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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Kevin Jackson, Peter Silva

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InnovaCounsel Encourages a Business Check-Up Assessment to Determine 2013 Risk Levels

In-House Legal Services Firm Offers Six Basic Questions to Help Businesses Determine Areas of Vulnerability and Appropriate Level of Risk Going Into the New Year

IRVINE, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/04/13 -- InnovaCounsel LLP, a new-model law firm whose network of in-house attorneys serves as trusted business advisors to companies wishing to accelerate their growth and protect the businesses they're building, has compiled a six-question risk assessment to help companies determine whether they're due for an annual legal check-up. The exercise helps the management team create a clear picture of what's going well, what will require attention in the near future and what requires immediate action.

January presents ideal timing for many companies to examine their needs with InnovaCounsel's Risk Assessment packages, designed to uncover risks and red flags before they progress and become costly legal catastrophes. Below are six basic questions -- derived from InnovaCounsel's extensive Risk Assessment evaluation -- intended to get company leaders thinking about where their organizations might be vulnerable, and also paying closer attention to the hazards of neglecting potential problems.

Question 1: What are the consequences of undetected or unmanaged risk? Generally speaking, the answer is that companies are confronted with unpleasant surprises, such as a letter from a lawyer who represents a former employee alleging improper termination. The damages a company may pay for failing to keep up with legal compliance issues far outweigh the costs of general counsel who could have prevented a costly settlement or lawsuit in the first place. Consider the other risks your company may be facing.

Question 2: What are the implications of trusting risk management to someone with limited legal and business experience? Delegating risk management to an under-qualified employee is dangerous business. The problem is, they don't know what they don't know -- particularly in places like California, where countless laws and regulations can become landmines for employers.

Question 3: How much of your time is spent reviewing contracts, and is there a process that ensures the company complies with the contracts it signs? Simple misunderstandings present some of the biggest risks for companies that forego legal review of contracts. Seasoned lawyers know what should and shouldn't be included in an agreement and can help balance company risks.

Question 4: Are you asking your attorneys the right questions? An experienced general counsel can save the company money on outside legal fees while adding strategic value and business judgment. The CEO or CFO should understand the risks of ignoring an attorney's advice versus following it. In litigation for example, a company should fully understand the best case, worst case and most likely costs for the matter at hand, including expert fees, depositions and the like. Ask what type of reporting the firm provides. Find out whether any attorneys in the firm have experience counseling business on multiple disciplines or if all the lawyers are single-discipline experts who must consult with one another at the company's expense.

Question 5: If you could have unlimited phone conversations with a business attorney, what would you discuss? Good questions to ask are those designed to get the lawyer thinking specifically about how the law applies to your industry and what's going on in your business that makes it more or less risky than average. Excess risks can be moderated with smart policies; low-risk businesses can allocate resources to those functions that will lead to the highest return for the business.

Question 6: When was the last time you performed an internal legal audit? Companies should always be paying attention to the legal and business risks they face, including such mundane-seeming tasks as reviewing the employee handbook for current legal compliance. Part-time general counsel who are regularly exposed to the company's policies can engage in ongoing conversations that result in proactive guidance that can protect the company.

For more information on determining risk and utilizing cost-effective general-counsel services, visit www.innovacounsel.com.

ABOUT INNOVACOUNSEL: Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., InnovaCounsel is turning the traditional law firm on its head with an innovative new way of practicing law that brings talented general counsel in reach for fast-growth and mid-sized companies. InnovaCounsel's unique business model makes it financially possible for companies to enjoy all the advantages of talented and experienced in-house counsel as part of the management team for an affordable flat monthly fee. The firm's in-house general counsel services offer industry-proven, executive-level general-counsel attorneys on a full- or part-time basis for a fixed monthly retainer that's well below the cost of a traditional hourly-rate law firm -- and with none of the overhead of adding a new department. Initially launched as The General Counsel, the firm changed its name to InnovaCounsel in 2012 to better reflect its spirit of innovation. For more information, visit www.innovacounsel.com.

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