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What is a Fractional General Counsel and why do you need one?

founders legal risks start-ups & fast growth businesses Feb 08, 2024

Building an in-house legal function is often low on the list of priorities for scaling companies
as there are usually more pressing demands on their budget and resources. 

And consequently, they often either DIY their legals with cheap/free template agreements, rely
on Google and ChatGPT / other AI for answers, and use other sticking plasters until
something goes wrong, or they go too far the other way, using expensive law firms whose
specialist skills and high bills aren’t appropriate for day-to-day needs.  

So legal is at risk of being the business ‘Cinderella’ function – allocated to members of the c-
suite/senior team (often the CFO) who have their own jobs to do so don’t have time to give
it the attention it deserves and understandably aren’t necessarily experienced in dealing
with legal issues.  

A dedicated in-house lawyer may be a long way down the line for many growing companies
but there are still pressing matters which require legal input on a regular basis. However,
this is rarely a full-time requirement at this stage so a fractional resource may be the

Legal should not just be a distress purchase, to be sought in a crisis.

A lawyer working in partnership with a business can add real value through proactive input;

  • prioritising what’s important,
  • reducing risk,
  • contributing to strategy and managing budgets. 

In-house lawyers are an effective way to manage your legal operations - they understand the needs of the
business and will be more pragmatic than specialist law firm lawyers who often take a ‘zero
risk’ approach to problems.  

Law firms have their place, of course, and they should be used for high risk, high value, complex legal work. However, they are the wrong resource for every day legal work.  

If your scaling company doesn’t have the need or budget to employ a full-time in-house lawyer directly, a fractional GC to provide legal support could be the flexible resource you need to help you on your growth journey.  

So why hire a fractional in-house lawyer? 

  1. It’s an investment in growth: An in-house lawyer provides strategic guidance across your day-to-day legal requirements. One of their main jobs is helping speed up the sales cycle by getting contracts closed out quicker and more efficiently. They also manage general risk and compliance, other contracts, intellectual property, and people issues. This helps you make informed decisions that align with your growth strategies.
  2. It prepares you for investment and exit. A fractional GC will help prepare your company and staff for future milestones like fundraising and exit so these run quickly and smoothly when the time comes. Otherwise, legal due diligence issues can hold up and potentially stop a deal from happening. Spending on the right resource now means savings in the future. 
  3. It’s the best way to build an effective legal function and manage your budget: In-house lawyers can help build for current and future needs by putting in processes for self-service and effective risk management across the business – for sales, marketing, tech, people, data, etc. By prioritising and managing legal work a fractional GC will keep budget under control by using the right people, processes and technology. 
  4. It delivers good value: A fractional GC is a cost-effective option, an experienced commercial lawyer without the cost of a full-time role (adding to headcount) or working with a law firm - (which is unlikely to meet the need in the right way and is very expensive). 
  5. It reduces risks: A fractional GC regularly working in your business is best placed to identify legal risks that may threaten your business now or in the future and prioritise dealing with these.  
  6. It’s flexible: You can use a fractional GC on an as-needed basis, scaling up and down as needs fluctuate. Without the cost of a permanent hire this means it’s cost effective too.  
  7. It frees up your c-suite to do their day jobs: A fractional GC will take the burden from your executive team so they can focus on their jobs. Managing and prioritising legal matters and the budget.
  8. It’s adaptable: Legal needs become more complex as a business grows. Fractional GCs can adapt quickly to these changing requirements making best use of the right people and technology available.  

LegalEdge will help set up a cost-effective, efficient legal function for your business. Working
with them, you’ll have an experienced lawyer as your single point of contact who works as
part of your operations team. No duplication and no reinventing the wheel each time. They
get to know your business quickly to manage your legal matters effectively and add value.
And as your fractional in-house GC, just as the benefits outlined above, they can be scaled
up or down depending on needs.

They analyse risk and prioritise what’s important, then manage and carry out the day-to-day
legal work, all to a set budget. They’ve all worked as in-house lawyers in fast growth
companies, so know what you need (and don’t need) to worry about (which is different to a
law firm lawyer). If you’d like to find out more contact them on [email protected]

Written by guest contributor Helen Goldberg

About the Author:

Helen is COO at LegalEdge and runs the business together with CEO Donna to bring their fractional in-house counsel service to scaling companies. Helen and Donna set up LegalEdge to provide a commercially focused and cost-effective legal solution that helps growing businesses scale faster and more effectively. Helen’s aim is to continue to simplify ‘legal’ for companies and to help them integrate it into their operations efficiently. Developing lean and scalable documentation and processes to manage work and reduce risk, and get deals done quicker. She hates ‘over-lawyering’ and is passionate about ensuring legal solutions are pragmatic, straightforward and commercial. She advocates an ‘inside-out’ approach with a focus on helping clients prioritise what’s important so they can proactively manage legal strategy, processes and budget.



  1. Try our Quiz!  Financial Leadership Foundations Scorecard.  
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  3. Work with me as a Founder needing guidance and support from experienced Finance leaders. Take a look at our guide on Outsourced bookkeeping.


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