Atlanta Business Attorney Offers Proactive General Counsel Services
Changing the Process to Deliver Value for Your Company
Are your litigation costs too high? Are you in court/mediation/arbitration too often for too many issues? Do your operations stall while your lawyers attempt to resolve disputes? If you’ve ever wondered what value your business derives from its legal counsel, you may be ready for a new approach to general counsel services. I’m Paul M. Spizzirri, an accomplished business attorney in practice for more than 20 years, and I’m prepared to show you how to change the way you interface with your legal counsel. As your outside general counsel, I am a strategic partner, not a detached observer. I don’t just step in when you get into trouble; I get in the way of trouble so it doesn’t reach or affect you.
It’s Time to Optimize Your Legal Ecosystem
The model I use for proactive attorney-client interface is that of a healthy ecosystem. In nature, there is balance, harmony, and growth, because each part of the system functions to serve the whole. In business, litigation is like an invasive disease that kills the fruits of your business and can even cause its roots to wither and die. But a healthy legal ecosystem minimizes waste from litigation, enhances asset value, and spurs growth.
Here are a few points that illustrate this model:
Budget and financial control — Are your legal expenses out of proportion to your overall budget? I use optimal project management practices to rein in legal expenses. I can forecast what your legal expenses are likely to be, which frees capital for investment.
Contract management — I conduct due diligence on existing contracts to determine areas of risk and then take steps to head off potential disputes. This practice strengthens your company’s relationship with customers and vendors, so you can enjoy more mutually profitable transactions.
Risk management — I take proactive steps to reduce the risk of your business ventures, which improves your profitability. Those steps include everything from reviewing insurance policies to securing your intellectual property.
Regulatory compliance — Compliance issues can be as toxic to your legal ecosystem as civil litigation. I review your company’s compliance procedures, provide guidelines for required documentation, and help your business adopt best practices.
Alternate dispute resolution — Your business cannot thrive on Pyrrhic victories. An uncollectible judgment is worthless. As your general counsel, I identify profit opportunities in conflict resolution and advise you accordingly.
Under this model, attorney and client commit to continuous process improvement. We work together to keep the ecosystem healthy. Soon, your reactive legal costs from litigation drop, and you begin to see the value in proactive legal services as your business thrives.
Outside General Counsel
Atlanta Attorney Serves as Outside General Counsel for Small and Medium-sized Businesses Worldwide
Delivering Value by Shifting the Legal Spend From Reactive Costs to Proactive Investments That Build Value
Although every commercial enterprise winds up needing litigation services at some point, too many businesses “fight the bad fight.” That is, they get into business and commercial disputes they could have avoided with a measure of preventative care. Why does this happen? In most cases, it’s the result of a misplaced emphasis that creates a serious conflict of interest between the business and its own attorneys! Imagine you have a luxury car that guzzles gas. Because your fuel bill is so high, you decide not to do any preventative maintenance. Instead, you tell the mechanic, “Stand by, and I’ll bring the car in when it breaks down.” So, instead of getting a $60 oil change, you have to replace the entire engine. Ridiculous, right? But this is the approach too many small and medium-sized businesses take towards legal services. They only pay lawyers a lot of money to get them out of trouble; rather than paying them much less to avoid legal problems. This drives up the cost of their legal services, and gives their own attorneys a perverse incentive to let trouble happen so they can reap the rewards of “fixing the problem.” Even when law firms attempt to promote an agenda of preventative maintenance, clients will often reject these proposals as a waste of money or premature ignoring this legal advice. As a result, clients often spend hundreds of thousands of dollars resolving issues that thousands of dollars could have addressed proactively.
Consider the following examples:
Are your prepared for an audit under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act? How would you avoid the potential imposition of hundreds of thousands of dollars of fines, interest and penalties associated with ERISA violations?
Are you tax books and records sufficient to meet regulatory standards under federal, state and local laws? Do your records retention policies meet legal standards?
Have you trademarked your companies name and logo? Are competitors already using your company name and logo to compete against you? How many companies are currently infringing on your intellectual property rights?
Which litigation exposures are covered by your general liability insurance coverage? Should you have additional coverage, such as Employment Practices Liability Insurance? Can you select an attorney of your choice to defend your company or are you forced to use panel counsel instead? Is your insurance coverage adequate to cover both legal fees and the settlement amount?
