Great startup lawyers

contractsMy reaction to the recent Venture Hacks post on lawyers was that we need to help entrepreneurs find good attorneys!  They are out there — I am certainly happy with my current attorney, Brian Hutchings at Gunderson, and when I was selling the first company I founded, my attorney at Fenwick was indispensable.

So today I reached out to a whole bunch of entrepreneurs around North America and asked who they would recommend.   I asked for folks who would fit the following criteria:

  • has a practice with several Web startups, and understands startup issues
  • keeps billable hours reasonable, respecting cash of clients
  • is both an excellent lawyer and communicator
  • does not lose sight of business needs when thinking through legal issues
  • truly cares about representing your business (without conflicts of interests with VCs or other)

Thank you all who sent in recommendations and helped spread the word.  So far I have over 25 recommendations across 11 different regions (Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Silicon Valley / San Francisco, Toronto, Washington D.C.

To check out the list, which I’m continuing to update as suggestions and comments roll in from entrepreneurs, you can click here (or see the tab at top of page).  To send in your own suggestions, email me at giff(dot)constable @gmail.

ADDENDUM
William Carleton, one of the lawyers recommended to me for the list, blogged about the criteria above and I thought I would append this post with my comment left on his blog:

I should note that when I talk about keeping billable hours reasonable, it’s not really about getting lots of free upfront work, but rather a conscious effort by the attorney to both practice and bill efficiently, fairly, and cost-effectively. With some firms, especially big ones with big clients, if they think you have means and VC backing, all thoughts of cost-effectiveness go out the window and the bills can rack up fast. I don’t think it’s even greed as much as thoughtlessness.

Deferred fees are an obvious risk from the lawyer’s perspective, but even from the entrepreneur’s perspective you have to be careful because at some point, if you are making the headway you hope for, that bill will come due. It’s not free, and young entrepreneurs need to watch what they ask for, both to respect the time of the attorney as well as manage the balance due.

  • Another positive vote for Frank Taney in Philadelphia. He worked with me on start up through sale of two LLCs, and I couldn’t be happier. He works very hard to keep billed hours to a minimum, and is always willing to go the extra mile for his clients.

  • Tim Allen

    Another positive vote for Frank Taney in Philadelphia. He worked with me on start up through sale of two LLCs, and I couldn’t be happier. He works very hard to keep billed hours to a minimum, and is always willing to go the extra mile for his clients.

  • Another positive vote for Frank Taney in Philadelphia. He worked with me on start up through sale of two LLCs, and I couldn't be happier. He works very hard to keep billed hours to a minimum, and is always willing to go the extra mile for his clients.

  • Hi Giff,

    I’m interested in working with Gunderson Dettmer a New York Law office that you have on your list. Is it ok to say I was referred by your site and the list you have on your site?

    • of course – they are always game to talk to and try to be helpful to entrepreneurs

      • Thanks and I like your blog a lot of useful information. Keep it up this is great for entrepreneurs

  • wizzyweb

    I’m not sure Mary Beth Kerrigan belongs on your lawyer list. I contacted her about doing a rather straightforward developer agreement and she said she is $415 an hour and would need to bring in another lawyer to help with IP issues. For comparison, about $500 flat fee for the agreement is what I got back from others on the list, along with no need to involve other members of the firm. About $250 seems to be the average hourly rate. I’m sure Mary Beth is worth every penny in her expertise, I’m just not sure she belongs on this particular list.

  • Ashish Arora

    Hi Giff,

    Do you have any reference for lawyer in bay area, since this article is 3 yrs old, i am guessing there is an updated list somewhere

  • Billable hours? Why would entrepreneurs, who are trying to innovate, choose to work with small firm/solo attorneys who still bill by the hour? Billable hours incentivize … inefficiency. With startup projects in particular, a lawyer should be able to quote a fixed fee, and goodcounsel handles nearly all startup transactional work on a fixed-fee basis. We like the incentives better: to use process and technology to make our practice more efficient. Sure, there are plenty of smart lawyers out there who can do the work, but unfortunately, it seems that many of them have peeled off of large firms without rethinking the large firm business or billing models. Entrepreneurs should work with entrepreneurial attorneys. (Admittedly, they are hard to find.)