You own a young company that is seeking VC, angel or perhaps even seed funding. You want to protect yourself with the right legal documents, ensure that you are taking the right steps and perhaps gain some legal counsel along the way. You turn to your network circles for a recommendation on a good lawyer. Before you know it, you are inundated with firms and you don’t know where to begin or which to choose. Start with these basic criteria to begin eliminating those that aren’t right for you: startup focused, firm size and local.
For the most part, you’ll want to avoid working the large, national law firms. The one caveat is if they have internal practices that focus on startups. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself competing for attention with the larger clients that the firm represents. On the flip side of the scale, make sure you do your homework with any local or smaller firm to ensure that they really have the startup expertise that you need.
As in nearly every field of service providers, you’ll want to identify a specialist. You wouldn’t hire a commercial real estate agent to find your next home. You wouldn’t hire an action sports sales rep to push your medical device. You wouldn’t hire a back-end software engineer to develop your user friendly website. Similarly, don’t hire a lawyer that doesn’t specialize in startups. Keep in mind, the entire firm doesn’t have to be startup focused, just make sure your lawyer is. Furthermore, many lawyers that work with startups are open to working on a deferred payment schedule.
Whether you are working with a local law firm or the local branch of a national firm, be sure to go with a local lawyer. A local lawyer, especially one that is startup focused, can help tap you into their key networks where you may find potential funding sources, strategic partnerships or mentorship relationships.
In conclusion, do your homework and stick with local, startup focused lawyers that aren’t looking for bigger fish to fry and will give you the time of day that your company deserves.