For startup owners, hiring and working with a lawyer is often confusing and almost a herculean task. This can be because they have little knowledge about the legal space and practice, and so do not know what to look out for in a lawyer.
This article will show you things to consider before hiring a lawyer and also what needs to be in place before you do.
- Get referrals. Referrals from legal contacts in your network and fellow startup owners, especially in your industry, is a good place to start, rather than Google searches.
- Competence and Expertise. Choose a lawyer that has a lot of experience in startup matters and is conversant with your legal needs. Picture this: if you need to raise capital from investors and the lawyers that you know are those that have expertise in criminal law, they may not be in the best position to draft or review documents relating to raising capital like term sheets and capitalization tables.
- Know why you need a lawyer and at what points you’ll need one. Whether you’re hiring a lawyer to be part of your team or engaging the services of a law firm, you need to know why and when to hire a lawyer. Especially as an entrepreneur running on a tight budget, you may have to choose what legal issues to tackle per time, determined by priority level. The most likely times startups would need lawyers include:
- Hiring employees;
- Negotiating contracts with customers and suppliers, including establishing terms of service for websites and license agreements for software applications.
- Raising capital;
- Registering intellectual property (copyright, trademarks and patents);
- Drafting legal documents;
- Incorporation and forming a business entity.
(For the last three points, you can simply visit the diylaw.ng to see the legal documents services, intellectual property registrations we offer, as well as how to incorporate your business easily.)
- Pay attention to any red flags you might see in the potential lawyer you’re hiring. One, a lawyer who doesn’t seem to speak the language of your business. If someone doesn’t understand the world in which you are operating, it’s harder for him to adequately represent you. Next, a lawyer who seems to be learning how to do the job, on your money. If you feel like your lawyer is doing something completely new to him, it’s unlikely he will be able to do it well or cost-effectively.
- Startups should also think about their approach to risk and find someone with a similar worldview.
As what typifies startups are the fast-paced work environment, innovation and use of technology and collaboration tools, you should choose a lawyer that is innovative and flexible that can communicate with you on Slack and use collaboration tools like Google Docs and Dropbox.
Above all, your lawyer should be a value-adding resource for your growing company. Make sure to clear out these key points before you engage a lawyer; this will make you more comfortable with the working relationship and help prevent some unwanted surprises later