Concentration in Pre-Law

A Startup Attorney’s Advice on What Founders really need from Law firms Pre-Launch

For many founders it is not clear what is and isn’t needed from lawyers early on in a startup.

As a startup founder, there are so many things other than the product development that you will need to think about. Since you are creating a company you will pay attention to marketing efforts, hiring practices, sales projections, and managing contracts. On the later issue of contracts, many first time entrepreneurs ask me about what legal services he/she should pay for pre-launch of their product. They ask whether they should have attorneys produce NDAs and legal contracts for advisors or early employees. I’ve learned as an advisor that NDAs are virtually pointless when interacting with potential investors or strategic partnerships. To be successful in creating a high growth startup it’s important to remember Steve Jobs quote “To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.”

I suggest founders to focus mainly on building their products and customer discovery. However, many times they have already consulted a law firm and have been shared the dangers of not being legally prepared from the beginning. And with depictions like “Silicon Valley” showing the (unlikely) legal battles a startup could face many founders expect the worst and decide to spend much-needed resources to “lawyer up.” Given I received this question so much I decided to ask my friend, startup Lawyer and fellow Little Rock, Justin Mercer to write a guest blog post about what services a startup actually need from lawyers pre-launch. Instead, he did a mini (unnumbered) tweet storm last week discussing the issue.

Note: The following is the text from Justin’s tweets:

(1/5) ‘Silicon Valley’ paints a hilarious picture: startups often have delusions about what they need from an attorney in the beginning.

(2/5) Beyond advice from another person, it’s really only general liability insulation and web stuff as it pertains to your business that matters.

(3/5) Corp formation, Privacy policies, TOU agreements, and TM clearances.

(4/5) like beyond banging through a Term sheet from a VC, that’s really about all that startups need pre-day 1.

(5/5) However, After day 1. All bets are off.

To contact Justin Mercer feel free to follow him on Twitter @jhmercer.

Earnest Sweat is an Entrepreneurial Engineer for Camelback Ventures and an Investor in Residence for Backstage Capital. If you have any questions or requests please connect with Earnest through LinkedIn, Twitter, or AngelList.

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