Scope of Work
The scope of General Counsel work is in essence determined by the character and nature of our clients' business and corporate structure and operations. Our work as "in-house" counsel requires us to determine the following:
First, we must determine and establish a baseline of routine and ordinary legal issues and matters of our clients.
Second, we must determine and establish an above baseline of non-routine and extraordinary legal issues and matters of our clients.
This is an all important step in determining the scope of our representation as "in-house" counsel. At this point, we focus on meeting the expectations of our clients.
Our General Counsel Retainer Agreement will clearly set forth the baseline verses the above baseline work. The Agreement will also set forth all other provisions relating to an attorney-client relationship.
Upon request, we will also provide some level of executive and management consulting.
Among other things, the General Counsel Retainer Agreement will provide the scope, latitude and limitation of our authority within the business and corporate organizational structures of our clients. This is critical because we will become an "insider" and must work hand in hand with other executives and key staff of our client businesses and corporations.
Adjustments to the scope of work may be needed from time to time, particularly during the early stage of the relationship. The "in-house" counsel is an organic and evolving relationship that will grow.
Most of our clients are new to retention and utilization of this type of legal services. We are prepared to walk together through the process.
On Boarding Process
There is a two-way on-boarding process.
First, we have to come on board and into the business and corporate structure of our clients.
Second, our clients have to come on board and into the work flow of our law firm.
The "on-boarding process" is a fancy way of saying that our clients need to get to know us and vice versa.
We invest a significant amount of time during an on-boarding process for the simple reason - it is the only way to approach the relationship.
There is no magic to the on-boarding process but we are quite capable of leading and guiding our clients with it. And the best thing about the on-boarding process, which is very time consuming, does not cost our clients any additional fees except for few exceptional circumstances. The topic of fees will be discussed in the next column.
An important aspect of the on-boarding process is for us to gain the knowledge and insight into our clients' businesses and their staff as quickly as possible. For this reason, we often come to our clients' business premises, particularly during the early stage of the on-boarding process.
In order to enhance the initial and on-going communications needs, we generally require our clients to make use of readily available video conferencing technology. In fact, we use such technology throughout the day to stay in touch with our clients and their staff.
Clients' greatest fear has to do with setting and paying legal fees. Our goal is to make our fees affordable and fit the annual budgets of our clients. It is that simple.
An annual fee is set for all of the baseline work and is paid on an agreed upon intervals, usually monthly. With regard to any above the baseline work, we provide a substantial discount of our regular hourly rates, when such work is within our experience and expertise.
The level of our fees is reviewed and assessed together from time to time in order to establish an appropriate and fair amount to both parties. It has generally been an informal process, rather than a formal process. And, how the fees are set and agreed upon will determine the length and depth of the relationship with our clients.
We find that small and medium size businesses and corporations are not accustomed to establishing a budget expense category for "in-house" counsel. Consequently, the financial consideration is the biggest hurdle in retaining "in-house" counsel like us. We will work with clients, not just to get them to become our "in-house" counsel clients but so that they can comfortably enjoy our "in-house" counsel service.
Please contact attorney Sam Hwang to talk in-depth about our "in-house" counsel service. Mr. Hwang will be happy to take you through the process in greater detail.