Private counsel (or 'private lawyers') are quite different. We're not like solicitors, who sit outside of your organisation and are primarily interested in billing you for more hours; nor are we like barristers who specialise to stratospheric levels in very specific and narrow fields.
We're generalists. Our job is to know a small amount of things about, literally, everything; rather than knowing, literally, everything about a small amount of things.
Often, we know a good deal more than a 'small amount'. Getting used to working with Private Counsel and getting the most value from working with one can be a bit of a learning curve for clients, so we've put together a short list of pointers to help maximise the value you get from your Private Counsel:
Include them in Strategy
Your private counsel is the person that you always want in the room when you're developing strategy, making big decisions, or planning deep changes within your family office or business.
They can spot the pitfalls and will often be able to bring 'lessons learned' from past experience to bear.
Include them in Business as Usual
Private Counsel are businesspeople and able to support you as a fully-functioning member of your senior leadership team. They also happen to be lawyers.
Many have MBA's to support their decades of experience and work as non-executive directors to other boards, trusts and charities. Don't just leave the legal questions for them - engage them in your business conversations, too.
Include them in Finance & Structuring
Private Counsel operate daily with bankers, wealth managers, intermediaries and structuring experts. We build business plans; cost models and help to plan for contingencies.
We can assist with the management and maintenance of wealth structures; corporate structures and even personal structures to help you minimise liability/risk in your structure and promote tax-efficiency.
Include them in Marketing
Private Counsel read and write. All, day, long. While not all Private Counsel will be good at originating marketing text; they will all be able to help proof-read your copy.
They will also be able to help you avoid the pitfalls of pre-contractual misrepresentations; 'over-selling'; transgressing advertising standards and letting embarrassing typos make it to print.
Private Counsel are on your team. The more you tell them, the better-equipped they are to help you.
Your Private Counsel will, if necessary, go to war for you - make sure you haven't tied one of their hands behind their back by omitting to mention something that you hope won't come up. It usually comes up.
By sharing and disclosing the most information you can, you can empower your Private Counsel to 'get in front' of the issue; to propose an alternative strategy; or even to start working on 'Plan B' as soon as possible.