Businesses often engage attorneys only after problems and emergencies arise, when it’s already too late to head off issues and liabilities. That is a “why change the oil when you can buy a new engine?” approach to business.
The General Counsel Initiative is about law, business, and common sense – and common sense dictates that counsel should concentrate on using the law to help you spend less time fixing your business and more time running your business with a strategic, profit-driven focus. That is what we do, and that is how we add value.
We structure General Counsel Initiative services and fees with this in mind. Every engagement is different, but we generally include the following components, tailored toward the circumstances.
The GCI Business Assessment
Our first step in any engagement is the GCI Business Assessment — a deep dive into your business through a combination of proprietary GCI Assessment Surveys, follow-up interviews, and document reviews. The Assessment is a detailed and important process that defines key facts, priorities, and strategies. Based on that Assessment, we prepare a written report of our findings and recommended short-term and long-term next steps. We handle these assessments on a predetermined, flat-fee basis.
For an example of our proprietary GCI Assessment Surveys, click here. You will have the opportunity to complete a sample Employment Law Compliance Survey. Submit it, and we will respond with some key findings and recommendations.
The Routine Communications and Meetings Retainer
We add the most value if we are routinely involved in business planning and issue management in real time — as, not after, potential employee problems are unfolding, customer disputes arise, contracts are being discussed, opportunities emerge, etc.
However, we know that many businesses dislike the idea of receiving a separate bill for each brief, routine consultation with counsel. For those clients, we offer the option of paying a quarterly Routine Communications and Meetings Retainer. The retainer serves as a kind of time bank against which the business can draw without having to address separate billing statements for the phone calls, emails, and conferences that characterize a productive general counsel relationship.
We do keep track of our time, and if our time exceeds the quarterly retainer, we review the circumstances with you, we allocate the time as appropriate (for example, to projects we have agreed to handle on a flat-fee basis), we discuss a fair arrangement to compensate us for our services, we reset the retainer as necessary, and we move on to the next quarter.
Fixed-Fee and Not-to-Exceed Fee Arrangements
We provide an array of project-based services: contract drafting, cybersecurity troubleshooting and remedies, business planning, deal structuring, real estate leasing and acquisitions, risk management, tax minimization, compliance procedures, and so on. We understand the need for businesses to budget for these kinds of services, and we therefore focus on fixed-fee and not-to-exceed fee arrangements wherever feasible — arrangements that are based more on value than time. We have invested in the intellectual resources and strategic alliances that allow us to complete projects on this basis, without compromise.
Full disclosure: sometimes, we cannot use these approaches. For example, in the course of an intense negotiation or a contested litigation, we cannot control or predict the delays and complications an adversary’s attorney may foment, and in other contexts we often need to include an adjustment contingency in the arrangement to account for circumstances and developments that could not be reasonably foreseen.
Status and Planning Conferences
On a quarterly or semi-annual basis (according to your preference and relevant circumstances) we schedule Status and Planning Conferences. These are extremely important meetings: over the course of one to two hours, we review what’s been done, we reassess needs and priorities, we make sure we are fully informed respecting your business, and we make specific recommendations for future actions. We do not charge for these meetings — we discuss appropriate fees only when you have decided on next steps and are prepared to move forward.