Aujourd’hui, je propose aux administrateurs de sociétés une lecture très utile pour mieux appréhender les défis reliés à l’utilisation de services juridiques dans le cas d’entreprises de petite capitalisation.
Cet article, publié par Adam J. Epstein* dans NACD Directorship, présente clairement les options qui s’offrent aux administrateurs de ces entreprises lorsque vient le temps de décider d’une stratégie gagnante pour l’achat de services juridiques.
Les conseils de l’auteur sont notamment très précieux pour aider l’entreprise à embaucher le bon type de firme et pour décider de la forme que prendra le paiement des honoraires.
Je vous invite donc à lire ce court article; en voici un court extrait. Bonne lecture !
Because so many small-cap companies— particularly those with market capitalizations below $500 million—operate without in-house counsel, and because many officers and directors lack legal backgrounds, there is a constant risk of either hiring the wrong attorneys or paying too much for legal services. And since few small-cap companies can afford either, directors should consider the following insights into common circumstances involving legal services.
Current Environment The law firm business model is in the midst of a historic transformation. After decades of hypergrowth and profitability, the law industry post-financial crisis is in many cases a shadow of its former self. Put differently, when it comes to purchasing legal services, it’s become a buyer’s market.
For small-cap companies already saddled with comparatively crippling costs of “being public,” the evolution of the marketplace for legal services is unreservedly positive. But even in the face of a buyer’s market, many small-cap companies aren’t benefitting as much as they should.
For example, one of the most dramatic changes to the law firm model is an inexorable shift away from hourly billing to flat fees. According to The Wall Street Journal, the frequency of use of flat fee structures has nearly doubled at large law firms in the last several years. At a high level, this is beneficial to purchasers of legal services, because hourly fee billing can be susceptible to conflicts of interest (i.e., lawyers might be tempted to take more time to complete tasks because they are getting paid by the hour). But just because a company is paying a flat fee for a particular service doesn’t necessarily mean the company is getting a better deal. Especially when it comes to clients with less legal acumen, law firms still do their best to construct flat fees that aren’t demonstrably different than historic hourly fees when all is said and done. Accordingly, management needs to confirm that any flat fees agreed upon are, in fact, more advantageous to the company and its shareholders.
Notwithstanding the positive developments in the legal services marketplace for small-cap companies, there are three circumstances in particular that are always deserving of added director scrutiny.
*Adam J. Epstein is lead director of OCZ Technology Group, an NACD Board Leadership Fellow, and advises smallcap boards through his firm, Third Creek Advisors. This article is excerpted, in part, from his book, The Perfect Corporate Board: A Handbook for Mastering the Unique Challenges of Small-Cap Companies (McGraw-Hill, 2012).