If you’re the founder of a startup, then you’ll know full well that there are times when every startup needs a lawyer. Whether you’re seeking IP advice or drafting an employment agreement, sometimes only professional expertise will do. But as a founder, you will also likely be familiar with the catalogue of horror stories that surround the founder-lawyer relationship: businesses billed a full £500 hour for a five-minute phone call; or charged £1000 for a “bespoke contract,” which was really nothing more than a template, freely available to anyone online.
So what can founders do to avoid becoming another cautionary tale? At Startups of London, we believe there is one simple answer: find the right lawyer.
The Challenges of Finding the Best Lawyer That Matches Your Needs
Now, this is hardly revolutionary, we know. For generations, founders have attempted to procure the services of the right lawyer by asking fellow founders for referrals. And this legacy approach is not without its merits. Knowing that a lawyer has done good work for another startup allows founders to proceed with greater confidence when commissioning legal services.
However, there are also three fundamental limitations to this approach.
1. Limited Choice
Since personal networks are relatively small, founders that seek referrals from other founders, however discerning, are likely to end up choosing from only a handful of lawyers, whose prior experience and special interests are unlikely to be an exact fit for the requirements of the individual startup. Sure, they might have delivered well on another founder’s project, but who’s to say they can do the same for yours?
2. Increased Cost
Limited choice means limited competition, and as such, higher fees. Lawyers know that they have an opportunity to levy premium charges against referred clients, taking advantage of their lack of options.
3. Limited Access
By virtue of its reliance on established professional networks, this legacy approach discriminates between founders according to their background and upbringing. A first-time founder, for example, is advantaged if they have a parent or family member in the corporate or legal community, whilst a founder with no network is forced to fend for themselves.
But fortunately, as Startups of London has discovered, there is now another way, and one that is totally free for founders.
Kula helps founders to find the perfect lawyer for them, by matching up their startup and its legal requirements with recommendations from successful entrepreneurs. They have mined the London startup community to its core, gathering recommendations for lawyers from some of the best entrepreneurs in town, to provide founders with a one-stop-shop for legal support.
Finding the Best Legal Partner with the Help of Technology
Using a proprietary matchmaking algorithm, Kula marries your profile with the profiles of aligned founders with shared interests, in order to identify recommended lawyers whose specialisms and experience are an exact fit for the individual requirements of your startup. Having cross-checked these recommendations against the specifics of your job description, Kula then gathers quotes from these recommended lawyers, before presenting the options to you, allowing you to make an informed choice on the basis of cost, experience and the credibility of the referring entrepreneur.
But what if you don’t have the money to spend on a lawyer?
At Startups of London, we constantly hear from founders who have a legal risk that must be dealt with, but no budget to do so. Kula seeks to circumvent this problem, offering attractive loans to founders in order to cover the costs of their legal services.
Of course, Kula is not alone in providing legal solutions for the 21st-century entrepreneur, with many founders seeking to sidestep the traditional legal apparatus. Around 20% of funding rounds in the UK for example, are now handled by the tech consultancy SeedLegals. This alternative legal solution allows founders to benefit from significantly reduced costs and increased speed of delivery. Whilst for smaller tasks, many founders choose to seek out freelance legal consultants and paralegals on UpWork and LinkedIn.
But such solutions are not without their risks. Unlike lawyers who are regulated professionals, and as a result, possess professional liability, consultants and paralegals hold no such promises. Whilst their services might offer the allure of convenience, they lack the surety of insurance.
So, your options are open. On the one hand, quick-fix low-cost convenience. On the other, a tailor-made legal solution. The choice, as always, is yours.
*Startups of London can make revenue from some of the links in this article.