What if you outsourced your inhouse legal?
22 - 04 - 2019
No-one loves paying legal fees. And yet early this year, a client of ours – a NASDAQ listed US software company – said:
“2018. was a strong year for [the division] and new software bookings. This would not have been possible without... [Berwins'] dedication to the contractual negotiating and drafting process”.
What’s this about?
This is a company with an inhouse general counsel, based in the USA, which nonetheless regarded us not as a cost, but part of its overall overhead to a really successful year. This is what we call our outsourced inhouse service – where it’s “as if” we’re on the next desk, and the inhouse team can pass over to us elements which are not their strength (such as GDPR for the US team) or use us as their overflow where what they need to get out exceeds their capacity from time to time. Sometimes, too, this is a timezone issue – something needs doing quickly in UK or European time, and West Coast of Mountain time zones will hold things up for a day. We can be a flexible resource, aligned and involved in business objectives and negotiating parameters (such as revenue recognition) so we’re a value-add, not an added cost.
In terms of cost, there is also a benefit for the client in this flexibility; whilst we could charge a retainer, we don’t. The client pays only for what they use, and the amount they use us depends of how much resource they have – which can fluctuate – as well as how busy they are. For us, we can balance our resources across clients, and flex our time too; if they have a fixed cost for legal and procurement staff, that’s there even in quieter times. It’s also the case that their sales guys like to have us involved, because they like our commitment, and the immediacy of our involvement. In businesses like this, we are very much part of the sales process. We’re there to help drives sales through – in the right way – so the lawyers aren’t holding thigs up; they’re helping make things happen.
This outsourcing of otherwise inhouse legal requirements works in other areas too – especially in employment advice.
When we talk about “as if” we’re on the next desk, when it comes to Berwins Digital, sometimes that’s close to how it physically works, because we’re located at Platform in Leeds, a tech hub where several clients ae in the building, and sometimes sharing desks with us. Because we work without paper, without files and from wherever we happen to be, if you want to see your lawyer – he’s just over there …
Paul Berwin is Head of Digital Law at Berwins Digital. He offers targeted advice to a global client base of digital and tech businesses. Industry ranked and with decades of experience, he is one of the foremost authorities on digital law in the North of England.