Jennifer Cosco, CEO, Envy, which is set to launch a revamped version of its visual search engine

Think of your lawyer as part of your team,

not simply as a service provider carrying out specific legal tasks. The right attorney can be a person to bounce ideas off of and provide advice and assistance in a variety of ways, on business issues as well as legal matters.

  • Jennifer Cosco, CEO, Envy, which is set to launch a revamped version of its visual search engine


Dennis Cagan, entrepreneur, business consultant

Get good legal and business advice up front,

document what you are doing and make sure the documents are properly signed and filed where you can get them when they are needed. Talk to numerous sources, from attorneys to other business founders, and check references for your attorney and advisors.

  • Dennis Cagan, entrepreneur, business consultant


Scott Oross, attorney, Paul Hastings LLP

Don’t just assume you can clean it up later. 

Especially early on when cash is particularly tight, I sometimes see a tendency to cut corners on legal documentation in order to save money. That’s understandable and, in some cases, fine, but it can also be potentially dangerous, particularly when it’s couplaed with the thought that you’ll just be able to “clean up any mistakes” at some later point. Sometimes, yes, an ambiguously drafted contract or an incomplete memorialization of a handshake agreement can be fixed to the satisfaction of everyone involved. But other times — say, in the case of a fundamental disagreement among co-founders or a missed Section 83(b) election — it’s just not that easy, or maybe not even possible. At a minimum, I’d recommend consulting with a lawyer about the types of matters that can potentially be addressed (at least initially) at half-speed and the others that shouldn’t be.

- Scott Oross, attorney, Paul Hastings LLP

Don’t underestimate the ‘non-legal’ services

that your lawyer and law firm can provide.

In addition to representing startups, some Silicon Valley law firms also have a venture capital practice where they represent VCs in their fundraising and investment activity. A firm with a strong VC practice has relationships with investors that can be very helpful. They know which VC firms may be interested in investing in your company, what those investors care about and should be willing to introduce your company to appropriate investors when the time is right. -

Choose a lawyer/firm that is experienced

in working with startups in your industry and building those startups into successful companies. Questions to ask:

Does the lawyer/firm have a focus in your industry? (e.g., software, AR/VR, digital health, edtech, gaming, hardware, etc.)