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2x startup Founder & CEO who has gone to the Dark Side of VC. His first company, BuildOnline was sold in 2005, his second, Koral was acquired by and became known as Salesforce Content, while Mark served as VP Product Management. In 2007 Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner.  He focuses on early-stage technology companies, usually looking at Series A investment, and blogs at the aptly titled Both Sides of the Table.

One response to “How to Work with Lawyers at a Startup”

  1. Cary Platkin

    I’m a small firm, tech licensing lawyer with a SaaS focus, in the Bay Area. There are a lot of articles about how to be a good lawyer – but this is a great article about how to be a good client. Know what you need from your lawyer, work with start-up focused attorneys, set expectations early and often, hold on to work you can do yourself, and really own your deals without sticking your head in the sand on “legal” issues. These are great tips and really help ensure you’ll be happy with your counsel.

    Two tips I would add:

    (1) don’t assume you’ll want to work with every lawyer at your corporate counsel’s law firm. Just because you hired the big national law firm for financing, set up and M&A, doesn’t mean you have to use the same expensive firm for disputes, HR, contracts, leases, trademarks & patents, etc. Save money using the huge marketplace of small to medium sized firms that can do as-good or better work at FAR lower rates.

    (2) Another self-serving tip, but I really believe there is a difference between career outside counsel and attorneys who have had significant inside counsel experience. Lawyers who have worked in-house are more likely to get things done the way you expect them to. In most cases, they communicate better, negotiate better, find better solutions, etc., because they deeply understand the dynamics and pace of business. This distinction is especially true with younger associates at big law firms – it’s hard to meet client expectations when (1) you don’t know what you don’t know, and (2) you’re covering your ass on every single issue with the client AND your partner.

    Cary Platkin
    Founder, Platkin Law
    San Mateo, California