3 Ways To Land The Best Startup Lawyer
In this article, I share with you 3 ways to find and land the best startup lawyer for your business.
Business lawyers come in different backgrounds, experiences and skillsets. That’s a fact. And as a startup founder, you need to make sure you hire the right lawyer for your startup business. And I get it, it can be overwhelming or daunting to find the right one, but trust me, it can be very exciting when you finally do.
Almost every entrepreneur, startup founder finds themselves overwhelmed at some point especially at the beginning of their journey – when they are literally having to do everything. There is a lot to know and learn but there is a lot to watch out for, and both are equally important.
How did the giants like Airbnb, Uber and recently, AfterPay and GymShark, make it to the top? The answer is ‘they did a lot of things right’. And whilst this topic requires a few blog pieces and perhaps even books, in this article, I’ll shed light on the legal aspect of it.
But first, let’s do a quick deep dive on Uber, which is notorious for lawsuits and settlements inside and outside of court. Uber recently settled a case where an Adelaide-based former Uber Eats driver Amita Gupta and her husband Santosh were allegedly unfairly dismissed for being late on a delivery. The matter was taken to court, but Ms Gupta and Uber have reached a confidential settlement before a judgement could be handed down. So, who won here? I’d argue that both sides did. It takes a great lawyer to understand what direction to take and settlements are in many times, the right approach to take.
Now, if you take a look at the big picture, Uber is just an example of a business that was once a small startup going down the road that’s filled with a lot of challenges and exposure – from a business standpoint but also a legal standpoint. And the reality is, most startups do face the same uncertainty and risk.
By definition, a startup is an innovator of some sort. You create a new business model, product or technology. And in many cases, introducing something new means that there might not be clear cut rules and laws around it. And this is one of the biggest risk elements. Starting a business is risky in it of itself. Mind you, starting a business in a space where the law is grey or can be interpreted in many ways.
Working with a competent startup lawyer is not only essential but absolutely critical. So, how do you find the right one? Here are my 3 tips.
1. Assess their commercial and business acumen
A lawyer with strong business acumen will mean that they’ll be able to advise you on the different routes and avenues you want to take with your business – from capital raising to structuring the business and product development. Not only will they prevent you from landing on a legal landmine, but they’ll also help you stay on the right path.
2. Understand their commercial law experience and expertise
If you are food or beverage startup and you’re approaching a business lawyer who only worked with or specialises in IT startups, you’re probably better off to look for other options. There are many industry-specific areas of the law that require not only understanding it on a theoretical level but requires practice and years of experience to be able to best guide businesses.
3. Can be flexible with their fees structure
And finally, you need a startup lawyer who can be flexible enough with their fees structure to allow your business to grow and re-invest in its growth plans. Some lawyers will charge a fixed retainer and some lawyers will charge a fixed fee per task (e.g., drafting a contract) and some will charge by the hour. What works for you will depend on the nature of legal work your business requires. Don’t shy away from asking and proposing a structure that fits your goals and budget.
There you have it. These are my top 3 pieces of advice when looking for a great startup lawyer.