Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the seminar for French and German corporate law, in Aix-en-provence. The subjects of the conference were centered about legal developments, Brexit and how working with startup clients is changing the legal landscape.
This seminar had been organised for the 22nd time and as such is one of the most long-standing cross-border conferences. I had the pleasure of speaking alongside Gerhard Manz, Matthias Grund and Antje Lukas. They gave me the floor to present Clocktimizer and to explain how we engage with our legal advisors.
This was a great opportunity to identify what legal documents we use. Hopefully this blog will act as an overview of the documents a startup needs to have in place. I have listed these below, making a distinction between ‘classically’ sourced and ‘disruptively’ sourced.
Classically sourced startup legal documents
Quite a few of our documents are still coming through classic networking. However, we tend to work with more forward-thinking firms.
Through our network (personal connections)
- Option Plan, (Our option plan is accompanied by an infographic, which is neat)
- Cloud-terms of service
Referrals via network, but no personal connection:
- Trademark registrations (EU & US)
- Employment Agreement Template (via our accountant)
- Crowdfunding holding vehicle incorporations (via crowdfunding platform), but this felt like a lock-in.
Self, with help of the internet
- Intercompany relation documentation
- Advisor agreements
- Referral agreements
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Shareholder agreements
Disruptively source legal startup documents
A lot of our legal work nowadays shifts to alternative solutions.
- Marketplaces (Contract reviews abroad | via Lexoo.com & PrioriLegal.com), we’ll now also work on new NDA templates.
- Automated contract creation for our subscription agreements and NDA’s.
- Artificial Intelligence, we have our NDA’s initially reviewed via NDALynn.com.
I have asked Gerhard to add to this list. He kindly referred to the following items that you may need:
- Standardisation of all relevant documents and agreements to the end of (i) cost minimisation and (ii) facilitation of due diligence in the event of investor participation and/or exit.
- Tax implications of legal measures, structures and solutions
Startups looking for lawyers
If you are setting up your startup, you probably don’t have tons of money and you are likely to spend the least amount possible on lawyers and instead put money towards growing the business. That is why I would expect from startup lawyers that they can help you with out-of-the-box templates that work for a (very) reasonable price. Obviously, if you are making things more complex (my advice would be to not do that!) things may get a bit pricier. I asked Dr. Gerhard Manz about his one recommendation for a law firm that wants to work with startups:
“Of course, every lawyer will recommend in the first place her-/himself(!) However, more generally spoken my advice is to look for a lawyer who meets the following characteristics: Experience with start-ups and with investors (knows both sides). Willing to work in the framework of agreed budgets. Not exclusively focused on her/his area of specialisation (e.g. corporate), but rather have a good overview of the issues arising in other fields (e.g. tax, IP, employment, regulatory etc.).” Gerhard Manz
Furthermore, I do see an incredible opportunity for law firms that focus on working alongside startups. If they set up templates that can easily be integrated in a startup’s workflow, that would create tremendous value. I would also recommend that lawyers keep a close eye on the likes of NDALynn.com and LawGeex.com and understand what they do.
I greatly enjoyed speaking with many of the attendants that were excited about the future and were eager to learn about new technology and processes and how they could use that for their own practices. Quite a landslide from where we were a few years ago, and in the right direction!