Founders have different processes for choosing a lawyer for their startup. Some call around to the firms who show up on a Google search, others seek referrals from business accelerators or other founders. Some cautiously interview a number of firms, while others hop between firms until they find one that fits.
While there’s nothing wrong with asking Google for help (we actually googled ‘how to start a law firm’ before we opened our doors), the legal advice you receive can and will shape your startup. It will impact everything from your corporate structure to your financing options to your corporate culture. We hope that in sharing this blog post with advice about how to choose the right lawyer for your startup, you find the hunt for your perfect firm a little less daunting and a lot more fruitful.
Tip 1 to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Startup: Find Attorneys With Experience in Your Industry
Industry experience is key when you seek legal advice. You want to deal with lawyers who know about the landscape your startup is operating in, and the challenges you’ll face – as well as any unique legal compliance issues within your industry.
Experience working with startups is key too. Growing startups face significant legal compliance issues with a limited legal budget. Firms that are experienced working with startups can provide educated guidance about how to best allocate financial resources. We routinely advise startups about what they need to do today, what can wait, which documents they can rely on templates for, and which documents they absolutely shouldn’t rely on templates for.
Tip 2: Ask How Much the Startup Attorneys Cost
When you have a limited budget, your relationship with your attorney is crucial. If you ask one firm to draft your initial corporate documents (bylaws and the like), before hopping to another firm for your employment documents, you’ll never receive holistic, tailored legal services. This can increase your chance of key compliance issues being overlooked, since no firm has a complete view of your current risk. It also increases the likelihood of future ‘clean-up’ costs because, again, your attorneys are providing advice and creating documents in a vacuum.
Cost is going to play a role in which firm you choose, but we recommend considering cost alongside your ability to partner and grow with the law firm.
Tip 3: Enquire About The Law Firm Values and Culture
While this is difficult to assess from the outside, it is important that you find a law firm where the values and culture align (at least somewhat) with your startup.
At CGL, we don’t proclaim to be the law firm for every startup. Our attorneys work from wherever they choose during their most productive hours, and we strongly encourage work-life balance. This means our attorneys aren’t always available around the clock, which works for most startups – but not for all. Knowing how the law firm and lawyers you choose operate can help you determine whether it’s a good fit for your startup. It’s something that’s worth asking about when you ‘interview’ potential firms.
Tip 4 to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Startup: Case Management Considerations
You should know and understand how your law firm manages legal matters before engaging them. You might want to ask:
- Who is going to be your point of contact?
- How do you get in touch with them?
- What happens if new legal issue arises that needs specialist attention?
Each firm will answer these questions differently. It’s worthwhile asking your potential attorneys these questions before settling on a law firm.
Curious about whether CGL is the right fit for your startup? Get in touch. We’d be glad to meet with you to see what we can offer you and explain how we work. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact form below.
CGL Founders, Hannah Genton (left) and Noam Cohen (right)
The materials available at this website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this website or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between CGL and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.