We’re nearing 1,000 submissions from startup founders and leaders in Silicon Valley and across the world about the best early-stage tech lawyers to work with. As we’ve sorted through survey responses and begun scheduling interviews with the first qualified nominees, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions. We love questions.
First of all, why are we creating a living list of great tech startup lawyers? Lawyers don’t create startups, but they can help great startups succeed. They can also kill promising ventures before they have time to get off the ground. Who you use as your lawyer matters, and yet, there are no great resources to help early-stage founders navigate this decision.
Need more detail before you take the survey? Read on.
A living list
We are not making a listicle or an occasional ranking like what you might see on other news sites or legal review services. Instead, we are making a living body of knowledge about service providers by and for people who are building companies. This survey will be staying open indefinitely and we’ll be updating our findings whenever we have enough feedback from our community about an individual lawyer. Ultimately, we will add as many lawyers as there are lawyers in the world who qualify.
We are just beginning what will be a continuous process. Each additional recommendation will help you know more about who to hire to help you with your work.
We are interested in featuring lawyers who are today heavily focused on early-stage technology startups. We realize that “early-stage” can mean multiple funding rounds and many, many millions of dollars, so we are not drawing hard boundaries. As a rule of thumb, think of startups in the process of finding product-market fit and/or a scalable business model, and are maybe even in the early stages of growth.
We realize that attorneys who have succeeded with early-stage companies over the years will themselves often move into later-stage legal work. We’re happy to hear about these folks — particularly what they have done for a company in key early moments — but we know they’re often busy and will take on few if any young companies today.
We’re happy to feature them when relevant, but we’ll also note that if you’re looking for the overall top technology lawyers in Silicon Valley or elsewhere, you should really be checking out Chambers and Partners, Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, The American Lawyer, National Law Journal and the numerous other established sources for lawyer rankings.
“Tech” has been heavily abused by marketers in recent years. If you’re leaving a review as a founder, but you’re not clearly building some sort of meaningful technology yourself, we will likely discard your recommendation. There are plenty of great lawyers out there who can assist with starting a business, who are not going to be familiar with the myriad challenges that a startup faces when it attempts meaningful technology innovation.
We’re open to submissions about lawyers working anywhere in the world. As the tech industry has gone global, locally focused attorneys have helped nurture their startup hubs and develop new crops of successful companies. Based on our survey results so far, we’re going to be featuring a geographically broad range of people to help the next generation of entrepreneurs get the best support from people who understand their surroundings.
Online legal services
While traditional law firms continue to be the preferred route for many founders, especially when they scale into the later stages of company-building, we’ve gotten a number of strong recommendations about attorneys working through software-enabled services. We see this as an important part of the future of the industry — if you’ve had a great experience, let us know about both the lawyer and the product they’re working within.
Attorneys who haven’t made partner (yet)
While submissions to date tend to focus on lawyers who have already made partner at larger firms, or have founded their own established operations, we have also gotten glowing recommendations about folks who are earlier in their careers. Like companies themselves, the top lawyers of tomorrow are working hard to get there today — so we very much want to hear about them now. Maybe we can even help them get to the top faster?
Remember, we invite any lawyer who is actively working with early-stage technology companies anywhere in the world to share this survey with their clients.