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Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 1:09 pm

midlevel associate in a top tier venture capital/start-up practice. happy to answer questions.

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andy261

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by andy261 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 2:27 pm

what would you say are the biggest and/or non-obvious pros and cons of working in the VC/startup field? thanks!

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by r6_philly » Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:02 pm

How hard is it to get the clients to 1) be willing to pay for legal devices and 2) actually pay for it.

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DrStudMuffin

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by DrStudMuffin » Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:25 pm

Are you more on the VC fund formation side or the start-up side? Any notable QoL differences between the two?

If you're doing mostly emerging companies stuff, what do your options look like at this point re: going in-house?

Thanks!

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by JusticeHarlan » Fri Oct 24, 2014 7:57 pm

Not OP, and just a junior, but I do a decent amount of this work and can try to chine if helpful (shameless self-promotion, I did a little writeup on this stuff in the "What's Your Typical Day?" thread).
andy261 wrote:what would you say are the biggest and/or non-obvious pros and cons of working in the VC/startup field? thanks!
Maybe a bit in the "obvious" category, but the biggest pro and the biggest con is that start-up clients are often not "sophisticated." That doesn't mean they're dumb - they're very smart at what they do - but they're not well versed in business transactions. For example, they've never seen standard deal docs before and need you to walk them through everything (or, alternatively, they don't read anything and don't care what they're looking at). They think what takes week can and should be done in a few days. They need you to explain the cap table for their own company to them. They do things without telling you - like hiring c-level execs or issuing equity - that they really should tell you about.

But they also are less likely to email you at all hours of the night, less likely to harangue you on little nits that don't really matter, less likely to demand you turn around the docs the other side sent on Friday night by Saturday night.

Then again, sometimes the start-up is run by some serial entrepreneur who has done this a few times before, and none of that really applies.

As a junior, you'll do your share of diligence, especially if you're repping the VC in the deal, but the companies are less big and complex than more mature entities so there's just less there to diligence. It's also a great way to get document drafting experience early one - even if it's just taking a Series A SPA from a previous deal/NVCA model and updating it for the particulars of this particular deal's term sheet, you'll have your shot at crafting primary transaction documents early. You'll get some good client contact because you're leading the charge on the disclosure schedules and there often aren't any lower level people to work with on that, so you could be on the phone with the controller/CFO as a first year.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:42 pm

andy261 wrote:what would you say are the biggest and/or non-obvious pros and cons of working in the VC/startup field? thanks!
OP.

I'd say that the biggest con is that it's hard to accumulate a lot of hours doing this kind of work. Venture financings occupy maybe 60 hours per deal, and then you have a lot of day-to-day work for start-up clients, which add up to a ton of discrete matters, but not a ton of hours. I'll frequently work on 10 to 15 clients per day and I still won't get nearly as many hours as if I had block billed all of that.

Biggest pro is that my position is very client-facing and business oriented. I get a ton of client interaction with the founders of a company, and I frequently am at the forefront of negotiating venture deals. It gives me a greater sense of purpose than just diligencing 1,000 agreements for change of control clauses.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:46 pm

r6_philly wrote:How hard is it to get the clients to 1) be willing to pay for legal devices and 2) actually pay for it.
OP.

Clients that are venture-backed almost always pay. If they have a seed lined up, I'm not worried. Challenge, then, is in finding clients that are venture-backed or likely to be venture-backed. That comes with many years of experience, and even partners still can't always discern it. We look for certain indices of success.

Luckily, since my firm is considered a top-tier practice, clients that are venture-backed or likely to be venture-backed stumble over each other to use our services. But if you were thinking of starting your own shop, it's an uphill battle. Having us represent you is also big for VCs. And many times I'll have clients that need our help in making introductions. But, to be clear, there are only so many lawyers who can do this work and there are a lot of start-ups out there.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:50 pm

DrStudMuffin wrote:Are you more on the VC fund formation side or the start-up side? Any notable QoL differences between the two?
OP.

The latter. I wouldn't know as I haven't don't VC fund formation.

QoL in general is weird to compare. It's better than M&A for sure, and I'm usually able to enjoy the night before a closing for a venture deal. But I'm also on call for basically every partner I work with and all my clients. Sometimes this means taking calls on weekends or at less-than-ideal hours.
If you're doing mostly emerging companies stuff, what do your options look like at this point re: going in-house?

Thanks!
Options look great. Several of my clients have already put out feelers to hire me, but I enjoy what I do a lot, so I'm staying put for now. I think it's great working with start-ups because, if you eventually go in-house to one of them, you have a good feel for the people who will eventually be your bosses. If you have a client that disrespects you constantly, doesn't see the value that you add, and is just generally a shitty person, it would suck to have them be your boss. In many ways it's a two-way interviewing process, and I have the benefit of years of working with them to really see if I could like working under them.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:54 pm

Maybe a bit in the "obvious" category, but the biggest pro and the biggest con is that start-up clients are often not "sophisticated."
OP.

Yes, but after they've done a Series A they get a lot better.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by sinfiery » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:51 pm

OP I would love to do what you are doing but I literally have no idea how to get there. How'd you do it? Is it too late if I've already gone through OCI?

