New Jersey Startup Attorneys & Lawyers for Hire on UpCounsel

New Jersey Startup Attorneys & Lawyers for Hire

While Silicon Valley might still be the Promised Land for new startups, New Jersey is certainly holding its own. New Jersey Business Magazine reports that the state has seen an overall increase in high-tech startup activity, largely due to Jersey's changing labor market and accessible venture capital. But money isn't the only thing you need to get your business off the ground. You also need sound legal advice to create, structure, protect, and sustain your fledgling company. Because those functions are essential to the success of your business, finding the best New Jersey startup attorney should be a top priority.

Why Hire a New Jersey Startup Attorney?

Just like every startup needs an accountant, every new business should also have a startup lawyer, also referred to as a business attorney or corporate lawyer. A New Jersey startup attorney can help you avoid rookie mistakes, such as waiting too long to issue stock, for example. If you wait too long, your company's stock value may grow to the point that your employees won't be able to get special tax breaks.

A startup attorney can help you achieve smart growth by properly managing risk and helping you ask the right questions at the right times. Specifically, the top New Jersey startup lawyers will be able to advise you on the following issues:

  • Preparing a financing plan. Launching a startup or purchasing an existing company costs money that you will have to somehow finance. You'll have startup costs as well as the ongoing expenses of running the business. A startup attorney can advise you on the pros and cons of available financing options, such as venture capital and bank loans, and help you prepare the documents and plans you'll need to qualify.
  • Preparing a business plan. Venture capitalists won't invest in your company without a sound business plan. A good New Jersey startup attorney can work closely with you to draft a plan that will appeal to investors so that you can attract the most capital. Your attorney can help you answer investors' questions such as these:
    • What kind of business is this?
    • How are you different from your competitors?
    • Do you have research showing a need for your goods or services?
    • How will you market your goods or services?
    • Who is going to manage the business?
    • Who is going to work for the business?
    • How are you going to pay for ongoing operations?
    • What type of business entity will you select?
  • Choosing the right type of business entity. The type of business entity, or structure, you choose will affect everything from your personal legal liability to how you are taxed. Your startup attorney will work with you and your accountant to help choose the entity that's right for you and any other owners. Possible business entity options might include sole proprietorships, general or limited partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and S- or C-corporations.
  • Protecting your intellectual property. The intellectual property (IP) of your business is everything from your name to your patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Hire a New Jersey startup attorney early to spare yourself the nightmare of a lawsuit for infringement on someone else's IP or filing suit against someone for infringement on yours. A startup lawyer can help you choose a name and trademarks that don't infringe on others, then help you protect your patents and other IP with formal registration.
  • Contracts. It's only a matter of time before your business has to draft or sign a contract with a partner, supplier, client, or other party. Entrepreneurs rarely have the knowledge necessary to read over these complicated documents and ensure that they're fair. Your startup attorney can help you write contracts that put you in a good position with suppliers and partners and review contracts with others to keep you from locking yourself into a raw deal.
  • Advice on how to hire, pay, and terminate employees. Startups are often bound by all sorts of local, state, and federal regulations regarding employees. Entrepreneurs usually don't know the first thing about labor laws, let alone how to properly comply with them. This is another area where an attorney can guide you as you begin to staff your company and compensate the employees you already have.

How to Find the Best New Jersey Startup Attorneys

The best New Jersey startup lawyer will understand your industry, the local business climate, and applicable state and local laws. Word of mouth is always an excellent way to find a startup attorney who knows your sector, but how do you meet local like-minded entrepreneurs? If you're in the tech industry, you're in luck. There is a program for entrepreneurs and innovators called the NJ Tech Meetup at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ. The group meets about once a month to hear from speakers and startups. You'll find plenty of networking opportunities there as well.

Another option is the New Jersey State Bar Association. Depending on what county you plan on starting your business in, you can contact the local branch of the state bar to get more information on qualified attorneys. You can also check out the specialty state bar in New Jersey that handles startups and other business law matters: the New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association.

