HOW IMPORTANT IS A LAWYER TO YOUR STARTUP?

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The week is only two days old, and I have already heard twice from different startups the question, do I need a lawyer? Let me preface this by saying I was not interviewing for the job but rather I was asked to meet with both companies as a favor to a mutual business acquaintance. 

My answer to the question, a resounding yes! Quickly followed by, how on earth have you been managing thus far? The steps that one undertakes when starting a company can set the tone for the entire life of the entity. Think of your company as a house, without the correct foundation the house will crumble, and all of your efforts may well be in vain. 

From determining the appropriate entity for your business to drafting customized operating agreements or bylaws your initial actions must set a clear and viable path to your goals. 

Raising money is another consideration that almost every entrepreneur and startup business must undertake, and one of the lessons you will learn very quickly is that not all money is equal. If you're not careful, the investment that sounds like a gift today can be a nightmare tomorrow. 

It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people say they cannot afford to hire a lawyer and then in the next sentence they proudly show me a logo or design that they have spent thousands of dollars on. Always make sure that you have your priorities straight I am certainly not trying to dimish the importance of aesthetically pleasing branding material rather I am imploring you to distribute your resources in a manner that ensures at a minimum your foundational documentation is complete and your intellectual property protected. 

The next time someone tells you that they cannot afford to hire a lawyer politely tell them that they cannot afford not to.