“What does a general counsel lawyer do?” This question comes up sometimes when we mention that this is one of the services we offer. Even though this role tends to wear many hats, here are a few ideas of what is often done in this position.
General Counsel Lawyers Review Contracts
One of the most common things that general counsel lawyers do is review transactional documents. For example, let’s say you’re setting up a new contract with a big customer. Every single word of the contract is important. General counsel lawyers will carefully comb through it. We want to make sure our client isn’t opening themselves up to a big loophole.
One example of a potential loophole is if the other party gives themselves an easy way to back out of a contract. To an untrained eye, the contract may seem fine. However, lawyers are trained to look for that type of language and will help the client avoid the mistake.
Another example may be reviewing a contract with a potential business partner. Business partners are great for certain things, but they can also open up the company for a lot of pain if the contract is poorly worded.
General Counsel Lawyers Help Manage Acquisitions
It is generally much faster for a company to grow through acquiring smaller companies than to grow organically. Acquiring smaller companies opens the opportunity to leverage their existing assets including industry knowledge, talent, contacts, existing customers and technology. Acquisitions are also a great way for companies to break into a new market they’re interested in quickly.
The problem is that acquisitions and mergers can be very messy. Large mergers and acquisitions are sometimes years in the making, but even smaller ones can take a few months thanks to due diligence. This is where the acquiring company digs into the smaller company’s financials to make sure everything is in order.
While accountants and financial specialists are some of the most important roles in an acquisition, the general counsel comes into play as well. We verify the legal documents are well-written and won’t open the door for issues later on.
General Counsel Lawyers Work with Human Resources
Companies large enough to have an HR person will hire us to work on various projects. For example, we may help them during a hiring and firing process to make sure they aren’t doing anything that can be seen as wrong or illegal. Certain demographics are protected against discrimination, and leadership may accidentally do something that can be seen as discriminating against that person. We help avoid those types of messy situations.
Another example is writing an employee manual. This is something that general counsel will often review to make sure it’s not asking or recommending employees to do something against the law. That doesn’t happen often, but it’s still good to have the manual double-checked to be safe.
There are a lot of other things general counsel lawyers do such as review patents, licensing agreements and advice on trademarks and copyrights. If you have any specific questions, give us a call at 714. 456. 9118. We look forward to helping you any way that we can.