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The rise of the interim counsel: Why tech firms are hiring contracting lawyers

For many start-ups and early stage businesses solving legal challenges presents a dilemma. Unforeseen issues may arise without warning, leaving founders without the knowledge to solve the problem in-house. Whilst in the early days founders might use outsourced self-serve products for basic tasks, and pay for an external lawyer to advise on more complex issues, this can quickly become a high cost many start-ups are unable or unwilling to bear.

It’s at this point that companies may think about hiring an in-house counsel. Cost is the most obvious benefit: having a lawyer on the payroll will be far more cost-effective than paying a law firm a hefty hourly rate. But it’s not the only benefit. An in-house counsel can add value across a range of tasks and projects – from contracts, IP, regulatory issues or acquisition. And as they have a deeper knowledge of the business, they can bring a more strategic, long-term approach to legal issues.

However, for many organisations, hiring an in-house counsel can seem like a big commitment. It’s hard to know if they will have enough work, or if their role requirements will be the same after this period of change. As a result, many start-ups are turning to interim talent. Hiring a lawyer on a temporary contract (typically 6 months) gives a flexible solution; they can add value immediately on a range of tasks, as well as establish processes and frameworks to help the company scale. Candidates that have previously worked with other early stage clients can really hit the ground running; they will be used to operating in fast-paced environment that may not have processes in place, and ultimately can be a faster and more effective solution.

For legal professionals too, interim work is becoming increasingly popular. Some prefer the pace and challenge, enjoy bringing their experience to bear in dynamic environments that a high-growth environment offers.

As a business that supports a number of early stage organisations across technology, media and communications we are seeing an increasing demand for interim legal talent as a flexible and cost-effective solution to the challenges faced by high-growth companies. Over the last two years we have built up a well-qualified pool in interim talent giving our clients access to legal support that offer true value in terms of cost and business growth.

If you are considering hiring interim legal talent for your team, please reach out to us for a discussion.