Washington Startup Attorneys & Lawyers

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David D.

David Dopsovic

21 reviews
David has practiced law in Federal government agency enforcement positions and for over 30 years with Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC law firms representing domes... read more
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Sarish K.

Sarish Khan

6 reviews
Business lawyer particularly interested in helping small businesses thrive. Prior to starting my own firm, I worked in New York City in corporate law focusing on fund forma... read more
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Jeff S.

Jeff Stoltz

37 reviews
Jeff Stoltz is an Attorney of Law with Stoltz Law, PLLC and before that, he worked as the Attorney Investigator, as well as a Regulatory Analyst for The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. His other experience includes working for John M. Campbell as a Law Clerk at the DC Superior Court. Jeff handles legal matters in Business Law for small businesses and startups. In 2007, he graduated with his J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and went on to obtain his Masters of Law.
Karen S.

Karen Selby

17 reviews
With a background in Labor and Employee Relations, Karen Selby makes a well-accomplished Attorney and an excellent Regional Manager of Pepco Holdings, An Exelon Company. She kicked off her legal career with the State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General as the Deputy Attorney General. Her specialties include representing Management in employment and labor law matters, workplace investigations, termination proceedings and severance agreements. Karen is a graduate of Howard Law School.
Brian F.

Brian Frankel

3 reviews
Brian Frankel is an established business lawyer who prides himself on helping tech startups, new businesses, and established businesses throughout the Washington D.C. area. Mr. Frankel has a love for the film industry and as an entrepreneur himself, he knows all of the requirements needed to start a business. Licensed to practice in both Florida and Washington D.C., Mr. Frankel is ready to help you fill out your business’s paperwork.
Kenneth G.

Kenneth Gray

3 reviews
Kenneth Gray, Jr. works as a managing partner at Alliance Law Firm International PLLC. He works specifically in estate planning, tax matters, venture capital journeys, and natural resources. His clients include both small and medium sized companies. He has over 10 years of experience to bring to the table and previously held a position in a private equity company, where he learned a lot of finance and uses that knowledge to help his clients.
Mackenzie E.

Mackenzie Evans

3 reviews
Mackenzie Evans is a graduate of Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC, and earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolin... read more
Brian P.

Brian Pendergraft

2 reviews
Brian Pendergraft is a licensed Property Lawyer and Owner of his own Law firm - working with both business and individuals. His practice areas, in order of his experience, are Landlord and Tennant, Probate, Guardianship, Estate Planning, Expungement and Real Estate matters. Brian attended the Florida Coastal School of Law, and graduated with his J.D. in 2013. He has also obtained his Bachelor of Science in Philosophy & Religion from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
Linda A.

Linda Awkard

2 reviews
Linda Awkard has a sum total of 37 years of experience in the legal world. Helping a variety of corporations, businesses, as well as individuals. She represents both international and national clients. Her main focus area is in contract law, including negotiation and dispute resolution. She has done legal work for corporations, start up and micro-businesses, trade associations, partnerships, high net worth individuals and more. Awkard studied with Fordham University Law School in New York City.
Cameron T.

Cameron Tousi

2 reviews
Cameron Tousi is an attorney at law with almost two decades worth of experience. He is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Cameron is also a member of the Maryland Patent Bar. He received his Juris Doctorate degree from the George Washington University Law School. Cameron primarily specializes in patents. He has been the managing partner of the IP Law Leaders PLLC since January 2012.
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Legal Tips and Information



Choosing the Right Startup Attorney in DC


When looking to hire a startup attorney for the first time, you may be overwhelmed by the choices available to you on the UpCounsel platform – there are some attorneys with extensive corporate backgrounds, some with unique industry connections, some with litigation experience, and others with a more focused practice offering.  Choosing the right startup attorney can be particularly difficult if you have little or no experience working with attorneys in a previous professional capacity.


Though circumstances vary quite a bit, if you’re just starting out, you’ll likely benefit from your attorney meeting certain criteria.


Broad Skillset


Your first startup attorney should have a broad skillset, or should work with other attorneys who can be brought on for certain tasks as needed (though be sure to confirm whether this will incur additional costs).  Having a broad skillset means that you attorney is well-equipped to advise on a variety of present and potential issues facing your startup, from intellectual property to employment law and third-party contract concerns.  A more specialized attorney may not recognize certain broader legal issues.  Failing to address potential legal difficulties early can lead to problems later down the road.


Prompt Engagement


Attorneys often distance themselves from their clients, a strategy employed by many time-strapped attorneys so as to prevent overextension for needy clients.  As you search for a startup attorney, try to assess an attorney’s willingness to engage with clients.  You do not want to work with an attorney who will outright avoid your emails and calls, or use a secretary as a barrier to communication.  Some matters are extremely time-sensitive, and it’s important that you be able to engage with your attorney and receive a response within a reasonable timeframe.


Customized Services


Avoid lazy attorneys.  Too often, attorneys will draft contracts and other documentation using a standardized “form” outline.  Though repeat provisions are to be expected, your attorney should properly assess your needs and customize your agreements as appropriate.  Reliance on form contracts can lead to serious legal problems later on (i.e., if your contract is not sufficiently specific).


