Engaging legal counsel – pre raise

For founders, all things business – from the problem to the solution to the finances – will likely be in hand before they go looking for a raise. But when it comes to the legal side of things, it can get a bit more daunting. In this video, Octopus Ventures Legal Counsel, Mary Sullivan and Andy Fahrenheim, explain what founders should be looking for in external counsel when thinking about a raise – and what to keep in mind before the fundraising process begins.

Some tips on engaging external legal counsel:

  • When you start looking for counsel, remember that most law firms will happily take a phone call from a founder who’s just starting out, and most won’t charge for this. It’s also worth asking your contacts for recommendations.
  • Keep an eye on LinkedIn: law firms sometimes post about what they’ve completed and it’s a good way to spot synergies.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask investors for their opinions, as they’ll know which firms are good to deal with.
  • Before engaging external counsel, make sure the firm is reputable and check the partner at the firm has clients in a similar space, paying particular attention to industry, size and stage.
  • Lean on your counsel for market norms. Ask for their help and mine their expertise, for example with timelines.
  • Keep track of everything, from your contracts to your cap table, to your corporate structure documents. Keeping a thorough record of how you’ve built up your business means that when you come to raise, investors can understand exactly how your business works.
  • When a law firm helps you at the start, it’s easy to feel loyalty towards them. But they won’t necessarily have the expertise to support you as things grow more complicated. Don’t be afraid to explore other options as your business develops.

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