Entrepreneurs · Legal

Biggest Frustrations with Lawyers and the Law

Ronan Levy Entrepreneur, Advisor, Lawyer

May 24th, 2013

Catharsis Alert: Answering this question may make you feel better by enabling you to vent your frustrations, and will help me in my product development. I know most entrepreneurs love to complain about lawyers in private, so here's chance to do it in public too. 

Let's face it. For most entrepreneurs, having to deal with legal issues and lawyers often, well, sucks. Hell, I'm a lawyer and I know that to be the case. So I'm currently working on a venture to try and make that whole experience suck less. We've got a number of unique product features and attributes in mind, but we want to stay lean and build an MVP that de-sucks legal experiences the most with the least amount of effort. 

So hit me up. What are your biggest frustrations with legal services? Is it: 

- expense? 
- difficulty finding a lawyer? 
- poor service? 
- that the service is ok, but that for the price you expect more (i.e. value)? 
- that lawyers tend to be deal killers as opposed to deal makers? 
- general lack of understanding of legal issues? 
- second guessing whether your lawyer is "right" for you? 
- doubting the quality of legal advice received? 
- other? 

All complaints, beefs and attitude welcome. Thanks so much for your feedback. I hope to be able to return the favour by helping you have better legal experiences in the future. And if you have any high level legal questions, I'm happy to discuss them with you. 


Jonathan Vanasco

May 24th, 2013

1. Culture Clash.  Entrepreneurs take risks, Lawyers avoid risks.  I don't want a lawyer billing me for 12 hours of telling me not to do something (or how to do something), and then listing all the reasons why I shouldn't.  I'm going to do it - the company needs to do it.  I just want to know the "worst case scenario" of liabilities.  

2. Lawyers give advice, you don't have to take it.  Don't make me think I need to do something, and remind me that it's just advice.  A lawyer isn't okay with a .001% chance of risk.  I'm fine with a 49% chance of risk.  

3. Not everything should be a billable hour and you need to be cost conscious.   I've worked with small law firms and also some of the best firms in the country.  The billing standards are all over the place, and some are outright ridiculous.

 i) If I have a labor law question, and you can't answer it, it is absolutely offensive to give me a 3hour bill for a 90minute conversation you had with another partner at the firm ( charging 90minutes for each).  Charge me for his time or your time.  

  ii) If you don't know how to do a specific contract that SHOULD be a standard form at your firm, don't try to charge me for it.   Example: Law Firm A , which charged $300/hr, never did a Reverse Stock Purchase Plan or other common startup forms, they quoted me a flat fee of $10,000 to research and draft all our needed corporate forms;  we went with Law Firm B , who charged $750/hr, but had everything done already.  Most of the work was even handled by paralegals and associates who billed 1/2 and 1/4 the cost.   Total expense: $1900.

   iii) i read my bills.  charging me 30minutes of Paralegal time at $150/hr for them to enter in a "Reminder" on your calendar to call me ; or for them to process your inbound mail ?  that's getting redlined and you're losing a customer. 

@Michael - if a seed investor wants a full patent , just stop pursuing them.  It costs at least $10k to have a competent attorney simply file a non-provisional patent application - you're then looking at a period of 3-8 years , and $15-$80k in additional fees during the Examination / Prosecution process for it to be allowed.  And then you have issuance and maintenance fees.  

Michael Barnathan

May 24th, 2013

Expense is a big one. I've had seed investors insist that we secure a full patent before they are willing to fund my (medical diagnostic) product. We secured a provisional easily, but that wasn't enough for the investors.

Unfortunately, securing a patent is a $10k+ ordeal due to legal costs. Making that cheap enough for entrepreneurs to fund before they raise would be a big boon, since what we went through at the end became a ridiculously circular dependency.

Mark Piekny Engineer, Consultant & Entrepreneur

May 24th, 2013

Value. Sent from my Virgin Mobile Android-Powered Device