What to Ask: Hiring an Attorney and Startup Tips | Alex Eichler, Esq.
Starting a new business? UpCounsel attorney Alex Eichler explains what every startup should be asking their legal team about hiring an attorney and startup tips3 min read
Are you a deal closer?
Explanation: many lawyers are excellent in drawing problems on the wall, but only few are problem solving and deal closing in their thinking. In 95% the cases you just need someone to close the deal and inform you about the risk, so that you can do a decision. Only in the rest 5% you need the other type of persons.
Can you explain to me in plain English the issues and solutions?
Explanation: you can have a top lawyer, which helps you nothing if they cannot communicate in an understandable way – which they often cannot. They also need to educate your employees and they have to do this in a way understandable to the employees.
Can you do a risk based approach?
Explanation: very seldom in business life you get it all. In most cases your deals will contain risks. Lawyers don't like risks, they aim for a perfect legal solution. Result: very long legal texts, complicated to read, not really understandable. Would you sign such wording as customer? Most probably not. Simpler wording and less text means higher risks. That's fine as long as you know the risks and can try to mitigate them.
Do you think business or only legal?
Explanation: You don't need someone telling you a legal solution which does not work in business. And you need someone who can see e.g. a financial mitigation to a legal risk, who understands bookkeeping rules as far necessary for the legal wording and who understands the business behind deals.
What is the best way a small business owner can protect personal wealth and assets from business risks?
Separate personal wealth and assets from business and do not get this connected. Think about putting personal wealth and assets in a separate legal entity.
What specifically are small business owners most confused about when you first meet with them?
The details of legal issues.
How can quality legal services help a small business grow?
Strongly by thinking in terms of the business and bringing in the business experience and networking capabilities a business minded attorney has.
How can quality legal services help small businesses save money?
By avoiding risks, showing risk mitigation strategies, and by sharing appropriate rates.
How can small businesses maximize the value of their legal team’s services?
By selecting the right-minded lawyers and using the legal team as an asset to close deals and not as a problem naming but not solving entity.
Should business partners have the same amount of equity in a company? Why or why not?
Not at all. There should be someone who can decide in case of a situation where otherwise no decision would be done.
What are the top three things a small business owner should be aware of when purchasing an existing business?
Due diligence reviewing customer lists, sale records, advertising materials, and employee contracts, Find out if there are any patents, copyrights, or trademarks associated with the business, Determine why the business is for sale.
Do you have any other essential legal guidance for startups that you haven't already included in this survey?
Don't waste to much time on legal. At the beginning buy external legal service with partners you like to work with. Hear to them, guide them, but let them do their job and concentrate on your business. You have to conduct an orchestra through a long and hefty storm, legal is just one musician on board.