What law firm do you recommend for a startup?

QUESTION:

One of our founders asked the question, “We’re starting our search for a law firm. Do you have anyone you’d recommend? We’re looking for someone with investor contacts in our industry and someone with whom we can defer payment.”

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo cofounder of Founders Space

Most of the larger law firms in Silicon Valley have good investor contacts.  Some are more proactive than others.  The bottom line is that it’s really the individual lawyer within the firm that counts.  You need to find someone you connect with, and someone who believes in you and your business and is willing to go the extra mile to see to it that you get funded.

Naturally, I haven’t worked with every law firm in the valley, but I have worked with some of the bigger ones and had a great experience with all of them.   I strongly feel that you should meet with a number of firms and decide which is most excited about your company and willing to really help you get your business off the ground.

Here’s my personal experience so far…

1) Orrick is really founder focused.  They’ve put together a comprehensive program headed by Chad Lynch.  You should definitely talk to him if you’re getting up and running.

2) I’ve worked with Allison Tilley at Pillsbury Winthrop, and she is very competent and helpful.  She was great at making introductions, providing deferred payment, and supporting our company through the ups and downs of running a startup.

3) My partner has also worked with Dave Young at DLA Piper, and he is a first-rate attorney and well connected.  He’s in Southern California, but he flies in and out of Silicon Valley all the time.

Again, the bottom line is that it pays to talk to a number of firms and find out who you click with.  There are also smaller, boutique firms and independent lawyers who charge less and can be a very good fit with early-stage startups.  You don’t necessarily need a big firm right off the bat — especially pre-funding.  I recommend that you talk to at least three firms before making a decision.

Another great way to discover firms is to use this site and connect with our advisors.  Some of them are attorneys and you’ll be able to get a sense for the type of advice they give just by reading their posts and comments.

Note:  Before making any business decisions based on information on this site, it is your responsibility to check with your counsel or professionals familiar with your situation.

Comments & Advice:
  1. Lawfin says:

    What about firms outside the valley?

    Also – how do law firms (especially the brand names you described) manage costs for early stage companies – any of them creative?

  2. Aaron Kelly says:

    check out their website(s), social media profiles, and do a google search on them. What organizations are they in? Do they do more than just practice law? Do they look like decent people? Then call them and ask what their hourly rates are, and if they have a “package” price for business startups and what it includes. At the very least, you should get a consult (and you'll have to pay for one with a good lawyer) to talk about your options. See how they treat you, and whether you are a number or whether you are being “wooed” in to the firm.

    Depends on the costs Lawfin. We try and keep our costs low for any new business startups, as long as it is within reason. I love talking to my clients, but I also expect them to become educated on business. Therefore, I take a practical approach to my practice…and teach my clients the ins and outs of business.

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