What you should expect from your startup lawyer!

Published on: 17 Feb 2018

With Tech startups developing across the globe and disrupting industry after industry, legal needs are rapidly changing. Entrepreneurs are the enthusiast, active, passionate and devoted people looking for "results" and rapid scalability on all levels and metrics. Growth does not follow your typical patterns in such type of businesses and service providers should make sure to understand such nature. All service providers and suppliers of startups should be agile and able to extend their reach to cover these needs as the startup grows and this is why you should expect a lot of things from your service providers and especially your lawyers.

1. Experience and knowledge in Business development, marketing, and finance.

Any lawyer must understand that the startup they represent is their baby, it's their project and it's a journey they need to enjoy as much as the founders and the team. A lawyer must understand and advise in Business, and is surely needed throughout all the process of growing and scaling.

Your lawyer is your busienss consultant 

When hiring your lawyer, sit with them and discuss business approaches, discuss dreams and discuss projects and make sure you are aligned on all levels and your lawyer believes and understands your disruption. Make sure your lawyer knows how to market things whether services, products or just ideas because this is going to play a big role in seeking venture capital and strategic partners but also customers. Moreover, your lawyer should be an expert in Finance and assist you in your financials and your budget strategy while not being relied on to deliver end results but rather to consult. Basically, a lawyer should understand your dream, your business, your disruption, your financials and be aligned with your objectives to be the best lawyer for your startup.

2. Legal knowledge, experience, and credentials

A lawyer is primarly a lawyer. 

You should consider looking at your lawyer's track record and clientele. Make sure they have a clear path towards reaching their current position and look for commonalities between your prospective lawyer's clients, ensuring there is a high level of commitment to a certain view of the world.

Your lawyer should have experience in Business law to guide you through the best incorporation possible because it will be crucial in growing, adding or retracting partners and raising capital. The business law includes commercial law but also employment law, tax law, Intellectual property law, real estate law, international compliance, but also the administrative law. Your lawyer should understand all these fields in order to guide you on the right path, on the exact path to scalability.

Tax law deserves a paragraph on its own. Indeed your lawyer should give you tax advice and if he or she says they do not know, then you should leave. They have to know, they have to understand and they have to consult. Request to understand what will be your tax dues? and how to make sure to decrease your dues as you grow across borders.

Finally look for lawyers who understand foreign and international law because your market is the world, it is not the city or the village, it is the world. Although it is not easy to see the value of a lawyer at first glance and it's not easy not to choose your friend, relative or neighbor as your lawyer, think twice before making that choice because it will affect "all" your progress. Choose the lawyer who best suits your business and who offer the best added value out there. Preferably look for a lawyer that you do not know as this will increase the level of professionalism in the relationship.

"Do not choose your friend, relative or neighbor as your lawyer" 

Look for lawyers who took the risk to study abroad whether Europe, Asia or the United States because these kinds of lawyers will have the open minded approach and exposure needed to be with you when scaling on international markets.

Lots of lawyers do not execute the basic legal needs and this is wrong. Your lawyer has a "duty" to draft and review your contracts, give you written and oral legal opinions, follow up on filings and registrations, assist in negotiations of deals, guarantee you are always protected and always think preventively. Your lawyer is obliged ethically and legally to do all of this and you should always make sure to request such services.

3. Connected, sociable and Active. 

Your lawyer should be very well connected and use their network for your benefit. Your lawyer should be your source of contact and should have a high number of connections to be used to grow your business. Part of your fees to your lawyer is the networking service you are getting. In today's world, your lawyer is not only the one who draft contracts for you or files papers, your lawyer is your Public relations person and this is part of their tasks for you.

Choose a lawyer that is active, sociable and is present at events and ceremonies while making sure he is not always focused on such because that could be a sign of lack of seriousness.

Your lawyer is your PR, its part of his scope of work and you are paying for it 

Your lawyer has a duty to answer your needs, connect you to his other clients and create opportunities for you. When you sit with your lawyer ask them whom they can connect you with and what do they think is the best approach to meet prospective customers and partners.

4. International exposure. 

Your lawyer is also your getaway to the world. It is preferable they have studied abroad, they are accredited in major cities such as Paris, London, New York, Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo... Many Lebanese lawyers have completed LLMs (Masters in Law just like MBAs in Business), and sat for the New York Bar, Paris Bar, or even other bar association exams, which means they can represent you in these jurisdictions and guess what it's going to be much more effective and efficient and cheap to have your Lebanese lawyer represent you in New York than hiring a New York-based lawyer.

Your lawyer in Lebanon can represent you in New York, Paris, London, Dubai.... Its GREAT value, much more affordable and much more fluent. 

Valuable information: ANY contract signed in excess of 250,000 USD in value can be litigated in New York, wherever it is done and whoever are the parties. So just imagine you sing a contract in Beirut with any person or company for a value of 260,000 USD and that person did not deliver. Well instead of going to Lebanese courts, waiting years and getting nothing, you can go ahead and litigate it in New York and the best thing is that your Lebanese lawyer who is a member of the New York Bar can do this for you. Bear in mind that execution of the judgment is difficult if that person does not have any interests in New York but usually when you sing such deals with service providers and/or investors they do have connections to the United States and to New York. So keep this in mind.

Conclusion 

Your lawyer is:

  • Your knowledgeable, experienced and smart legal and tax advisor.
  • Your business consultant and your support in scalability
  • Your PR advisor and generator of social and business connections.
  • Your gateway to international markets
  • And the partner who listens and guides and understands your vision of the world.

And you are paying for all of this not just a few contracts drafted and papers filed.