The business world is a veritable minefield of potential lawsuits. Between like-minded thinking and outright property theft, entrepreneurs can get pretty cutthroat when it comes to chasing that unicorn status. For this reason, startups need to make sure that their legal counsel is not only prepared, but also open to questions that could make all the difference in your company's future. As for which questions to ask, we've got you covered.
According to a small survey of 55 lawyers conducted by UpCounsel, there are a number of important questions you need to ask your lawyer as a budding startup. For one, incorporation and intellectual property are direly important legal battles that you need to face head on. 41 percent of lawyers agreed that at least one of these two facets of business are crucial to protecting the future of your business. Respondents suggested a few questions you could ask, including:
- When should I form a business entity for my new venture?
- What legal entity form should I use?
- How should I structure my entity?
- Does my business or product name infringe on someone else’s trademark?
- Do I need to consider intellectual property as part of my startup costs/budget/protection?
The respondents also pointed out that hiring a lawyer, if you haven't already, is also notably important. In fact, 22 percent of respondents put that at the top of their list, making it the second most important legal issue to address before moving forward. When hiring a lawyer, you need to properly vet and interview them. Respondents suggested asking questions like:
- What hands-on experience has the lawyer had with startup businesses, and how long did the lawyer represent the business after initial formation?
- How can the lawyer help accomplish your established goals?
- Can the lawyer work within your budget?
While startups may be tempted to ask a lawyer about things like employment issues, venture capital law, or even startup tips, these lawyers insist that they're near the bottom of the list, with only 1 percent, 4 percent, and 6 percent of respondents viewing them important, respectively. Focus on the big legal picture when building your company and you'll never go wrong.