We’ve all heard of the mysterious third cofounder cut-out of Snapchat, or the disputes between Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins. Once just simple startups, these companies have grown into multi-billion dollar businesses. It is important for you to hire an experienced startup lawyer to set up your legal roots, preventing any nasty surprises down the line.

Startup lawyers are usually experienced in an array of areas, from corporate formation, to intellectual property and funding. This is to ensure that they cover all the legal requirements necessary to start your business. LawPath offers a network of startup lawyers that are well-versed in these tasks and can offer expert guidance throughout your business ventures.

Here are 5 questions to ask when hiring a startup lawyer:

1. Have you worked with early-stage startups before?

The needs of early-stage startup can be quite different from mature startups. If the lawyer has not had experience in starting a business from scratch, they may not be able to grasp the small but important details of what goes into building a stable legal infrastructure. Whereas later-stage companies have focus towards securities or funding, early stage businesses deal with skeleton matters such as shareholding structure, provision of constitutions and trust establishment.

Try to find a lawyer that has had experience in the whole process, from inception to launch.

2. Do you have experience with startups in my industry?

Many lawyers are excellent at preparing documents and contracts, however if they have not had any exposure to your industry, they will simply not know what to look out for. Startup lawyers are special in that they not only undertake legal tasks, but they also provide expert advice in different areas of your business. For instance, if your company manufactures hand-crafted curtains, you will need to find a startup lawyer who understands e-commerce, international textile importation, labour laws, etc.

3. Can you provide a ‘full service’?

‘Full service’ means that the lawyer or their firm is experienced in all the areas of practice which your startup may require. Initially, you may be engaging with a corporate lawyer. However, disputes will most likely happen, no matter how close you are to your cofounder or employees. In the worse case scenario, this could lead to litigation. As a starting business, resources are scarce and you wouldn’t want to waste your time filling in a brand new lawyer on your situation. A much more preferable alternative would be if your lawyer was also skilled at litigation, or if their firm had another lawyer that could help.

Some things a startup lawyer could have expertise in include:

  • Funding requirements: Angel investors, IPOs, backdoor listings, negotiation of shareholder agreements;
  • Employment arrangements: Contracts, regulatory advice, staff incentive programs;
  • Intellectual property: IP protection, licensing, IP litigation;
  • Brand Development: Trademarks, copyright, domain names;
  • Dispute resolution requirements: redundancy, retrenchment, outsourcing/insourcing.

4. What are the legal costs?

As mentioned above, a startup company may not have spare funding or resources to waste. The last thing a business owner wants to do is to spend thousands of dollars on legal fees. It can be especially hard to justify legal expenses when that money could be going into tech and product development. This is especially true for the method of per-hour billing. It is often unclear just how long a case may take to be finalised, so gaining any final price estimations may be unrealistic.

On the other hand, on a fixed-price fee, lawyers can provide an exact amount covering the whole job. This allows for greater transparency in costs, allowing businesses to choose the most suitable lawyer for their needs.

LawPath sources fixed-price quotes from our expansive network so you can hire a startup lawyer that fits your needs.

5. How will we maintain contact?

One major complaint that clients often have is the level of unresponsiveness of some lawyers. This can be a high source of frustration to clients who require legal advice immediately. Startup lawyers should be readily available to assist along the whole process, and you should definitely never feel alone or helpless if issues arise sporadically. To facilitate a more efficient relationship, it is important to establish a set means of contact that both sides agree on from the get-go.

Conclusion

Starting up a business can feel like diving off the deep end, and you should gather any assistance possible. Therefore, hiring the right startup lawyer can determine the success and longevity of your company. Hire a suitable startup lawyer with LawPath’s lawyer directory to ensure you have the support you need to start your business.

Hiring a startup lawyer? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our lawyer marketplace of 750+ lawyers or for any other legal needs.

Diana Liu

Diana is a Legal Intern at LawPath working with the content team. With an interest in torts law and commercial law, she is currently completing a Bachelor of Laws as well as a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).