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What Does a General Counsel Offer for Your Business?

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As your company grows, especially in a  globally-oriented market, you may find yourself wondering – is it time to retain a general counsel, and what exactly can a general counsel offer my businesses?

Whether you have a large company focused on changing the world or a smaller company focussed on changing your corner of the globe, understanding regulatory and compliance is essential to your business’s success.

More than just legal expertise, a general counsel can help you navigate obstacles regarding legal compliance across all jurisdictions and areas including banking, investment, insurance, trading, lending, and more. We discuss below how a general counsel can benefit your business, ultimately leaving you more time to focus on what really matters.

General counsel ensures that your business is in legal compliance across all of your jurisdictions.

Each jurisdiction your business enters comes with a separate set of laws and regulations that you must conform to. The larger your business, the more areas of compliance you will need to consider. On top of this, as the legal landscape changes rapidly to respond to new and evolving technologies, your business will also need to stay on top of these changes.

A general counsel can help guide you through the minefield of complex laws, regulations and third-party guidelines, ensuring compliance with all outside legal requirements. More than this, general counsel can provide you a complete overview of how your business objectives and operational goals fit into the laws of each country, state, and region. For example, in some areas you will need to consider:

  • Employment laws. What benefits are your employees entitled to? What employment conditions must you provide and when and how can you terminate an employee? Employment laws widely differ in different countries and there may even be state and federal laws you need to consider. Ensuring compliance with employment laws is crucial to preventing employee lawsuits.
  • Industry regulations. All businesses are subject to numerous and specific industry regulations. When you fail to meet industry regulations, you may face fines and fees as well as other legal repercussions, including the potential for jail time or the disbandment of your company. A general counsel can provide expert advice and help develop company policy to ensure the highest level of compliance with outside regulatory and legal requirements. 
  • Environmental regulations. Depending on where your business is located, you may face unique environmental regulations, including whether you need permits or licenses to engage in certain activities and how you deal with waste, pollution and natural resources. 
  • Security requirements. Cybersecurity laws are rapidly evolving. In order to protect your business and your customers, you must have a cybersecurity policy that complies with industry standards as well as local laws. Typically,  Europe has more stringent cybersecurity requirements than the United States. Your general counsel will ensure that you meet all of those security requirements no matter where you do business.
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General counsel can help you prepare for potential legal challenges.

A general counsel’s role is to help mitigate the risk and shield companies from infractions that may lead to lawsuits, sanctions, financial loss and damage to reputation. 

However, in spite of your determined efforts to stay within the law and keep up with industry regulations, you may at some point be faced with a lawsuit. An accident at one of your locations that results in injury to an employee, a breach of contract lawsuit in spite of your best efforts to keep up with your contractual obligations, or a discrimination lawsuit due to the actions of a worker acting outside your company’s regulations.

Your general counsel can develop risk management strategies that help you prepare for potential legal challenges. This could include ensuring that your business has the proper insurance to protect you in the event of a lawsuit, maintaining your public reputation or creating a plan for how you will handle certain events if a problem does arise. When you have a plan of action already in place, you can react quickly and decisively to legal challenges when they arise.

A general counsel will also help you prepare for a legal challenge by developing a defense strategy, collecting evidence, communicating with the other party’s lawyers, and keeping business owners and investors informed about relevant information throughout the legal process.

Following a lawsuit, your general counsel will also provide vital recommendations that will help prevent you from facing the same legal concerns in the future. You may not be able to go back in time and change the initial event that led to a lawsuit, but you can work with your general counsel to ensure that you do not face similar lawsuits again.

General counsel can review your contracts and ensure that they pose no potential legal problems for your business.

As a business, you must always remain aware of the laws and regulations that govern the country where you operate. Unfortunately, not all of your clients will show the same level of care and consideration as they create their contracts and agreements.

Your general counsel can review and draft legal contracts and agreements ensuring they best protect your company and comply with all outside regulations. 

General counsel can guide you through mergers and buyouts.

As your business grows, you may eventually choose to merge with or buy out another business, expanding both your size and your position in the industry. Mergers and buyouts come with a number of financial and legal challenges that can impact your business. On top of handling the paperwork, your general counsel can help:

  • Ensure that you do your due diligence. You don’t want to acquire a new company that will negatively impact your own. While some companies specialize in buying struggling businesses and turning them around, you do not want to acquire a company with substantial legal struggles or pending lawsuits, especially those that could have a negative impact on your business when the purchase is complete. 
  • Ensure that all the details of the merger are acquired. For example, your general counsel can take a look at exactly what assets are included in your purchase of a new business. If you miss fully understanding what assets come along with the business, you could have unrealistic expectations for what you will need to get up and running once the acquisition is complete. 

General counsel can help guide you through the collections process.

When your clients fail to pay their bills on time, it can lead to serious financial concerns for your business. A general counsel is often heavily involved in the collections process, from writing letters of demand, helping you assess when to make a deal and when to initiate action.

General counsel can help with many of your fundraising requirements. 

Fundraising brings with it a number of legal responsibilities and unique requirements. When the time comes to gather funds to get your start-up off the ground, expand your operations or for essential upgrades, general counsel can guide you through the process, forms,  term sheets and communication with shareholders.

How we can help

If you’re considering a general counsel for your business, we can help! Whether you have a niche spot in your industry or you have a globally-focused business, we’ll take care of your general counsel needs.  Let us navigate the regulations, so you can disrupt the future without reservation.