Does Your Company Need a Legal Team (In-House Counsel)?

Last updated on April 12, 2021

legal team of 2 men and a woman

If you are considering engaging a legal team for your company, this article provides a comprehensive overview of:

What is a Legal Team? 

A legal team is a permanent entity in your company that provides legal services to the business. It consists of a group of lawyers who may be specialising in different fields, such as employment and commercial, and may also include paralegals.

The primary role of the legal team is to act in the best interests of the company as a whole, as opposed to that of individual directors or shareholders.

The legal team will work hand-in-hand with the other divisions in your company to optimise operations. These other divisions can include the human resource department (e.g. dealing with employment matters) and senior management of the company (e.g. advising them on the legal aspects of corporate deals).

Duties and Responsibilities of a Legal Team 

The areas in which a legal team can provide help can include:

  • Helping the company to understand the impact of any legislative or regulatory changes on its business model or operations
  • Ensuring that the company’s operations comply with the relevant regulatory frameworks and laws
  • Mitigating any legal risks associated with the business
  • Providing support in corporate transactions, such as drafting and editing contracts
  • Assisting the company in any litigation involving the company
  • Liaising with and supervising any external counsel

For example, if there is a litigation suit against the business, the legal team will likely be involved in all stages of the litigation process. This will include gathering all the necessary evidence to defend the company against the suit, drafting requisite court documents, liaising with external counsel (if any) and preparing for trial.

For a company with a recognised brand, legal work may include enforcing any intellectual property owned by the company (e.g. trademarks, patents) against any infringers and advising the company on how to best approach potential claims.

Why You May Need a Legal Team 

Pros of hiring a legal team

There are many benefits of having an in-house legal team:

  1. Comprehensive advice – As part of the company, the legal team is the most familiar with the nuances of your business operations. Thus, it is able to provide comprehensive legal advice which is attuned to the specific legal and business considerations of the company, rather than advice that is limited to the particular transaction or project.
  2. Proactive advice – The legal team will be able to proactively identify any legal issues with any matter proposed or implemented by the company. This will assist the company in seeking out any legal issues early, which will avoid any future, and possibly unnecessary, escalation of issues. This will be time- and cost-efficient for the company.
  3. Similar objectives – The legal team operates as a strategic part of the business. Thus, its objectives are aligned with that of the business, and it is in its best interests to enable the company to effectively execute its plans.
  4. Facilitating interactions – Your company may need to engage external counsel for advice in certain specialised matters. In such situations, the legal team can facilitate seamless interactions between the company and any external counsel, because of its unique position stemming from its understanding of the company’s business objectives and its possession of legal knowledge.

Limitations of hiring a legal team 

Nonetheless, there are also limitations where an in-house legal team is concerned.

  1. May have less specialised expertise – Although a legal team likely has sufficient general legal expertise to handle most matters that arise within a company, it may not have sufficient specialised legal expertise in certain areas. This is because most lawyers transition from a specialist to a generalist when working as an in-house counsel to take up different matters of the company. As a result, their specialist skills may have deteriorated overtime. Thus, areas that require highly specialised knowledge may necessitate the engagement of external counsel.
  2. May be costly – A legal team is a permanent fixture in your company, which is expensive to maintain. Thus, whether having a legal team is cost-effective will depend on the amount of legal work that your company requires to be done. If the amount of legal work is not substantial, it will likely be more cost-effective to hire external counsel when necessary. On the other hand, if there is substantial legal work to be completed over the course of the business, you may wish to consider engaging a legal team as part of your company.

Alternatives to Hiring a Legal Team

As mentioned earlier, an alternative to having an in-house legal team is engaging external counsel when necessary (for example, for a specific transaction). This may be more cost-effective if the amount of legal work required for your business is not significant.

Another option is hiring a single in-house lawyer, as opposed to having an entire legal team. While this may be cost and space effective, you may also wish to consider whether the legal expertise of that individual is sufficient to meet the needs of your company.

Other Considerations to Make When Hiring a In-House Legal Team 

Of course, there are other considerations you should take into account in determining whether your company should hire a legal team.

First, the size of your company. If your company is small in terms of size or revenue, it may be more cost and space effective to engage external counsel when needed, or have a single in-house lawyer.

Second, the amount of legal work within the business. If there is little legal work required for the business, then it may not justify having an in-house legal team. Rather, the company should rely on external counsel.

Third, the type of legal expertise required. Depending on the nature of your business, the legal expertise that you may require in your legal team will vary. This may include expertise in:

In this case, you may wish to engage a legal team made up of individuals trained in each of those areas of law. For example, your team could consist of lawyer A who specialises in competition law and lawyer B who specialises in tax law and so on.

