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What Is a Fractional General Counsel?

Law Office of Craig Ching, PC Feb. 28, 2022

A Fractional General Counsel - the Latest Trend

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “fractional” when it comes to CFOs and CMOs, but what about General Counsel?

A fractional executive in any discipline is one who works on the executive staff for a “fraction” of the time. The professional dedicates a set number of hours or days per week to act as if they are indeed on the payroll. In essence, it is a consulting position that is intended to augment the C-level office of the legal department.

In terms of a Fractional General Counsel - think of the similar, more well-known title "Outside Counsel".

Why Hire a Fractional General Counsel?

The most obvious time to hire a fractional general counsel is when a company is expanding, but not yet ready to hire an in-house general counsel. This opportunity is terrific for start-ups who are past the stage of hiring outside counsel for projects or other legal matters yet want the benefits of having a business attorney on the team.

Another time when it may be appropriate to hire a fractional general counsel, is when there has been turnover in the legal department or a major shift in executive roles. Perhaps a new CEO is brought on and the prior counsel has been terminated. Hiring a fractional team member can give the CEO time to come on board and get immersed in the company. In this case, the fractional concept serves as a bridge to when the CEO is ready to make more lasting decisions regarding the executive team.

While many fractional executives enjoy long term and often full time relationships with the company for which they consult, the nature of the flexibility of the concept serves many attorneys, as well as, start-up and transitional companies.