Temp Legal Help: My Outside-Inside Counsel™ Model

Do you need a lawyer for your small tech business to act as a temporary general legal counsel or for a finite-timeline project or to replace someone on maternity or paternity leave?

The question is always Build versus Buy – that is, hire someone permanently (or “on-contract”), retain an outside lawyer from a firm, or use a “temp law” agency. 

If you go the permanent hire route, you are exposed to the risk of a bad hire – especially when it comes to a lawyer – and a mistake could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can also go with the “on-contract” position but, you will probably attract a lower quality candidate who will be looking for her or his next job starting on Day 1 of the contract.

Of course, you can always tap your Bay Street firm for help – which will probably (but, not necessarily) be excellent for the short time that you can afford the hourly or daily rate.

Or, you can consider a “temp law” agency – which is probably why you have come across my webpage.

In Canada, since about 2005, temp law agencies (and some other hybrid types) have sprouted up quickly because there were (and are) so many unemployed lawyers out there with no other options.  Typically, the types of lawyers that sign-up with temp legal agencies are those who have not been able to make it in private practice (at a law firm or as a solo-practitioner) or in-house.  The question is: do you really want to hire that type of person for your company – even on a temporary basis?  (Look, you may find a diamond or two out there on occasion but, the vast majority of professional temp lawyers have been relegated to such a role for a reason.  Sorry to be so blunt but, that’s my style.) 

The typical driver for using a temp law agency is cost but, is it worth it?

The feedback I have received from in-house counsel who have used temp law lawyers is that it was a waste of time and money, the savings were illusory when factoring in the supervisory time required, and the legal work done by the temp lawyers had to be redone or revised by their in-house lawyers.  The most problematic issue cited to me was the negative feedback from the sales or other executives on whose projects temp lawyers were assigned. 

That’s where I usually come in.

I have been acting as Outside-Inside CounselTM to various clients since I founded my solo, boutique outsourcing and tech practice in 2003 and I have perfected it to the point where none of the lawyers at temp agencies can replicate the quality of my legal work, my service levels, or my flexibility. 

The nature of my practice is that I typically go from deal to deal but, in between (and sometimes following a deal), I will be engaged for an “in-house” role but, as an “outside” counsel – which is why I call my model Outside-Inside CounselTM

I structure various types of retainers for the legal need, deal, or project in issue.  For example:

The net-net is that because I work for myself and have low-overhead, I adapt my model and pricing to my clients’ needs – not vice versa. (That is, with temp law agencies, you have to fit into one of their models – i.e. the one that makes them the most money.)

Look, after you’re done doing your research on temp law agencies or if you’re reading this page because you have had a bad experience with temp legal help but, still need that help, then, just Contact Me and I will reply promptly.

George J. Atis
Lawyer - Counsellor - Advocate