How to Buy Legal Services
as a Startup

Old school

  • A lawyer is the almighty, know-it-all person, with a monopoly over access to legal information and knowledge, who may upon your humble request provide you with legal advice (subject to a hefty fee)
  • Law Business: Law-centred approach

Lady Justice
(or an old-school lawyer,
who can’t see the customer and its business…)

New School

  • Legal information now available to everyone online, i.e. no more monopoly
  • A lawyer can no longer only sell this legal information
  • Business Law: Business-centred approach, a.k.a “client-centered business”

So what? What’s in it for me?

Old school

  • The lawyer can dictate the terms of the collaboration

New school

  • Your business dictates the terms
  • But you need to understand the dynamics of legal services


What to buy?

You can (and should) google stuff to become well informed and understand what you need (else the lawyer may sell you all the fancy, but very expensive stuff you don’t even need…)

How to buy?

You should buy expertise, not the lawyer’s hours (unless your business for some reason relates to buying and selling lawyers’ hours…)

From whom to buy?

You can (and should) google your lawyer to ensure she/he is a good fit for you and your business (e.g. if your in tech, it’s much nicer to work with a lawyer who understands tech…)

When to buy?

You can (and should) apply some readily available tools to handle some matters and only buy what you really can’t live without (and even leave some things undone, but don’t quote me on that…)

What to buy?

Buy strategic advice

Strategic advice is legal advice that takes your business into account, meaning it actually tackles the challenges of your business and enables you to implement the advice in practice.

Don't settle for LEGAL advice only

A lawyer’s advice must always be legally accurate, but this is a default feature. Don’t let any lawyer make “legal accuracy” a key selling point, because it’s not.

Buy only the level of detail
you actually need​

  • A contract sets the boundaries, within which the parties are free to move. The more detailed the terms, the less room to freestyle. 
  • Business critical elements likely require greater detail. In other areas you can usually make do with a lower level of detail.
  • Are you selling a pizza or the cooling system for a nuclear plant? The buyer of the pizza will likely tolerate freestyling more than the buyer of the cooling system…

There is no such thing as a perfect contract, so don’t try to buy one (even if the lawyer offers you one…)

From whom to buy?

Share information
with your lawyer

  • Strategic advice and assessing the level of detail requires business data
  • Involve your lawyer in the business, for example, as secretary of the board, granting insight into the direction of the business
  • Sharing of information enables the lawyer to be proactive, instead of only reacting to what has already been decided (or even worse, already done)

If the lawyer doesn’t start with in-depth qeustions about your business, go elsewhere

How to buy?

If you want hours,
pay for hours

If you want value,
pay for value

Is the hourly fee dead?

  • Economist: “May inhibit efficiency”
  • My 9-year old kid: “Better to work slowly then…”
  • Pay for expertise and the expert’s time spent using the right tools, not for creating the tool (especially not for creating it not over and over again, i.e. writing the same document)

If hourly fee is used, assess the level of manual work needed

  • Ask what assisting and automation tools the lawyer uses to make the work efficient. This forces the lawyer to disclose what manual work is involved. Old school or new school?

Looks a bit old school to me…

When to buy?

Buy what you can’t live without

Common feeling:

“Need everything, can’t afford anything. Must do something, but don’t know where to start”

What is actually needed right now to not break any laws?

Play the go-to-jail game:

Go-to-jail risk: High – Cost: Low
– Do it immediately

Go-to-jail risk: Low – Cost: High
– Maybe it can wait a while…

Mandatory disclaimer: Naturally, you shall not break any laws. But this method can help you prioritise items on your legal shopping list

What you just experienced is the MVP of MK-Law’s new portal for startups

Our goal is to make this the ideal place for you to find information that is understandable and relevant to your startup venture (meaning you spend less time googling stuff). Contents will include handy “Dos and Don’ts” on topics such as financing rounds, SHAs and incentive programmes. Beware: We may even write about taxation…

Subscribe now, so you won’t miss any update:


Or contact me directly:

Entrepreneur at heart, lawyer by trade. Combine these two and you get an attorney with a true interest in the hard-working spirits driving the ventures forward. With over 15 years of experience, I am always happy to share my insight with businesses in all stages (and even provide some good ol’ legal advice).

My stats:

  • IPOs: One and counting…
  • Financing rounds: Usually appears on my to-do list every month…
  • Incentive programmes: Also a monthly thing…
  • Shareholders’ agreements: Almost a weekly chore…”