When drafting agreements, a good DC startup attorney will sit down with you and your team and discuss the various provisions (and the consequences of such provisions) to ensure that you have a full understanding.  Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions!



Protect Your Brand


Intellectual property is often the most valuable thing that a budding startup owns – a brand, design, license, or process – and for such startups, protecting intellectual property is crucial to their success.  Of course, not all intellectual property concerns are pre-emptive or defensive in nature.  In some cases, your startup may have to pursue an infringement action against another business, and in other cases, your startup may have to license intellectual property from another business (i.e., music to play in an app).


Many startup attorneys spend part of their career practicing in intellectual property, so it’s common to find startup attorneys on the UpCounsel platform with intellectual property experience.  Depending on how fundamental intellectual property is to your startup (and how complicated you expect the issues to be), it may be worth hiring a specialized intellectual property attorney or, at the very least, working with a startup attorney who has specialized colleagues or Of Counsel that will be brought in as needed.




Your attorney should advise you on the strength of your trademark, register your trademark in the federal register or the applicable state, and research conflicting trademarks.  If trademark infringement issues crop up, your startup attorney should be capable of defending against or pursuing litigation (or should have the contacts necessary to bring in a skilled trademark litigation attorney).


The advising role of a startup attorney is absolutely crucial when it comes to trademarks.  If your mark is not maintained – through advertisement, pursuing infringers, etc. – you risk losing trademark protection.




Startups often violate copyright law by failing to license copyrighted media for their purposes.  The best startup attorneys are experienced in handling licensing from negotiation to completion.  If your startup emphasizes media production, then you may also need your attorney to advise on a licensing strategy and to take action against infringers.




Patents law is even more specialized than trademark and copyright law.  Though the business-side can be handled by a more general attorney (i.e., licensing), if you intend to apply for a patent, then you should work with an attorney who is a member of the Patent Bar and who has experience with filing, researching, and negotiating the complexities of a patent application.



Draft Sufficient and Explicit Documentation


Many startups initially look into hiring an attorney for document drafting needs.  They may be interested in forming as a corporation, limited partnership, or under some other organizational structure – which not only requires registration with the relevant authorities, but also requires that various business formation documents be drafted (such as the Articles of Incorporation, Stock Agreements, Founders’ Agreements, and more).  Others are looking to expand and would like quality employment contracts – alongside stock option agreements and confidentiality agreements – drawn up to ensure that everything is clear to incoming employees.


This can all be a bit overwhelming for the budding startup, but the key is not to move forward without the help of a qualified attorney.  Setting up functional contracts and drafting correct documentation is well-beyond the expertise of a layperson.


Keep the following in mind.


Online Form Contracts are not a Substitute


There are many popular online services nowadays, such as Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom, that offer cheap contract services.  You can order business formation documents and other basic contracts through their services, with minor user-driven customization.  The problem with these services is that the contracts are standardized, and an attorney does not advise on the provisions of the contract as they relate to your particular needs.


The value that a startup attorney brings is not only professional experience with regard to how to draft a contract correctly, but also the skill necessary to sit down with a client and understand their particular business needs and goals.  Once an understanding has been reached, your attorney will work with you to ensure that the provisions are comprehensible and to your satisfaction.  They will also advise you on the advantages and disadvantages of certain provisions, and how to draft around certain concerns.


Do Not Rely on Oral Contracts


Though oral contracts are generally enforceable in DC (and in most states) they are highly discouraged.  The problem with oral contracts is two-fold: 1) the contracting parties may not have reached a “meeting of the minds” as to the applicable provisions; and 2) they can be difficult to enforce.


Oral contracts can lead to a great deal of confusion between the contracting parties, as nothing is written down and recorded explicitly.  Suppose, for example, that you hire a freelance contractor according to an oral agreement.  The freelancer was under the impression that he would be paid every two weeks.  You were under the impression that the freelancer would be paid every month.  Without a written contract, there is no resolution to the problem except by compromise.


In the event of a legal dispute, you’ll find that oral contracts are much more difficult to litigate.  The facts of the contract are typically contested, and each party may have different memories pertaining to the agreement.


Rather than working with the uncertainty of an oral contract, it is recommended that you hire a startup attorney to draft written contracts.

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Legal Services Offered by Our On-Demand Washington Startup Attorneys

On UpCounsel, you can find and connect with top-rated Washington startup attorneys & lawyers that provide a range of startup law services for startups and entrepreneurs that are starting a business. Any of the top-rated Washington startup lawyers you connect with will be available to help with a variety of your startup law related legal needs on-demand or on an ongoing basis in the city of Washington, DC.

From primarily dealing with things like business formation, contracts, leases, equity financing, securities, and intellectual property protection, the Washington startup lawyers on UpCounsel can help you with a variety of specialized and general startup law related legal matters. No matter what type of startup law needs you have, you can easily hire an experienced Washington startup lawyer on UpCounsel to help you today.

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