If you already have an attorney's name in mind, the New Jersey Courts website maintains an online NJ Attorney Index that allows you to search for attorneys admitted to practice in the state. The index also allows you to get the following information about attorneys:

  • Date of admission to the bar
  • License status in NJ (whether the attorney is in good standing)
  • Municipality and county of practice

As you search through the names of potential startup attorneys, here are some qualities to look for:

  • Familiarity with your industry. Startups in New Jersey are often tech-oriented, and that market presents unique legal questions that demand a startup attorney with relevant experience. Whatever your startup's specialty, look for a lawyer who has experience working on the same matter for similar new companies. For example, if you need help incorporating your gaming app startup, look for an attorney who has created a corporation for a new tech company before.
  • Communication. As an entrepreneur, there's a good chance you're new to the business world, which means you'll likely have a lot of questions as you grow your business. If your attorney isn't responsive, you risk making the wrong decision or missing time-sensitive opportunities. When you find a potential startup attorney, send him or her an email or leave a phone message. If the attorney doesn't get back to you within 24 hours, you should probably move on. That's usually a good indication of how responsive you can expect your attorney to be once you're officially a client.
  • If you're on a tight budget, look for fixed-fee options. Typically, attorneys bill by the hour, and there's no telling how many hours a task for your startup might take. If you don't have much of a legal budget, and most startups don't, look for an attorney who will complete your task for a fixed fee. For example, if you're seeking to register a trademark, search for an attorney who will give you an all-inclusive quote for the entire process, not an hourly rate.

Questions for New Jersey Startup Attorneys

Here are some questions to ask a New Jersey startup lawyer before you hire one:

  • How long have you been licensed to practice in New Jersey?
  • How long have you been practicing as a startup attorney?
  • How much experience do you have with this particular issue?
  • How many startups have you worked with in my industry before?
  • What industry are most of your startup clients in?
  • Do you know how to incorporate (or form whatever business entity you want to form) in New Jersey? How much will it cost? If you want to do business in New Jersey, you have to file organizational documents with the New Jersey Department of Treasury. This applies to corporations (for-profit and non-profit), limited partnerships, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships. Ask prospective attorneys if they will file these forms with the proper authorities for you or if they will only draft them.
  • What is your fee schedule? Do you offer discounts to startup companies? Would you consider a fixed-fee arrangement?
  • Will you be the one actually handling the work for my company? If you're dealing with an attorney in a law firm, you need to find out whether the attorney you're talking to is a finder, a minder, or a grinder. These are nicknames for the attorney's role within the firm. Finders recruit new clients, minders take on new clients and keep current ones happy, and grinders actually do the work. Ideally, the attorney you talk to will be the one who actually does the work so you know whether you trust and are comfortable with him or her.
  • Will you take the time to teach me and my staff? Startup attorneys are unique in that they're not just there to push papers. The best startup attorneys will also educate you and your employees on how to navigate the legal world of your industry. A good startup attorney will answer your questions and give advice in a way that helps you see both sides so you can start to make independent decisions.

Once you've decided on a startup attorney, here's what you should ask:

  • What's the best way to pay for my startup?
  • How do I create a business plan?
  • What business entity is best for my startup and why?
  • What do I need to know about choosing the right name for my startup?
  • What intellectual property is most valuable to my company? How do I go about protecting it?
  • What risks do we face as a company? How can we minimize those risks? This is where your startup attorney can advise you on state and federal labor laws, anti-discrimination laws, employee handbooks, training, employee immigration status issues, etc. Addressing these issues up front can save you from stiff fines, penalties, and even litigation later.
  • What should I put in the company bylaws or operating agreement? Depending on the business entity you choose, the governing document of your organization will either be an operating agreement or a set of corporate bylaws. Your attorney can help you write and enforce these. This document will include things like how often you'll have board meetings, when you'll issue stock, how the minutes of meetings will be kept, etc.
  • What contracts does my startup need to form? Contracts can help protect your startup from costly mistakes and litigation by clearly spelling out your rights and responsibilities and those of your contracting partners. You might need a contract to keep your employees from sharing confidential information, for example, or from working with a competitor.

On UpCounsel, you can find and connect with several top-rated New Jersey startup attorneys & lawyers that provide a wide range of startup law services specifically for startups and entrepreneurs that are starting a business in the state of New Jersey or may wish to incorporate elsewhere. Any of the affordable startup lawyers you connect with are vetted, rated, reviewed, and will be available to help with a variety of your startup law related legal needs on-demand or on an ongoing basis.

Typically dealing with startup legal needs like business formation, contracts, leases, equity financing, securities, and intellectual property protection, the New Jersey 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 save money and hire an experienced startup lawyer servicing the state of New Jersey to help you today.

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