Many businesses across Australia now offer legal counsel services. If you are looking to hire a legal counsel to help your legal department or your business, then there are three qualities you should look out for.
In this article, we’ll go into detail about what those qualities are and how you can get the most out of your legal counsel in a way that makes business sense.
Author: Farrah Motley, Director of Prosper Law.
Legal counsel services should be focused on the outcomes of the business
Unlike engaging a private law firm to provide targeted legal advice, a legal counsel provides oversight over the whole or a part of legal function across the entire business. It is therefore important that these services are provided with business outcomes in mind, rather than looking at only the discrete legal issue, they are presented with.
For example, if a particular solution put forward by the business does not work from a legal perspective, the legal counsel should suggest alternatives with the desired business outcome in mind.
When legal counsel services are provided in this way, this means that there is a partnership between the lawyer and the business. Developing a problem-solving mindset and approach leads to outcomes that advance the best interests of the business.
Legal counsel services should be provided by someone that understands the difference between commercial legal advice and conservative law firm advice
When businesses engage a law firm to provide legal advice, the law firm may provide that advice in a way that protects them from any claims for negligence. This is standard practice and it is a fair way for independent lawyers to approach legal advice.
Legal counsel services, on the other hand, need to be commercial and less black-and-white. At the same time, accurate and appropriate legal advice and qualifications need to be given to the business so that the quality of the legal advice being provided is high.
The best in-house lawyers know where the line is drawn between providing accurate, good quality legal advice, and commercial legal advice that enables the business to make decisions.
It may also be beneficial for legal counsel to provide the answer that the business is looking for upfront (for example, in an email), with the legal detail and explanations on hand in case the business wants to understand the basis for the answer.
Plain English legal advice is the cornerstone of good legal counsel services
When lawyers use Latin phrases and complex legal terminology in their legal correspondence, it has the effect of isolating the reader. Often, the reason that legal advice is sought in the first place is that legislation, case law and legal commentary can be difficult to make sense of. It is the lawyer’s job to translate this into simple terms and apply it to the question that is being asked.
When providing legal counsel services, in-house legal counsels understand that it is important to provide legal advice in plain English and in a way that readers understand what is being communicated.
The best lawyers are able to reduce complex legal concepts into a basic explanation. Legal counsel services that do this ensure that there is no room for the business to misinterpret the advice and make the wrong business decisions as a result.
Providing plain English legal advice doesn’t necessarily mean explaining something with words, but can include diagrams, flowcharts, tables and other ways of displaying information in a way that is simple and quick to read.
How can Prosper Law help?
Prosper Law’s legal services are provided by Farrah Motley, an Australian lawyer that provides legal counsel services. Farrah has experience working within the legal teams of Australian and international companies and in various industries.
Farrah Motley | Director
PROSPER LAW – A Commercial Law Firm for Businesses
M: 1300 003 077
A: Suite No. 99, Level 18, 324 Queen Street, Brisbane, Queensland Australia 4000