However, if your business does not require legal expertise that spans over the course of your business, such as a one-time legal matter or situation requiring legal advice, it may not be cost-efficient to hire a whole legal team (as mentioned above).. Instead, it may be cheaper to engage an external counsel.

Making the decision of whether to hire a legal team is definitely not an easy task, as it requires a careful consideration of the needs of your business.

Should you choose not to hire an in-house team, you may wish to consider engaging one of our corporate lawyers to act as your external counsel. They will be able to provide legal expertise as and when they are engaged, for example, on a particular transaction or series of transactions.

Appointment and Removal of Company Officers and Other Key Personnel
  1. What is a Nominee Director & How to Appoint One in Singapore (With FAQs)
  2. Independent Directors: Who are They and What is Their Role?
  3. Board of Advisors: Who Are They and What Is Their Role?
  4. Appointing Company Directors in Singapore: Eligibility, Process etc.
  5. Managing Director vs CEO in Singapore: Roles and Obligations
  6. Guide to Directors' Remuneration in Singapore
  7. Directors' Duties in Singapore
  8. Shadow Directors: Who are They and What Duties Do They Owe to the Company?
  9. How to Remove a Director from a Company in Singapore
  10. Removal and Resignation of Company Auditor in Singapore
  11. Appointing a Company Secretary: Roles and Responsibilities
  12. Appointing an Authorised Representative for Foreign Companies in Singapore
  13. Process Agents in Singapore
Holding Meetings
  1. What are Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in Singapore?
  2. How to Hold Extraordinary General Meetings (EGMs) in Singapore
  3. How to Hold a Board Meeting in Singapore
Shareholder Matters
  1. Share Buybacks in Singapore: Procedure, Cost and More
  2. How to Split Shares (or Stocks) in a Singapore Company
  3. 2 Ways to Remove a Singapore Company Shareholder ASAP
  4. What are Treasury Shares? Guide for Singapore Companies
  5. A Guide to Paid-Up Capital in Singapore
  6. Preparing a Register of Shareholders for a Singapore Company
  7. How to Issue Shares in a Singapore Private Company
  8. Guide to Transferring Shares in a Singapore Private Company
  9. Your Guide to Share Certificates in Singapore: Usage and How to Prepare
  10. Shareholder Rights in Singapore Private Companies
  11. Shareholder Roles and Obligations in Singapore Companies
  12. Dividend Payments Guide for Singapore Business Owners
  13. Share Transmission: What Happens If a Shareholder Dies in Singapore?
  14. How to Reduce the Share Capital of Your Singapore Company
  15. Buy-Sell Agreements: How to Write & Fund Them in Singapore
  16. Oppression of Minority Shareholders
  1. Is Your Business Collaboration Competition Law-Compliant?
  2. Explained: Registered Filing Agent for Singapore Businesses
  3. Transfer Pricing Obligations of Singapore Companies
  4. Adhering to Trading Sanctions and Restrictions in Singapore
  5. Cyber Hygiene Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
  6. Corporate Social Responsibility For Businesses in Singapore
  7. A Guide to Food Standards in Singapore
  8. Essential Regulatory Compliance Guide for Singapore Companies
  9. Dormant Companies and Their Filing Obligations in Singapore
  10. Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and Your Business: What You Need to Know
  11. Price-Fixing, Bid-Rigging and Other Anti-Competitive Practices to Avoid
  12. Can Singapore Businesses Legally Conduct Lucky Draws?
  13. Restaurant Inspection and Food Safety Rules in Singapore
Company Management
  1. Does Your Company Need a Legal Team (In-House Counsel)?
  2. Acqui-Hiring of Singapore Companies: How Does It Work?
  3. Can a Company Director Take Legal Action Against Another Director?
  4. How to Change the Name of Your Singapore Company
  5. Can Directors be Liable for Company Debts in Singapore?
  6. Company Loans to Directors/Shareholders in Singapore
  7. 3 Types of Insurance Every Singapore Business Needs
  8. Creating and Registering Charges in Singapore: Guide for Companies
  9. Guide to Effective Business Continuity Planning in Singapore
  10. Business Asset Sale & Disposal in Singapore: How Do They Work?
  11. 5 Ways To Resolve Business Partnership Disputes in Singapore
  12. How to Commence a Derivative Action on Behalf of a Company in Singapore
  13. Business Will: How to Pass on Your Business to Your Successors in Singapore
Company Documents
  1. Record-Keeping Requirements for Singapore Companies
