To keep a law firm or solicitor on hand to cater to all your legal needs (or most of it), you can establish a written RETAINERSHIP Agreement between yourself or your business and a law firm.
A retainer fee is then paid to secure the law firm’s availability, typically in the form of an annual fee calculated according to your legal needs and other business considerations. This affords you several advantages:
1. YOU PREPARE FOR UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES
Research has shown that the cost to fix basic legal problems can be up to 20 times (or even more) expensive than doing things right from the beginning.
Unlike hiring a lawyer on case by case basis, as you are slammed with a law suit, a good relationship with a law firm should be ongoing to even prevent or get you the best when the issues arise.
When you work with a lawyer on case by case basis once the lawsuit is over and the work is done, we are gone – until you end up in court again! Good for us, but not so good for you.
The lawyer’s relationship with a client should be an ongoing one where frequent contact is required to truly get the benefits of working together.
2. IT CREATES A HIGHER DEGREE OF CERTAINTY
By having a solicitor on retainer, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that reliable legal advice or representation will be available whenever you need it.
For business owners, this is especially important, as they are constantly grappling with a range of legal requirements from corporate statutory filings and compliance, employment related issues, pensions matters, due diligence, property and conveyance matters, immigration and foreign participation in your business, intellectual property, data protection and confidentiality issues, tax matters and many more.
With a law firm on retainer, you can comfortably get the legal guidance you need without worrying about the cost of each phone call or consultation.
3. YOU GET THE RIGHT SKILLS SET WHICH IS FURTHER DEVELOPED SPECIALLY FOR YOU
Every business will thrive more on certainty than uncertainty and will do better working with service providers who already understand the company and its needs.
Instead of sourcing a new lawyer as and when needed, hiring a law firm on retainer helps you “avoid the rush” which could lead to a mistake when you have to contract one while an emergency has arisen. You may end up with one that is not a specialist in your area of need, or one that may require more time (than available in the instance) to understand the issues arising from your business dealings.
Retaining a solicitor also allows the firm to gain a more in-depth understanding of your business’ interconnected challenges. This way, you will be able to work with solicitors within the firm who are best suited to your changing legal needs.
4. YOU BUDGET PROPERLY AND YOU SAVE MONEY
You know for certain how much you want to spend on the legal aspect of your business even before the commencement of the fiscal year. You also get all you need in legal services just for a fraction of the cost.
Imagine having to hire a lawyer or law firm for each issue arising from your business including each employees contract or termination; each time you are slammed with a law suit or need to institute one; preparation of simple agreements or vetting same; registering a new company; conducting due diligence or several other legal requirements that are bound to arise.
The sum of all you pay on case by case basis will be at least five (5) times what you pay on a retainer. This is asides the likelihood that you may incur much more than 20 times your retainer budget if you end up with a costly mistake for not taking necessary legal precautions.
Again, if you frequently require the services of a lawyer, be it for expert advice or representation, paying a retainer fee is far more affordable than employing an in-house team to handle your company’s legal demands.
Let’s do this math. If you employ one inhouse counsel and you pay her N300,000 monthly, you would have paid N3.6m in one year, aside other benefits like leave allowance, official car, pensions etc. She could give you some quality services. Again, you may need several of her in-house to handle the workload as best desired.
But then you consider that you can have seven ( 7 ) or more broadly experienced lawyers all working for you if you retain the services of the firm they work with and this could be for about half of what you would pay one person in the first option. Wow !!
Having the right mix of legal minds on hand for any and every issue, no matter how big or small the issue is, can also prevent costly and time-consuming legal disputes, and help you avoid civil or criminal liabilities in the long run.
5. YOU DEVELOP A LONGTERM RELATIONSHIP
Having a longstanding relationship with a law firm through a retainer agreement means the firm can get to know your business and develop a strong legal framework to protect your specific business interests and help improve your company’s operations.
It also means your business will always be compliant with any changes to legislation over time, and that your solicitors can continuously work to find the best legal solutions to any problems your business may face.
This is the time to make plans for your New Year
© ASTUTE SOLICITORS (Jimmy Abia & Co.)