What is Legal Counsel?
Legal Counsel is an individual or an organization that offers advisory services that deals in various legal matters such as negotiations. The title, “legal counsel” is also interchangeably with the title “lawyer”. A legal counsel refers to a practitioner of law who is allowed to practice in all the courts of law. Legal counsels are hired by large or mid-sized corporations to handle legal matters and disputes. These “counsellors” are lawyers by profession and education background but take the title of “legal counsel” due to their employment with, and role within, certain firms.
Lawyer Vs. Legal Counsel
The main difference between a lawyer and a legal counsellor is that a lawyer may have their own form or may work independently as an advocate. On the other hand, a legal counsellor is employed by a firm or organization to handle all the legal matters and disputes that the firm encounters. Legal counsellors usually do not work independently unlike lawyers. Lawyers are paid by their clients on the factors such as hours worked and the outcome of the case. Legal counsellors are salaried employees who tend to receive additional incentives and bonuses associated with successful outcomes from negotiations and legal disputes.
The function of Legal Counsel in Business
A legal counsellor handles all law-related matters that a company encounters. Some of them are:
- Conducting research on different laws and regulations in various geographic and political environments
- Drafting legal documents as required by the company, based on situations and clients
- Negotiating settlement terms with individuals of interest
- Handling legal disputes with other corporations and individuals
- Documenting and filing taxes according to different systems of taxation
- Documenting and filing documents related to IP ( Intellectual Property)
- Managing legal risk
Lawyers tend to specialize in a single area of practice – such as intellectual property, real estate, bankruptcy, immigration, negotiation, patent law, etc. Therefore, companies that do not employ in-house legal counsellors must pursue different lawyers for different types of legal matters. On the other hand, legal counsellor functions as a general lawyer who handles all legal matters in a company. This reduces the cost of recruitment and the need for multiple individual lawyers. Legal counsellors can be beneficial for companies that tend to come across legal matters and disputes regularly.