  2. Company Constitutions in Singapore and How to Draft One
  3. Company Memorandum and Articles of Association
  4. Company Resolutions: What are They?
  5. Board Resolutions in Singapore
  6. Minutes of Company Meeting in Singapore: How to Record
  7. How to Set Up a Register of Controllers
  8. How to Set Up a Register of Nominee Directors
  9. Guide to Filing Financial Statements for Singapore Business Owners
  10. Filing Annual Returns For Your Business
Tax, Accounting and Audit Matters
  1. Carbon Tax in Singapore: What is the Rate and Who Must Pay?
  2. Laws and Penalties for GST Evasion in Singapore
  3. 6 Common Taxes in Singapore For Individuals & Businesses
  4. Singapore Corporate Tax: How to Pay, Tax Rate, Exemptions
  5. Start-Up Tax Exemption Guide for New Singapore Companies
  6. GST Registration: Requirements and Procedure in Singapore
  7. What is Withholding Tax and When to Pay It in Singapore
  8. Singapore Influencers: Here's How to Calculate Your Income Tax
  9. Investigating Tax-Evading Business Owners in Singapore
  10. Small Business Accounting Services in Singapore
  11. Company Audits in Singapore: Requirements and Exemptions
Data Protection
  1. Suspect a PDPA Data Breach? Here's What to Do Next
  2. Must You Notify PDPC About a Data Breach in Your Business?
  3. Data Room: Should Your Singapore Company Set Up One?
  4. Victim of a Data Breach? Here’s What You Can Do
  5. Summary: Your Organisation's 10 Main PDPA Obligations
  6. Essential PDPA Compliance Guide for Singapore Businesses
  7. PDPA Consent Requirements: How Can Your Business Comply?
  8. Is It Legal for Businesses to Ask for Your NRIC in Singapore?
  9. How To Prevent Unauthorised Disclosure When Processing and Sending Personal Data
  10. Cloud Storage of Personal Data: Your Business’ Data Protection Obligations
  11. Drafting a Comprehensive Privacy Policy For Your Singapore Website
  12. GDPR Compliance in Singapore: Is it Required and How to Comply
  13. Appointing a Data Protection Officer For Your Business: All You Need to Know
  14. How Can Companies Dispose of Documents Containing Personal Data?
  15. Check the Do-Not-Call Registry Before Marketing to Singapore Phone Numbers
  16. How to Legally Install CCTVs for Home/Business Use in Singapore
  17. Is Web Scraping or Crawling Legal in Singapore?
  18. Legal Options If Employees Breach Confidentiality in Singapore
  1. Social Media Marketing: Legal Guide for Singapore Businesses
  2. Your Guide to E-commerce Website Terms of Service in Singapore
  3. Dealing with Defamation of Your Business: Can You Sue?
  4. Sending Email Newsletters That Comply With Singapore Law
  5. A legal guide to drafting a social media policy for your company
  6. Your Guide to a Media Release Form in Singapore
  7. Your Guide to an Influencer Marketing Agreement in Singapore
  8. Outdoor Advertising: How to Legally Display Public Ads in Singapore
Fintech and Payment Services Advisory
  1. A Guide to Digital Bank Regulation in Singapore
  2. Applying for a Major Payment Institution Licence in Singapore
  3. Applying to the MAS FinTech Regulatory Sandbox
  4. Payment Services Act Licensing Guide for Fintech Businesses
  5. How to Get a Payment Service Provider Licence in Singapore
  6. Financial Adviser's Licence Guide for Singapore Businesses
  7. Capital Markets (CMS) Licence Requirements in Singapore
  8. How to Offer E-Wallet Services in Singapore: Licensing Guide
  9. Digital Payment Token Services Licence Guide in Singapore
  10. How to Legally Offer Crypto Services in Singapore
  1. Starting a Franchise in Singapore: What Franchisors Should Look Out For
  2. Running a Franchise in Singapore: What To Look Out for as a Franchisee
Debt Restructuring
  1. What is Judicial Management and How It Works in Singapore
  2. Schemes of Arrangement: How They Work and How to Apply
  3. Informal Debt Restructuring and Workout in Singapore
Ending a Business
  1. How to Restore a Struck-Off Company in Singapore
  2. Claw-Back of Assets From Unfair Preference and Undervalued Transactions
  3. Should You Save or Close Your Zombie Company in Singapore?
  4. Voluntary Suspension of Business in Singapore: How to Handle
  5. Winding Up a Singapore Company: Grounds and Procedure
  6. Closing Your Singapore Business: What You Need to Settle
  7. Striking Off a Company
  8. Restoring a Company That was Struck Off Without You Knowing
  9. Dissolution of partnerships in Singapore
  10. What Should a Creditor Do When a Company Becomes Insolvent?
  11. How to File a Proof of Debt Against a Company in Liquidation
  12. Validation of Payments Made by Companies Being Wound Up