Updates and advice for attorneys and law departments.

Engaging Temporary Attorneys: Illustrating the value proposition to your CFO

There are many instances throughout the year when the General Counsel (GC) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) must collaborate on legal/financial concerns because both have an obligation to protect the company’s resources. They each have a compelling and appropriate prioritization for the management of corporate funds, yet they must find a compromise that satisfies the requirements for both.

As General Counsel or Chief Legal Officer, have you ever had to negotiate an agreement with your company’s CFO to fund the additional legal talent you need to manage your law department effectively?  Assuaging the CFO’s concerns about increasing the expense budget is easier when you understand their position and can speak their language.   

Your CFO is charged with much more than just cash flow. They are critically aware of the overall financial strengths and weaknesses of the organization; they are constantly analyzing. They are key players in many of the same strategic decisions that involve the GC or CLO: new markets, vendors, leasing agreements; mergers and acquisitions; risks, liabilities, and insurance.

Keeping this in mind while you effectively communicate the high value and low cost of temporary talent to your CFO can reveal a win-win situation for everyone involved.  Below you will find some talking points to inform the conversation. 

Temporary Attorneys Provide High Value to the Legal Department

There are instances when a law department lacks the specific set of legal skills needed for a particular short-term case or project. Engaging a temporary attorney to meet this demand assures that the company always maintains adequate (and affordable) legal representation. Benefits include:

  • The attorney brings the precise legal skills required by the project, so they’re ready to work the moment they arrive.
  • In terms of quality and commitment, a temporary attorney is VERY LOW RISK – they are proven assets (often very experienced); the engagement period is short-term by design, and can be terminated at any time.
  • Temporary attorneys relieve in-house counsel of expensive up-skilling processes and allow them to focus on the ongoing legal processes already in progress.
  • Periodically engaging a temp attorney supports LONG-TERM VIABILITY – they provide new perspectives, act as expert counsel, and ensure current employees don’t get overloaded; the company keeps the current talent engaged and energized and minimizes costly turnover.


Low Impact on the Corporate Bottom Line

Instances arise when the company budget does not allow for a full-time legal staff addition mid-year. Again, engaging a temporary attorney alleviates the CFO’s anxiety caused by recognizing the need for an explicit skill set but not having the funds to cover their cost.

  • With a temporary attorney, your enterprise is the client, and it has total control over the terms of the engagement. The GC (or another member of the legal team) works with Assigned Counsel to clarify the legal need, its cost, and its timeframe. Using our online services, you can monitor progress, hourly consumption, and expenses incurred.
  • Engaging a temporary attorney is FAST and SIMPLE – your cost in time and manpower to bring on a temp attorney averages less than 12 hours to define the requirements, interview the best candidates, make a selection, and complete the agreement. (Hiring actions are measured in months, not hours.)
  • Temporary attorneys cost less than half the rates of outside counsel to do the work. They are exclusively dedicated to your team and project, unlike outside counsel attorneys who have many potential calendar conflicts and other interferences.
  • Engaging temporary attorneys provides an opportunity to audition legal talent on a temp-to-perm basis, postponing employment-based liabilities until new budgets are available. When a conversion is desired, the process is simple.


Added Bonus: Potential Growth

Another strong argument for expressing the value-add aspect of the temporary attorney is the potential to uncover not-yet-explored opportunities for corporate growth. Too often, long-term employees – lawyers or others – are entrenched in their day-to-day activities, and they don’t see the opportunities that might hide within those routine details.

A new set of eyes and legal skills applying their own ‘outsider’ perspectives, however, can reveal options in existing assets or resources that the rest of the crew has missed or doesn’t recognize. It’s entirely likely that benefits resulting from these opportunities could even cover the cost of the professional who brought them.

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