Corporate Counsel: Why You Need a Team of In-House Lawyers

April 16, 2024

Corporate Counsel

Business owners usually have a lot of legal responsibilities to handle, and there’s no escaping them. Some are simpler than others, but as the business grows, so will the legal paperwork.

From compliance to contracts, staying on top of this part of business operations can become a full-time job. And without a legal background, the potential for errors is high. 

That’s where having corporate counsel on your team can help.

As part of their responsibilities, corporate counsel should also work closely with the human resources (HR) team to ensure the legality of all business operations. Tools like HR compliance software are essential for staying up-to-date with regulatory and compliance laws and managing the associated work.

Industries that use corporate counsel 

Every industry can benefit from bringing legal counsel in-house rather than contracting out to an external law firm. For highly regulated industries, especially those where compliance laws change frequently, having a corporate counsel can be more cost effective in the long term. Some of the most common industries to use corporate counsel are:

  • Food and beverage: Restaurants, bars, wineries, and even food manufacturers are all subject to regulations regarding how they operate, who they sell to, and the health and safety of their customers.
  • Healthcare: As one of the most highly regulated industries, healthcare companies like private medical clinics, dental practices, and cosmetic treatment centers can all benefit from having in-house legal representation. 
  • Construction: The potential for legal issues in the construction industry is high. Whether it’s planning for a new building or dealing with construction issues after the building is complete, corporate counsel can represent the construction firm for any issues that may arise.
  • Real estate: Like construction, the real estate industry comes with seemingly endless legal paperwork and potential problems. Development, sales, and property management companies are some of the most common businesses in this industry to use corporate counsel.
  • Manufacturing: Creating products, or the components that make products, typically need legal support for every stage of their creation. Patents and trademarks to protect manufacturing designs and plans, agreements with vendors, and contracts on final sales are all areas that corporate counsel can help with. 
  • Cannabis: Cannabis-related businesses are not yet legal in every state, but for those that are, the regulations for growers, retailers, and wholesalers are extensive. Corporate counsel can help these companies work through licensing and compliance issues as they come up.

What does corporate counsel do?

The way that corporate counsel works is very similar to any other lawyer or attorney. But instead of working at a bigger law firm with several clients, they work for the business they represent. The day-to-day responsibilities, though, are much the same.

Their work may involve some travel if attending legal proceedings outside the office, and, like external lawyers, they’re expected to keep up with the latest regulations and compliance laws that could impact the company. Generally, corporate counsel can work on:

  • Negotiating and drafting contracts: Said negotiation could be between clients, the business, vendors, or suppliers. In the real estate industry, contracts between homebuyers or tenants of a property are a significant part of the job for corporate counsel.
  • Guiding legal liabilities: When businesses are looking to acquire new assets or take on risk, corporate counsel will provide an analysis outlining the risks and rewards of pursuing this.
  • Researching acquisitions and mergers: Businesses that are looking to purchase and merge with another company go through several stages of research before an agreement can be made. Corporate counsel can look into all levels of the business’s history, like legal and financial status, to provide accurate details to senior leadership before a decision is made.
  • Filing patents or trademarks: Companies that create unique intellectual or physical property will likely want to file trademarks to prevent competitors from taking their ideas and creating something similar. The internal legal team is responsible for putting together this information and filing the documents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Reviewing company documents: Every business will have at least a handful of internal documents like employee handbooks, onboarding documentation, or business operations materials that need to be checked by a lawyer to ensure accuracy. For highly regulated industries, even marketing materials must be checked before they can be released to the public.
  • Filing litigation of lawsuits: If a business needs to file a lawsuit, having corporate counsel can save time and money in preparing paperwork and taking the case to court.
  • Answering legal questions from internal departments: Teams may have questions or concerns about legal matters at any moment. Corporate counsel can answer those questions and work closely with the department to support them in whatever way they need.

Benefits of corporate counsel

Having a team of professional legal advisors on hand at any moment significantly benefits businesses in all kinds of industries. Even for small businesses, corporate counsel can be a helpful addition to the team.


Even entry-level attorneys can charge hundreds of dollars per hour for counsel. Having an in-house employee or team of lawyers can reduce costs over outsourcing to an external firm. There are no hourly fees, and any employee can reach out for support without worrying about eating into a legal fees budget.

Timely advice

Having corporate counsel available, particularly for urgent legal matters, means that any issues can be dealt with quickly and without having to incur rush fees. Immediate advice is on hand to prevent problems from escalating, and as these are employees of the company, there’s no concern over lawyers not having time to help due to other client needs.

Business-specific expertise

Corporate counsel's being part of a single company is an advantage for them as much as it is for the business. They have the opportunity to know the business inside and out, from business goals to operations. They’ll also become familiar with the company’s industry, which makes identifying potential risks or compliance changes much faster.

Proactive compliance and risk management

For growing businesses and those in regulated industries, changes to compliance laws can range from annoyance to work-halting measures. With in-house legal counsel, any updates to regulations can be dealt with as soon as the information is available. Corporate counsel can also mitigate any foreseeable risks to the business and draft new contracts or policies as quickly as possible, reducing the chances of ongoing legal disputes or compliance violations.

Keep your own counsel

Focus on the aspects of growing a business that matters most to you and leave the legal jargon to the experts. And with an internal team on hand, any issues can be handled before they become a problem. It’s really that simple.

Give your corporate counsel the tools they need to be successful with legal practice management software to track and store legal documentation for the whole company.

HR compliance tools
Let the lawyers do the work!

Keep your legal team happy with HR compliance tools that organize your company's most important documents.

HR compliance tools
Let the lawyers do the work!

Keep your legal team happy with HR compliance tools that organize your company's most important documents.

Corporate Counsel: Why You Need a Team of In-House Lawyers Corporate counsel are a team of legal experts that work in-house at a company, rather than for multiple at once. Learn the benefits of having one on staff.
Holly Landis Holly Landis is a freelance writer for G2. She also specializes in being a digital marketing consultant, focusing in on-page SEO, copy, and content writing. She works with SMEs and creative businesses that want to be more intentional with their digital strategies and grow organically on channels they own. As a Brit now living in the USA, you'll usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea in her cherished Anne Boleyn mug while watching endless reruns of Parks and Rec.

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