What to Look For in a Startup Lawyer

by Tricia Meyer on May 2, 2014

What should I look for in a startup lawyer?Q: “What should I look for in a startup lawyer?”

An early stage startup company has different needs than most businesses, so it’s important to find an attorney that understands this in order to help protect the business from the inception.  The following are five things to look for in a startup lawyer:

1. Fit

Does the attorney relate to you?  Do you feel like they have an interest in you and your business?  Don’t expect to find an attorney from your first Google search.  Ask around for a referral to find someone with expertise in your field from like-minded individuals in the community.  It’s important that your startup attorney be willing to learn about your business, is able to communicate to you in terms you understand and is someone you are comfortable with.  Good rapport with your attorney typically means better results for your business.

2. Strategic Partner

Most attorneys know how to handle essential paperwork and basic startup needs; however, a good startup attorney knows how to relate to entrepreneurs. They know what it takes to have an idea and turn it into a business. Don’t look for the attorney who only solves problems after they happen.  Rather, look for the attorney that will help map out a course of action from the beginning so that you have clear guidelines of where your company is going, what will be needed in the future and what to look out for along the way.

3. Experience

Find someone who understands the problems that your startup faces.  An experienced attorney will bring efficiencies that will likely help you save money.  If you hire an attorney without experience in your area, you will be doing yourself a disservice.  Someone with experience will be able to inform you of problems that you may not foresee.  An experienced attorney knows what you’ll need in advance in order to prevent potential pitfalls down the line.

4. Business Orientation

Most attorneys look at potential risk and remove any traces without taking into account their client’s position.  An entrepreneurial-minded attorney will spot the issue and explain the risks so that you can make an informed business decision.  Your attorney should not be stepping in to ‘kill the deal,’ and a good startup attorney knows what protections you need while understanding that you need to take on some level of risk in order to propel your business forward.

5. Look Early

Many businesses hire an attorney when it’s too late.  They wait until there is a dispute between the founders or after an issue arises with development.  Many start-ups avoid seeking counsel up front due to costs, and find themselves in trouble after-the-fact.  There are so many situations that can be avoided and money saved if you seek counsel early.

Find an attorney that understands the growth cycle of a startup, which will help you identify and implement best practices and procedures to protect your business and minimize your liabilities.

DISCLAIMER The content in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Readers should contact a qualified attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.

About the Author

Tricia Meyer is managing attorney of Meyer Law, a forward-thinking boutique law firm providing top-notch legal services to clients ranging from startups to mid-sized companies to large corporations in a variety of industries including technology, telecom, financial services, real estate, advertising, marketing, social media and healthcare.  Learn more at MeetMeyerLaw.com and follow us on Twitter @Tricia_Meyer or @Meyer_Law.


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