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Does Your Startup Need a Legal Department?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on
When you're focused on bringing your new idea to market and securing venture capital, hiring a lawyer might be the furthest thing from your mind. After all, your new product (probably) isn't illegal, so what do you need legal counsel for? But between city, state, and federal regulatory agencies and a slew of legal documents your startup is going to need, it's probably a good idea to invest some time and money in legal advice. But how much legal work do you need? And should it be in-house?

A Startup in Need

How do you know which tasks you can take on by yourself and which will need experienced legal attention? We can help with that. While writing your business plan and filling out a few boilerplate incorporation documents might be well within your non-expert purview, here are some issues you'll want a good attorney for: Employment Law: Former, current, or prospective employees can bring with them myriad legal issues, from discrimination suits, hostile work environment claims, and even employment tax issues that might require an expert's touch;
  • Regulatory Law: Your startup will likely be subject to local, state, or federal government regulation, and you'll want an attorney to respond to complaints or investigations based on violations of any laws;
  • M&A Law: Startup companies often merge with or are acquired by larger companies or scoop up smaller companies themselves, and negotiating for the sale of your company or for the acquisition of another company or its assets without legal counsel is risky business.

A Lawyer Indeed

Even if you've determined that your startup needs some legal advice, that counsel can take many forms. You might just need to bring in an employment expert if you're facing a discrimination suit. You might need advice on matters involving intellectual property. Or you might want to hire a good incorporation attorney while getting your startup off the ground. Once you're up and running, you may find it helpful to have outside counsel, preferably a well-rounded law firm, on retainer to handle the myriad issues that could pop up. And, of course, if business is really booming, it might be more efficient to hire a general counsel and perhaps have a small in-house contingent of lawyers. The exact type of legal counsel your startup may need will depend on a variety of factors. Get in touch with an experienced commercial attorney or startup attorney to assess your startup’s legal needs. If you haven't started your business yet, you can complete business formation documents from home with simple, DIY options customized for your state.

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