A “contract general counsel” is neither fish nor fowl. They are neither employees of the company – because there may not be enough legal work to keep someone busy or no one can competently handle the expansive variety of legal issues – nor are they in private practice and retained for individual matters. Instead, according to an article by Vida Harband of Advanced General Counsel, on the website of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, you have a third option: an experienced contract general counsel who commits to work a set number of days a month on your premises.
According to Harband, a contract general counsel keeps overhead down, and may have lower cost structure than a law firm partner, yet provides more objective advice than an employee can give. The CGC can also choose and manage outside counsel. For companies not quite ready for a first in-house lawyer, this intermediate step meets a need.