting attendance
- shareholder and board meetings, minutes, resolutions, and consents
- supervision of specialty counsel (patent, tax, litigation) in the board context (for the Outside General Counsel plan)
- supervision of outside counsel (for the Interim General Counsel plan)
What’s not included?
There are a variety of specific tasks not included, and there are two reasons: either the work is specialized and outside the ordinary course of business (such as a company-side venture financing) OR the amount of work is effectively in someone else’s control (such as litigation). In both of these cases, neither of us can accurately estimate in advance the amount of actual work required. With corporate transactions, I can work with you to develop a fixed fee for each phase of a transaction. With litigation, every case is, unfortunately, on a case-by-case basis, but I can still guide you on the board and management team oversight of pending litigation as part of your retainer plan. The rest we’ll just have to work out when it becomes necessary.
For clients with fewer recurring legal needs, the Outside Compliance Counsel plan is more appropriate and tailored to a smooth-running operation with either good internal business processes or longer (or fewer) commercial contracting cycles.
Outside Compliance Counsel
The Outside Counsel plan includes the minimum corporate governance and formalities while preserving access as a preferred client to fixed-fee drafting, revisions, and negotiation of commercial contracts as well as related services. Our best practice recommendation for governance is a standing monthly board meeting, with a notice and minutes prepared; an annual shareholder meeting with agenda and minutes; an annual minimal legal audit to catch issues not raised in the other meetings. This plan also includes two hours of services each month for issues that come up from time to time. The goal for this relationship is that you know when a legal issue arises, you just call me and I help you figure out how to address it. With monthly board meetings, the fee is $1000/month; with quarterly board meetings, the fee is $2000/quarter.
Finally, the Private Counsel plan is an efficient and flexible service for entrepreneurs, business owners, directors, and investors to receive legal advice specific to their interests from an experienced and trusted lawyer. Individuals using the Private Counsel Program often have a range of business and personal assets and activities, and they prefer the comfort of having an experienced attorney on hand to quickly respond to issues across their entire portfolio. I can advise on managing investments in private companies and advising on general business legal matters from an individual perspective, such as the effect of a proposed financing on a CEO or shareholder’s standing in the company. These on-call services are provided at a fixed quarterly rate for a minimum number of hours of advice and services each quarter. Fees for this plan range from $600 – $1500/month. Any additional time will be billed at a special Private Counsel discounted rate of $200/hour.
Of course, I also provide some basic services that appeal to clients who need some standardized help before they turn to me with their most complex problems.
Are you starting a business?
Are you forming a nonprofit or a foundation?
Finally, for those matters that don’t fit into one of these models, I provide legal services at a rate of $400/hour with a 5-hour minimum retainer. Why do I do this? Because if your problem isn’t big enough to require that much work, you should be thinking hard about whether it needs to be solved at all, or in this way (and that’s a question I’ll gladly help you answer in a no-obligation 15-minute call). If we’re working together, my advice is only valuable to you if you pay attention to it and integrate it into your decision-making process. When you commit to getting my advice, you’ll be more engaged in asking the right question and getting the correct answer. It’s better for both of us this way. You’ll constantly judge me on the value of the advice I give you: that’s a challenge I’m ready to accept every day. (I really, really don’t even want opportunities to make you pay me for less-valuable advice. That’s why I write.) Here’s another way to think of it: if you’ve decided your problem isn’t worth that kind of opportunity cost, then what is it really costing you to solve it by yourself? Probably even more. I want to do everything I can to encourage that kind of decision-making and priority focus in your business, whether it’s your time or my time.