Have you budgeted legal expenditures for the next three (3) fiscal years? Have you estimated the increase in enterprise value that your company will realize as a result of investing in legal service offerings?
Is your corporate structure in its most tax efficient configuration for your target exit strategy? Increasing the value of your organization will likely increase the cost of reconfiguring your organizational structure in the future.
Are employment agreements with work-for-hire provisions used by your company? If not, how do you plan to address the magnitude of risk exposure associated with this failure?
Small and medium-sized companies face the greatest risk when avoidable litigation rears its ugly head. They can put themselves out of business trying to win a lawsuit they could have avoided with proper preventive legal care. Our methodology, derived from extensive education and experience, places a focus on preventative law that invests your resources in profitable growth and value creation. At Spizzirri Law Offices Company Limited, we concentrate our efforts on identifying potential areas of conflict and proactively addressing issues to prevent future conflict that can damage operations, resources, and trade partner relations. If you have a business with annual revenues between $5 million and $50 million, consider the difference we can make to your bottom line. We serve businesses in Georgia, and throughout the country, especially in New York, New Jersey, Texas, California and Florida.
How a Proactive Approach to Outside General Counsel Is Different
Many medium-sized retain counsel when something goes wrong, such as federal investigations, Internal Revenue Service examinations, or complex commercial litigation. By that time, what should have been a speed bump is looking more like Mount McKinley. For example, you can spend $5K in legal expenses to protect your company’s intellectual property, or you can do nothing, then spend $500K litigating an alleged infringement. The first action creates exclusive protection of an intellectual property asset, which immediately creates value that can generate revenue; while the second is an expense whose cost is rarely recovered. The old way of thinking about legal services shifts company’s profits to their law firm. As your general counsel, we’d prefer not to earn our living at your expense. We’d rather have us get rich together.
Essentially, a reactive approach is often signified by the following:
Poor legal records or no legal records;
A lack of organizational structuring foresight;
Poor internal legal controls;
Absence of a legal vision as part of the business plan;
Expensive and frequent litigation;
Increased insurance rates;
Distractions from business mission statement;
Frequent legal crises;
Crescendo of regulatory investigations;
Deteriorating relationships with vendors and customers
Legal issues arising from such a reactive approach often begin with an unorganized mess signified by the following secondary issues:
Substantially increased legal costs often ten to twenty times more expensive than preventative measures;
Inefficient leverage as legal counsel is forced to perform administrative tasks to identify, assemble, organize and analyze books and records to understand the facts before the law can be applied to those facts to provide legal advice;
Urgent legal services where firms are forced to super-staff engagements to acquire a position under severe time constraints at much higher costs;
Much higher likelihood of bankruptcy filing as a procedural mechanism to buy time to complete tasks that should have already been completed by the client in the ordinary course of business under supervision of counsel;
Distracted focus and strategic miscalculations based upon incomplete or incorrect information;
Messy unorganized litigation leading to litigation failures.
Success with legal disputes, litigation, regulatory investigations and other legal issues often turns on the facts to which the law is applied. Companies that fail to plan confront legal issues with factual uncertainties and grave consequences. Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.
That’s why we have developed a General Counsel methodology that integrates legal services fully with your business operations, directing legal spends to areas that increase company value, while reducing legal costs, such as litigation, that reduce value. This approach grows a company’s net book value and share price, and delivers numerous strategic advantages, including a more profitable exit strategy.
Services That Benefit Your Small to Mid-sized Company
For decades, we have served as outside general counsel to businesses on a variety of matters, including:
Legal Budgeting and Financial Control
Business Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
Commercial Law and Contract Management
Enterprise Risk Management Preparation and Execution of Exit Strategies
Transaction Advisory Services
Real and Personal Property
If your legal expenses are out of proportion to your operating budget, it’s time to consider an investment that will put you in control. The successful execution of our methodology has reduced legal costs for hundreds of our legal clients. If contract issues seem to be a persistent problem, we can review your existing agreements to discover areas of risk while you strengthen your relationships with trade partners; rather than tear them apart through litigation. You can also rely on our guidance to manage numerous risks that could potentially drain your resources.