5 Important things in a startup lawyer

By Shantanu Mohan

March 24, 2016

Early-stage startups have different needs than more mature companies. Finding an attorney who understands these differences will help protect your business from its inception. Here are five things to look for in a startup lawyer:

1. Fit

Does the attorney relate to you? Do you feel like he or she has an interest in you and your business? Don’t expect to find an attorney from your first Google search. Ask other entrepreneurs in the community for referrals to someone with expertise in your field.

It’s important that your attorney be willing to learn about your business, able to communicate with you in terms you understand, and someone you are comfortable with. Good rapport with your attorney typically means better results for your business.

2. Find a Partner not a lawyer

How to handle essential paperwork and basic startup needs?

Good startup attorneys know how to relate to entrepreneurs. Does your lawyer know what it takes to turn an idea into a business. Don’t look for an attorney who only solves problems after they happen. Look for one who will help map out a course of action from the beginning so that you have clear guidelines for where your company is going, what will be needed in the future, and what to look out for along the way.

3. An inexperienced lawyer is not the answer

Find someone who understands the problems that your startup faces. An experienced attorney will bring efficiency that will likely help you save money. If you hire an attorney without experience in your area, you will be doing yourself a disservice. Not only will an experienced attorney be able to warn you in advance about problems that you may not foresee, he or she will also know what you’ll need to do now to prevent potential pitfalls down the line.

4. Business orientation is about acumen

Most attorneys look at potential risk and remove any traces without taking into account their client’s position. An attorney used to working with entrepreneurs will spot the issue and explain the risks so that you can make an informed business decision. 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. Take your time and start soon

Many businesses hire an attorney when it’s too late: when there is a dispute between the founders or after an issue arises with development. Many startups 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.

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