Should You Keep a Corporate Lawyer On Retainer?
If you run a business, you may need to hire a lawyer whenever a discrete legal issue arises or you may be more inclined to keep a lawyer on retainer for quick help at any time. Whether to keep a lawyer on a retainer is a business decision, and it will depend on the needs of your organization. Below are a few things to consider.
Having a Lawyer Who Knows Your Business’ Background
While paying a lawyer on retainer can seem like expense you can do without, there are often savings to be had by virtue of having a lawyer who knows and understands your business.
For a lawyer to be comfortable and confident giving legal advice to your company, he or she must understand all the relevant facts, and that will often include understanding what your company does, its structure, its finances, and the nature of its products and services. If a new lawyer is hired each time a legal need arises, the lawyer will need to spend time — billable time — familiarizing him or herself with the company. As such, a lawyer who is intimately familiar with your business will likely be able to perform work somewhat more quickly, resulting in less money spent.
Being Able to Act Quickly In Emergency Situations
If your business is being threatened with litigation, or needs to take immediate legal action against another company or former employee, it is useful to have a lawyer on retainer. If your lawyer is also a litigator, he or she will be more prepared than a lawyer unfamiliar with your company to proceed with the required steps to address the issue. Again, his or her background knowledge of your business will save time and expense.
If your corporate lawyer does not handle litigation, or the litigation is complex, he or she may be able to recommend a good litigation lawyer for the specific job. With your permission, your corporate lawyer may work with the litigation lawyer to impart information that will expedite the process, and save your company the hassle of re-collecting all relevant information and documents.
Further, if your company has been sued and the matter is time sensitive, you will have a lawyer to deal with any immediate communication necessary to protect your company’s rights and deal with time-sensitive steps — even if a litigation specialist is ultimately retained.
Paying Regular Monthly Fees
A monthly base fee usually accompanies keeping a lawyer on retainer for basic advice. In many arrangements, the basic monthly fee is charged regardless of whether the lawyer is used in a given month. The expectation is that the lawyer is being retained because the business will frequently need readily accessible basic advice via email or phone. In other cases, the monthly fee may be rolled over and put toward future legal expenses that fall beyond the scope of the basic retainer agreement (for example, large matters that go beyond basic calls and emails). In either case, it is a monthly expense that must be considered.
An advantage of paying a basic monthly fee is that there will be no time wasted to draft a new retainer agreement each time a simple question arises. Further, assuming the retainer includes the costs of basic calls and emails, you will not need to worry about being charged every time you make a call.
If your business has frequent legal questions, or needs frequent legal advice or representation, keeping a lawyer on retainer may be wise as it will save you the time and headache of negotiating and reviewing a new agreement each time a need arises. However, if your company’s need for legal advice is rare, an ongoing retainer may not work well for you unless the lawyer discounts the rate after a few trial months, in which case it might still be might be a viable option.
Prevention of Litigation
If you have a lawyer you can call for basic questions on an ad hoc basis, you are much more likely to seek advice on those issues. Even issues as simple as a line in a non-compete clause within an employment contract can result in serious implications for your business in the future.
When businesses do not keep a lawyer on retainer, they may try to resolve smaller legal questions or issues themselves in an effort to save money. Unfortunately, even small errors can end up resulting in costly litigation or the execution of agreements that do not best serve and protect your business.
Building a Long-Term Relationship
There is safety for you company in being able to rely on a lawyer with whom you have grown a rapport, with whom you have built a relationship of trust over time, and who has proven helpful to you and your business in the past.
Speak to Spratlin Law Office, Corporate Lawyers in Sherwood Park
Our law firm has been in business practicing corporate and commercial law for more than 40 years and we have various retainer options to fit your company’s needs. Contact our corporate lawyers in Sherwood Park today about an arrangement that could work for your business at 780-464-5404.