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Ask HN: How did you select your lawyer?
8 points by dear on Feb 14, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 3 comments
As a startup in its early stage, how did you choose your lawyer? What are your most important criteria? Size of the firm (global law firm vs specialized local firm)? Costs? Reputation? Words of mouth (friend's friend's recommendation)? etc. Did you interview your lawyer before committing? Do you regret your choice?

For my first incorporated venture, I went to my personal network and had someone refer me to someone he was close to in law school. You should know, I went to school in the Bay area and my college roommate went to Stanford. So, his referral was from the best of the best, who went to a major tech / startup / vc firm and already had a bit of experience.

Now, any major firm that works with startups will defer costs until a raise or early exit (save the incorporation costs to the state).

Now, you'll always have tradeoffs. A personal relationship with an attorney, even if it's a friend of a friend, gives you better access and stretches the amount they are willing to help, especially when it comes to advice or referrals. However, if you don't have an in with the attorney, you'll have to cultivate that relationship like you would with any other contact.

Now, do you interview the attorney? Absolutely! And make sure you interview both the partner and the associate, if you choose a larger firm.

The most important criteria is trust. You can't expect the attorney to spend countless hours customizing docs for an unknown startup, that has yet to warrant the labor, nor will likely have the ability to pay (after all, if you don't raise / exit, they write-off the costs). However, good advice, availability and willingness to make an intro (if they think it's germane) is important...so talk to other clients in your situation.

No regrets.

Thanks for your response! Is it a norm that lawyers defer payment until a raise/exit, which may take months or years? Do you have to ask for that special treatment?

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