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by sundontshine » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:57 pm

How much do you hate your life and wish you had just studied business in undergrad? Being an attorney sounds miserable.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:00 pm

sinfiery wrote:OP I would love to do what you are doing but I literally have no idea how to get there. How'd you do it? Is it too late if I've already gone through OCI?
OP.

Not hard. Just target those firms as a lateral or a 3L if they're looking for 3Ls.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Oct 24, 2014 11:01 pm

sundontshine wrote:How much do you hate your life and wish you had just studied business in undergrad? Being an attorney sounds miserable.
OP.

I enjoy it a lot. I don't wish I had studied business in college. I do think I'd enjoy actually being a venture capitalist better, but given how hard that is to get into, I'm happy with where I am.

The things that make me hate my life at my job are few and far between.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:00 am

I'm a patent litigation junior associate. How do I transition into being you?

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:11 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a patent litigation junior associate. How do I transition into being you?
OP.

Start the lateral process ASAP into a firm that specializes in this and has a need for VC/start-up lawyers. You'll probably have to start again as a first year, but that's a sacrifice you'll have to take.

I don't think you'll have much success, though. Your best bet is probably to lateral into the above firm as a tech transactions associate and then do an internal transfer into corporate. A little more weird path, but probably your best bet.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 12:16 am

Would you be willing to PM me? I've got some more specific questions. Thanks!

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Sgt Pepper » Sat Oct 25, 2014 7:28 pm

Do you have any idea what the VC market is like in southern California? Or if "silicon beach" is really becoming a big thing at all?

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by bk1 » Sat Oct 25, 2014 7:29 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Would you be willing to PM me? I've got some more specific questions. Thanks!
FYI: You cannot be PMed if anon.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 8:55 pm

Sgt Pepper wrote:Do you have any idea what the VC market is like in southern California? Or if "silicon beach" is really becoming a big thing at all?
OP.

VC market is great in SoCal. Three of the four major firms that dominate this market (WSGR, Cooley and Gunderson) have offices in Los Angeles and San Diego, which is proof enough. There's a strong ecosystem, many bluechip start-ups that have come from there. On the actual fund front, the most prestigious VCs will always be on Sand Hill Road, and there's nothing changing that. But there are good VCs in SoCal as well.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Dr Clifford Huxtable » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:26 pm

If you had to map a general/most efficient path for how to get into VS/Start-Up law starting as a 1L, what would it be?

Thanks for making this thread by the way.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:33 pm

If you had to map a general/most efficient path for how to get into VS/Start-Up law starting as a 1L, what would it be?
OP.

Same path you would use to work at any other big law firm. Go to a good school, get good grades, and then bid and interview at the right firms at OCI instead of masturbating to vault rankings.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
If you had to map a general/most efficient path for how to get into VS/Start-Up law starting as a 1L, what would it be?
OP.

Same path you would use to work at any other big law firm. Go to a good school, get good grades, and then bid and interview at the right firms at OCI instead of masturbating to vault rankings.
What are some 1L summer jobs you've seen that look particularly impressive on candidates' resumes during OCI? What are some you've seen that are less than impressive?

Likewise, what are some things candidates have said or done during OCI that have impressed you, and what are some things that have turned you off of a candidate?

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:36 am

OP.
What are some 1L summer jobs you've seen that look particularly impressive on candidates' resumes during OCI? What are some you've seen that are less than impressive?
In general, you can consult other threads for this information. In my opinion, anything legally related for 1L summer is fine.

I've seen candidates work for tech startups or major tech companies like Google, Facebook, etc. That helps, I think, in the story you can convey.

But don't overthink it. I wasn't gunning for this job the day I was born. And I didn't realize I wanted it until I was midway through my first year in big law.

Likewise, what are some things candidates have said or done during OCI that have impressed you, and what are some things that have turned you off of a candidate?

You can consult the numerous other threads on this topic. There's nothing particular to interviewing at my law firm or other firms that specialize in this space that distinguishes interviewing with us from interviewing with other firms.

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:57 pm

Any thoughts on Goodwin Procter?

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Re: Venture Capital/Start-Up Lawyer, AMAA

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:08 pm

I'm a junior at WSGR/Goodwin/Cooley/Fenwick/etc and happy to answer questions if anyone wants the perspective of someone who is relatively new to the practice area.

So far I like it, but it's a steep learning curve for a junior IMO unless you have a biz background. As others have said, you are more involved with the client's actual business and need to learn how it works. For example, I've done a lot of diligence on licensing/IP issues and have had to pick that stuff up as I go along with the other things you have to learn as a junior.

One thing that also sucks as a junior is these clients can be very unorganized. When youre doing a disclosure schedule, for example, you will often have to more or less harass clients to get you certain documents/contracts. On the company side, there is rarely an in house lawyer to work with on these kinda of things, which can get annoying.

It's fun, though. Would definitely recommend. Feel very optimistic about exit ops and general career prospects, but obviously all of that is susceptible to market fluctuations and what not. Hoping there's not another dot com crash!

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