What are the most common legal questions that founders have?

Ronan Levy Entrepreneur, Advisor, Lawyer

April 2nd, 2013

I'm working on a startup in the legal space and one way I'd like to build awareness is to have a resource that answers common legal questions that many entrepreneurs have. Some topics I have come up with include: 

- what should I look for in an NDA?
- what should I do if I receive a threatening letter from another business or lawyer? 
- how can I fire someone? 
- when should I prepare a shareholders' agreement? 
- what do I really need to know about privacy law? 
- what should I cover in my terms of service? 
- what's an indemnity and should I worry about it? 
- how do I acquire a domain that is already registered? 
- does governing law/jurisdiction really matter? 

Those are just the ideas I had, but I'd rather hear it from other entrepreneurs than from my brain alone.

If it helps, I'm actually a practicing lawyer in Toronto, Ontario (and work with many startups) so feel free to use this as an opportunity to ask any questions you may have, and I'll try to help you out as best I can (in gratitude for your help.)



Robert H Lee

April 2nd, 2013

Hi Ronan

I work with legal tech startups with my dept at Stanford, codex.stanford.edu

Do you know Monica Goyal of My Legal Briefcase in Toronto?

You should try to come to our conference April 26


April 2nd, 2013

- What's the cheapest way to file a patent?

Manav Kataria Passionately Building Software & Technology

April 2nd, 2013

Fantastic Discussion! Looking forward to the answers.

Shehzad Daredia Co-founder at bop.fm. iOS Devs: Join the founding team! https://t.co/OWdOwRapF0

April 2nd, 2013

whats the cheapest/best way to incorporate?

whats the cheapest/best way to arrange angel/seed funding docs?

Alan Peters VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks

April 2nd, 2013

I would love to see another whole category on topics related to investment.

Ed Levinson Business Development Consultant for Early Stage Technology Companies

April 2nd, 2013

Ronan, Some of your questions are answered here http://contractual.ly Ed Ed Levinson Analusis Consulting Inc. ed.levinson@analusis.ca 604.720.3190 skype:EdLevinson

Michael Hanson Entrepreneur in Residence at Greylock Partners

April 2nd, 2013

Sounds like a good idea. I'd have a section on incorporation for US companies -- is "Delaware really that important? (yes)" "Why?" Perhaps that was your intent with the governing law question. It would be wise to have a brief section on source code licensing. "Do I need to worry when I use open source? (probably not, but)", and perhaps, "Are there any red flags to watch for in source code licensing from a vendor or consultant?" Perhaps a bit on whether/when D&O insurance is important. And a bit on hiring: the basics on non-discrimination, how to offer equity, etc. Getting into ISOs, ESOPs and all that is probably out of scope but perhaps a quick-and-dirty set of FAQs would be good. Best, -Mike Hanson (EIR at Greylock Partners)

Bill Kelley

April 2nd, 2013

I think it's a great idea. I'd like to propose another agreement based on bitter experience: 

-- pre-incorporation ownership share distribution.  
-- agreement that ideation is a company/corporate asset by prior agreement

Many companies start out around a cocktail napkin sketch. My experience is that it's never too early to identify roles, contributions and ownership intent. Also important is "exit planning" e.g., how a founding partner can be compensated should he/she leave, and what that compensation would be based on.