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How to Build an Effective In-House Counsel Team for Your Organisation


How to Build an Effective In-House Counsel Team for Your Organisation

Currently, many Vietnamese enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises, tend to build an effective in-house counsel team instead of spending budget on setting up and maintenance of an independent legal department. However, since a team is not under the direct management of the enterprise, building and maintaining an in-house counsel team can also involve certain risks. Moreover, if not adjusted, managed and operated properly, maintenance will also waste resources of the enterprise. Therefore, through this article, Phuoc and Partners will send readers an analysis titled “How to Build an Effective In-House Counsel Team for Your Organisation“.

Steps to build an effective in-house counsel team for your organisation

Step 1: Determining the organisational need

Based on the business situation and field of operation of the enterprise, each enterprise will have different needs to use legal services provided by a team of in-house counsel. Depending on the specific nature of each industry, business line as well as organisational structure, enterprises will choose legal areas that need support from in-house counsels.

To identify the necessary areas, enterprises can set criteria for evaluation such as: (i) the nature and level of risks related to business activities, (ii) legal compliance requirements (iii) long-term strategic orientation of the enterprise. By defining such general criteria, enterprises will be able to specify their need to use in-house counsels as well as expenses optimisation  related to this service.

Step 2: Consulting the market of in-house counsel services at reputable law firms

Before embarking on building an effective in-house counsel team for your enterprise, consulting the market for in-house counsel services at reputable law firms is an extremely important step. This helps enterprises have an overview of the current situation of the market, and at the same time provides the necessary information to shape the appropriate human resource strategy. In the present time, law offices and law firms provide a variety of in-house counsel services with a variety of fields as well as prices. This allows enterprises to have the opportunity to consult and choose between service prices corresponding to the type and legal field that needed support. Enterprises can actively consult the fee quotes of many reputable law firms to have a basis for comparing legal service fees, service quality, and scope of work of each unit before making a selection. Enterprises can also evaluate the service quality of law firms through reading specialised articles, magazines or even seeking feedback from enterprises that have used their services, thereby choosing suitable legal services provided by reputable and competent lawyers in the respective field.

Step 3: Determining the budget for the use of in-house counsel services

To build an effective in-house counsel team for your organisation, determining a budget for the use of in-house counsel services is also an important step to ensure efficiency in the implementation process. Based on financial capabilities, enterprises should set a certain budget in the use of in-house counsel. This helps ensure the proper allocation of resources of the enterprise, avoiding budget overspending, affecting other activities of the enterprise. Clearly defining the budget and budget reserve also helps enterprises make appropriate choices in terms of quantity, quality, and areas where in-house counsels will participate in supporting enterprises.

Step 4: Setting up a work monitoring system with in-house counsel’ work and build a system of criteria for evaluating the performance of in-house counsel.

The nature of legal services were much different from other fields such as accounting, engineering, banking, etc. Therefore, evaluating the results of the in-house counsel team is often quite complex and requires enterprises to have a detailed work monitoring system such as specifically recording activities, progresses and results of each project or case,  or establish a separate criteria system for legal retainer services provided by lawyers, etc. At the same time, when entering into contracts for providing legal services, enterprises also need to pay attention to the terms related to the scope of work,  completion time, tasks that are not within the scope of services and conditions to be determined as work fulfilment to ensure supervision and understanding of the work that in-house counsels are performing so that  the evaluation of the work results of in-house counsels.

Notices for enterprise when implementing an in-house counsel team

  1. Regarding the confidentiality of enterprise’ information

Regarding the confidentiality of information, when entering into contracts for providing legal services, enterprises should pay attention to regulations related to the provision of information and documents to in-house counsel. Specifically, enterprises need to sign a confidentiality agreement with a service-providing lawyer to ensure confidentiality responsibilities as well as a basis for disputes resolving arise thereafter (if any). By signing a confidentiality agreement, enterprises can be assured when providing internal information, know-hows, and technology secrets of the enterprise to in-house counsel for them to perform legal services.

  1. Regarding the scope of work of in-house counsels

In addition to confidentiality, the scope of in-house counsel’ work also needs to be fully compatible with the specific needs of the enterprise. You need to clearly identify the legal areas that need support and ensure that the legal services provided can meet these requirements. Normally, the scope of work for each case will be different, therefore, enterprises from time to time will need to review, even make suggestions on quarterly or annual amendments to ensure efficiency with retainer services provided by in-house counsel. These amendments and supplements should be made into an annex to the contract to ensure consistency and inherit the scope of work from the original legal service contract.

  1. Regarding disputes resolving arising with in-house counsels

In essence, in-house counsel is one of the legal services that law offices and law firms provide to enterprises. Therefore, in the process of performing the work, it will be difficult to avoid disputes and conflicts of interest between both parties. In addition to the confidentiality and scope of work issues mentioned above, enterprise should also consider requesting in-house counsel to commit to not be in conflict of interest and/or agreed in advance on the governing law and select a dispute resolution agency in case a dispute arises.

Above is the article titled “How to Build an Effective In-House Counsel Team for Your Organisation” that Phuoc and Partners would like to share with readers. If you encounter any difficulties related to the legal field, please contact us.  Phuoc and Partners established in Vietnam and currently has nearly 100 members working in three offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Da Nang. Phuoc & Partners is also considered one of the law firms with a team of staff specialising in the leading legal field in Vietnam and whose practice areas are rated top in the legal market such as Labour and Employment, Taxation, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Litigation. We are confident that we are one of the Law Firms providing the best legal services to our clients.