The Question:

"When (in terms of rough headcount) did you hire your first in-house counsel?"

Key Tips from Guild Members

Enterprise SaaS: At my previous two companies, we hired our first GC once we hit ~100 people. Both were enterprise SaaS companies, so friction in the sales process and high cost of outside counsel is what did it for us.  

eCommerce: This is a hot topic for us currently, we are actively searching for one right now as I've been drowning in legal/compliance work and am doing it about 10% as well as it needs to be done at our revenue scale. Currently, we're around 75 corporate employees. Wouldn't hire a GC-level yet but we're looking for an experienced corporate attorney, will probably be a senior manager level for us. Consumer privacy (GDPR/CCPA), website accessibility requirements, and dramatic increase in both quantity and complexity of SaaS contracts we are signing are all precipitating factors. Savings on outside legal fees are assumed to be material, but not huge, as this person will be a generalist and will still need counsel from specialists. Hoping that they will be managing the whole legal and compliance function better and have us looking ahead instead of behind.

Healthcare: We just hired our first GC. Here are stats and rationale:

  • ~130 employees, but have grown that from 100 just 5 months ago.
  • We doubled in revenue last year, and plan to double or triple this year.
  • Just completed our Series D and anticipating a much larger round next year
  • Moving up-market in target customer size and contracting has become more red-lines and managing the outside counsel becoming a full time job of non legal people within our company. Adds risk with non-lawyers quarterbacking.
  • We operate in a heavily regulated industry (healthcare).

Enterprise SaaS: For us, it was 200-250 people. We needed:

  • Someone to build an integrated process on the sales and vendor side, not just a capacity to review contracts
  • Understanding of the current feature set and roadmap to develop forward-looking vision for our privacy and IP strategies
  • A business partner to the execs to brainstorm how legal can shape their strategies as opposed to being reactive to questions after they arise, effectively needed someone to think through issues much closer to the ideation, not downstream as an outside resource would