A Private Counsel is an outsourced, in-house lawyer. Unlike a General Counsel, who works full-time for one organisation or family, a Private Counsel assists a limited number of clients on an ongoing basis.
Private Counsel means: a dedicated, experienced top lawyer, available at all times to render legal services to your business or organisation.
Private Counsel does not operate as a traditional law firm which has to be engaged separately for each question or new case, as a result of which time and money are wasted on orientation and briefing. Your Private Counsel lawyer renders services in a different way, by advising and assisting a limited number of clients on a permanent basis and in a more personal way. As counsel, business partner and trusted advisor.
Unlike a traditional solicitor or law firm, a Private Counsel does not need to be engaged separately for each new matter or case. They're already engaged. Some charge retainers, while others operate on a 'pay-as-you-need' basis.
This comes with a core benefit of not needing to spend time briefing, reading-in or meeting with new lawyers to find the best fit. You've already found it, and your Private Counsel already knows everything you've previously told them.
Most Private Counsel are qualified either as a solicitor or barrister, while others may be qualified in overseas jurisdictions or by experience. Generally, they provide unreserved legal services (those that are not regulated by law), employing specialists to handle reserved legal matters.
A Trusted Advisor
Also unlike a traditional solicitor or law firm, Private Counsel sit 'on the inside'. Everything you tell them is confidential, so you can use them as a sounding board, support mechanism, problem-solver or fixer.
Private Counsel operate on a 'partnership' model with their clients; they are 'in it for the long haul', so it is incumbent upon them to ensure that they give you great, consistent, long-term advice, every time.
A Business Partner / Family Office Director
Many Private Counsel work with their clients' businesses, trusts, households and families. They are 'part of the family' (though rarely literally).
They are business partners not in the sense of co-founders or co-investors (this would, surely, be a conflict of interest), but in the sense of being able to offer more than just legal opinion.
Many have MBA's, sit on charities, trusts or as non-executive directors on boards, exposing them to a wide range of situations, solutions and lessons learned on a continuous basis.