Outside counsel guidelines are a set of instructions and expectations that a company provides to its outside counsel, outlining the scope of the work to be performed, the terms of engagement, and the billing arrangements. These guidelines serve as a framework for the relationship between the company and its outside counsel and help ensure that both parties understand each other’s expectations. Typically, a company will have one set of guidelines that is followed by each law firm they use but it is common that law firms will negotiate some, if not all, of these terms given the number of clients they have.
Outside counsel guidelines are important for several reasons:
- Clarify expectations between the company and their law firms: By providing clear instructions and expectations, outside counsel guidelines help ensure that the outside counsel understands the scope of the work to be performed, the expected outcomes, and the timelines. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that the work is completed on time and within budget.
- Control costs so no unexpected issues arise after the work is completed: Outside counsel guidelines can help the company control costs by specifying the billing rates and fee arrangements for the legal services to be provided, and by requiring the outside counsel to maintain accurate time records and provide detailed invoices.
- Ensure compliance to meet regulatory or internal policies: Outside counsel guidelines can help ensure that the outside counsel complies with the company’s policies and procedures, including those related to conflicts of interest, confidentiality, and data security.
- Foster communication to ensure efficient execution: Outside counsel guidelines can help establish the communication protocols between the company and its outside counsel, including the frequency and mode of communication, and the reporting requirements. This can help ensure that both parties are informed and can work together effectively.
- Evaluate performance post matter resolution or completion: Outside counsel guidelines can help the company evaluate the performance of its outside counsel by establishing performance metrics such as responsiveness, quality of work, and adherence to budget. This can help the company make informed decisions about whether to continue working with the outside counsel in the future.
Overall, outside counsel guidelines are an important tool for ensuring that the relationship between the company and its outside counsel is productive, cost-effective, and compliant with the company’s policies and procedures. These guidelines can also help a company benchmark different firms for future use.