Role of In-house Legal Services For Startup Companies

Role of In-house Legal Services
Role of In-house Legal Services

It is both unique as well as a demanding task to work as an in-house counsel for any startup company provided that you know your role, responsibilities and how to go about it. As far as the role of Inhouse Legal Services is concerned, they are generally responsible to provide a few specific types of services to their clients.

Firstly, they will act as an advisor of the company providing suggestions and guidance to their clients regarding all legal matters that may affect the business. Acting as the legal face of the business, the in-house counsel will deal with the outsider of the company regarding any legal matters. Their services will include handling legal complaints, answering all legal inquiries, and overseeing the entire process. They may also hire an outside counsel as and when required.

Apart from that, they will also offer general counsel services that will include a large number of professional services. These may include, drafting a contract or reviewing it, ensure regulatory compliance, scrutinize and even amend employment contracts and lots more.
The uniqueness

Now, you may think what is so unique about an in-house counsel for a startup entrepreneur. It is that apart from working very closely with the startup entrepreneur, the in-house counsel will also have to wear a number of other hats. It means the counsel lawyer will have to be more flexible as compared to a traditional in-house counsel for any other firms.

  • Apart from the legal matters, the counselor may also be required to handle several other matters that may be non-legal as well.
  • The counselor is also required to be well versed with the various aspects of the business operations, finance and accounting, marketing and sales.

In comparison, the traditional in-house position is somewhat routine involving most of the legal functions of the business to address that may or may not need a professional general counsel lawyer.

For a startup counselor, there are several answers to look for specific questions such as:

  • Is it legal to do a specific task?
  • How can a job be done legally?
  • What are the objectives of the business to understand?

Perhaps the most significant difference between an in-house counsel for a startup and an established business is that in a startup, it is required to find out the best possible ways to deal with an issue while the traditional in-house counsel usually have a tendency to say ‘no’ to specific issues.

Common legal service required

Apart from general counsel litigation there are a few other specific legal services required for a startup.

IP or Intellectual property: (IP)

In contrast to any lifestyle business, most of the startup companies are tech-based. That means in such situations, there are IP rights that need to be abided by. These are critical involving patent and trademark laws but needs to be followed by the venture. The lawyer needs to protect these rights against possible infringements and also assist in licensing of these IP rights.

Employment law:

All startups that need employees to operate must abide by the employment law that involves hiring and firing of an employee, establishing various compensations for employees as well as for the independent contractors. These are complex legal tasks which the counsel has to look after and may also need to hire a professional general counsel attorney for that as well.

Business governance:

In order to meet the financial as well as the operational needs of a startup, the in-house counsel may also have to manage the governance process that may include holding and organizing meetings, record maintenance, complying with disclosure, abiding by the voting rules, and if applicable ensure regulatory reporting.

Business transaction:

This is another aspect that must be looked after which usually involves the startup funds in the form of debt financing and equity. Transactions during merger and acquisition and while making initial public offering mat also needs proper handling and advice by the in-house counsel.

Contracting:

Acting as the chief advisor, the in-house counsel will review all contracts of the startup company. In most of the cases there is a need to draft more definite agreements. Some of the most common forms of contracts that are reviewed by the in-house counsel include lease and sales agreements, service and purchase agreements, financing and licensing agreements, as well as partnerships or joint venture agreements.

Claims support:

Sometimes, startups even extend credit to their clients or customers for services offered and products purchased which sometimes the clients and the customers fail to pay according to the terms and conditions of the debt agreed upon. In such situations the startup may have to start a claims action. The in-house counsel will have

to take part in this matter even if it is as simple as sending a collection letter or selling the debt to a collection agency or for complex processes such as initiating a legal action.

In case a startup company is subject to any legal action the in-house counsel will act as the primary actor to provide the desired litigation support. If it is a small claims case, the person may represent the company but for larger and more extensive litigation, the in-house counsel may need to hire the services of general counsel services India to seek help acting as a one point contact for them.

Therefore, a startup in-house counsel is more involved and need to follow a more organized approach to address litany of varied legal as well as non-legal issues.