Strategic Flexibility: 3 Ways Interim Counsel Drives Impact
November 14, 2023 | Articles
The role of a GC is fraught with challenges; the balance between managing daily operations and addressing unexpected legal challenges is delicate. The pressure to balance workload, budget, and the well-being of the legal team can often feel like balancing on a tightrope.
Asking an already stretched-thin staff to take on more, hiring additional full-time employees, or outsourcing to pricey law firms are only sometimes the best or feasible options. This is where the strategic utilization of interim counsel comes into play, offering a versatile and cost-effective solution for legal departments navigating the ebb and flow of workload demands.
Here are three real-life examples of how obtaining interim in-house counsel provided strategic relief to overstretched legal teams.
Scenario 1: Finding Support During a Hiring Freeze at Hurricane Games
As Hurricane Games braced for the launch of their next big video game console, an unexpected hiring freeze threatened to upend their legal department’s preparations. The freeze, a response to lower-than-expected sales from their last game, meant no new hires could bolster the already overextended legal team as they approached the critical console release.
The GC at Hurricane Games faced a dire situation: overloading his current staff with the launch’s legal demands could push them to the brink of burnout—or worse, resignation. But in a stroke of strategic insight, he realized the solution lay in the unallocated vendor budget, unaffected by the hiring freeze.
This discovery led to hiring an interim attorney, a move that brought specialized expertise without the long-term commitment of a full-time hire. The interim counsel, already equipped with benefits and requiring no extensive onboarding, could dive straight into the fray, adeptly handling complex intellectual property issues crucial to the console’s debut.
By opting for this flexible legal support over costlier law firm services, the GC managed to keep the quality of work high and costs low. The interim attorney’s contribution was pivotal, ensuring that the legal department successfully navigated the launch period without overtaxing its permanent staff, all within the constraints of the hiring freeze. This strategy not only safeguarded the team’s morale but also highlighted the GC’s adeptness at navigating through fiscal and operational challenges with inventive resourcing.
Scenario 2: Turning Chaos Into Compliance at Fortana
Fortana, an athletic wear company on the brink of maturity, faced a privacy law compliance nightmare. The introduction of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) turned their oversight into an urgent issue when a customer requested details on the personal information collected on them, as permitted by the law.
The GC realized that her team lacked the specific expertise required to handle this complex privacy issue.
Faced with the option of partnering with an external law firm was financially daunting, given their $450/hour charge for privacy matters. The GC took into consideration the possibility of hiring interim legal counsel.
A friend recommended an interim counsel provider, and soon Jackie, a veteran privacy attorney, was onboarded. Jackie’s deep dive with Fortana’s IT team led to the creation of a data mapping plan, centralizing customer information, which included sensitive geolocation data. She also developed an internal playbook for handling CCPA requests and thoroughly reviewed Fortana’s privacy policies, ensuring GDPR compliance going forward.
Jackie’s comprehensive approach didn’t just solve the immediate crisis; it fortified Fortana’s privacy stance for future challenges. Working in-house with the Fortana team equipped her to be appropriately attuned to the company’s operations, facilitating a quick response to evolving privacy legislation. When Jackie’s tenure concluded, the GC was confident Fortana was well-prepared to comply with privacy laws nationwide.
Scenario 3: Bringing Flexibility to Workflow Management at NuDesk
As NuDesk’s acclaimed HR software gained traction, the company’s legal needs surged, leading to the recruitment of Harry, an interim attorney lawyer with commercial law expertise, to support the HR software business.
NuDesk then shifted its focus to its less popular accounting software, which took off, causing a surge in work. The legal team needed support to handle the influx of work, but the question was whether this spike justified hiring a full-time attorney. Simultaneously, things stabilized for the legal team focused on the HR software, eliminating the need for Harry’s extra support.
The GC acted in a resourceful way to curate a solution. With the HR software’s legal demands now manageable, Harry was adeptly reassigned to the accounting software legal team. This move negated the need for a new hire, optimizing time and resources while maintaining legal continuity.
This was the ideal outcome, as Harry could bring everything he’d learned about the company to his new team. Harry’s interim role allowed him to flexibly transition between teams, a strategic asset for NuDesk. Moreover, after this work spike had abated and Harry left the company, NuDesk asked him to return when they were hit with another work surge several months later. Thanks to his prior experience with the company, he could seamlessly plug back into the legal department. This underscored the GC’s astute use of interim counsel as a key to navigating the fluctuations of a dynamic tech market.
The Strategic Advantage of Interim Counsel
These scenarios underscore the strategic value interim legal counsel brings to corporate legal departments. Whether ensuring compliance with complex legislation, managing unpredictable workloads, or navigating budget constraints, interim counsel provides a high-quality, flexible, and cost-effective solution.
Paragon stands as a testament to this solution, offering interim in-house counsel with a broad spectrum of expertise. Their ability to fit seamlessly into an existing legal team makes them a go-to for GCs facing various business hurdles. Fortana, NuDesk, and Hurricane Games case studies are prime examples of how Paragon’s attorneys can help legal departments adapt, survive, and thrive in the face of any challenge.
In the fast-evolving landscape of corporate law, adaptability, and deep expertise are prized. The interim counsel’s unique blend of flexibility and specialized knowledge can be transformative.
By embracing the power of flexible legal talent, GCs can ensure their departments remain robust, agile, and equipped for the future. If you’re contemplating an interim counsel for your next legal challenge, remember that their contribution can extend beyond maintaining the status quo to significantly enhance your team’s performance at critical times.