question re. working for startup

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question re. working for startup

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:16 am

Is it at all beneficial that I can code as well as be legal counsel?
Background: CS degree. I'm at a V30 doing Patent Lit (first year) but hoping to start looking for opportunities at early stage startups in the early 2018. I'd be happy to be (maybe even prefer to be) involved in the overall business and day to day technical side of things, but given my legal background, it seems I should be advertising that to those startups as well.

h2go

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby h2go » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:28 am

How early stage are we talking about? A patent litigation background is not really useful to early stage companies unless they have some sort of patent docket to manage. Coding experience is useful, but that alone won't get you a job.

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Mickfromgm

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby Mickfromgm » Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:37 am

Anonymous User wrote:Is it at all beneficial that I can code as well as be legal counsel?
Background: CS degree. I'm at a V30 doing Patent Lit (first year) but hoping to start looking for opportunities at early stage startups in the early 2018. I'd be happy to be (maybe even prefer to be) involved in the overall business and day to day technical side of things, but given my legal background, it seems I should be advertising that to those startups as well.


For most startups, their utmost need is IP. So patent lit and CS background would be very valuable, depending on situation.

If I were you, in anticipation of your future plans, I would cozy up to partners or senior associates in the corporate department to work on some of their projects. In particular, general corporate, securities (angel/VC/IPO), tax (esp. with respect to entity selection). Get a deeper understanding of corporate law and lingo. That would increase your marketability to startups by 300% or whatever. . . . you may find that pat lit experience only would be very limiting.

As for coding, it depends on how awesome you are at it and what the startup's need is in that regard. For startups, I would think that people with competence in multiple facets would be welcome. Can't hurt, it seems to me, so long as you have enough time to handle both capably.

Good luck with your plan!

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:24 am

h2go wrote:How early stage are we talking about? A patent litigation background is not really useful to early stage companies unless they have some sort of patent docket to manage. Coding experience is useful, but that alone won't get you a job.

Post-seed. Not very picky but hoping to get paid at least 30-40k a year for ramen. And thanks for that last part. I'll try to get some transactional experience during my time here.

Mickfromgm wrote:For most startups, their utmost need is IP. So patent lit and CS background would be very valuable, depending on situation.

If I were you, in anticipation of your future plans, I would cozy up to partners or senior associates in the corporate department to work on some of their projects. In particular, general corporate, securities (angel/VC/IPO), tax (esp. with respect to entity selection). Get a deeper understanding of corporate law and lingo. That would increase your marketability to startups by 300% or whatever. . . . you may find that pat lit experience only would be very limiting.


Thanks for the insight! I assume I can't reach outside of my group for work, but my group does include some transactional work (licensing, trademark, copyright, licensing related to M&A, etc.) so I may reach out to those partners.


Mickfromgm wrote:As for coding, it depends on how awesome you are at it and what the startup's need is in that regard. For startups, I would think that people with competence in multiple facets would be welcome. Can't hurt, it seems to me, so long as you have enough time to handle both capably.

Good luck with your plan!


I've been keeping up with web dev and some iOS dev but I'm thinking no DB or back-end work might hurt me. I'll see if I can take a couple udemy courses to see if I can get my skills polished.

Mickfromgm wrote:
Good luck with your plan!

Thanks! :)

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Mickfromgm

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby Mickfromgm » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:33 am

Any time.

You should start networking in earnest now. Startups don't usually find their GC through advertising and so on, as you know. This could work out nicely. You'd be a hot commodity at incubator cocktail parties with your pat lit expertise. . . . maybe you get to make rain now, too. Someone is always sending or receiving a cease and desist, ya know.

favabeansoup

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:33 pm

Highly recommend getting transactional experience.

In my opinion coding won't be helpful really. That won't be your job and, frankly, they probably can find better coders than someone who has been out of practice for awhile.

It may help to understand certain products better (depending on what type of startup we are talking about) but other than that you'll be doing all transactional/corporate stuff.

Example things you would be doing:

Looking through the million T&Cs of various suppliers/vendors the startup is working with to disagreeable terms. Negotiating NDAs for new customers/vendors. Working with sales team (if you have one). Handling all of the corporate filings/tax/securities stuff ("hey XYZ, I have stock options explain everything about them to me" happens a lot), updating cap tables frequently. Handling stock option packages for new hires. Various IP/Licensing things. Working with board/investors depending on financing round. DATA PRIVACY ISSUES (big time now with GDPR coming up).

Not an exhaustive list, just some things I thought of.

In my opinion, a true "startup" will need more of the corporate side of things rather than patent lit experience, but others might disagree.

Every company is different so some things might not be applicable or there might be other things, but you'll definitely have very little time to put your coding experience to any practical use. Especially if you are coming on as the company's only lawyer.

*Worked at a startup's legal team few financing rounds in during law school

Mockingbird42

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Re: question re. working for startup

Postby Mockingbird42 » Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:40 pm

I'm going to agree with transactional over IP. A lot of early stage startups don't patent their product and even release it as packages. Open source code is a great way to get someone to beta and fix your code for free.

Compliance is probably the most useful skill set. There is a lot of confusing regulation in tech and it's pretty new and inconsistently applied. Having someone who knew what was relevant to the product would be useful.

That said, I also can't imagine a series A start up would even waste the money on in house counsel. The only thing I could see is if you were a full time coder with a jd who sometime answered legal questions. I worked at a couple start ups and lived in SV/SF for years and can't think of a startup that had full-time in house counsel. Teams might be hired for a deal or regulatory crisis, but at the scale these people operate there isn't work everyday. Also, There are law firms that specialize in that space and some take equity in lieu of payment. For a cash-tight startup, paying equity is way cheaper than $40k. I would do a lot more research into whether these positions even exist before you try to specialize in what skills they would need.



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