Do-it-yourself lawyering is a lot like do-it-yourself plumbing. If you’re handy and all goes well, it is possible to do it on your own and save some cash. But if you get it wrong, things will get messy, and you may end swimming in a river of–well–you can guess.
That said, I strongly support open sourcing for legal documents, because each of us should be empowered to make choices armed with as much information as possible. In that vein, here’s a link to this VC Cafe piece, which provides an excellent list of free online legal documents.
And here is a link to a slideshow I put together for a Meetup outlining the different types of documents startups should consider.
As for legal blogs, most of the best sites I’ve found aren’t updated very frequently. Nonetheless, here are the best of the bunch.
1) Wilson Sonsini attorney, Yokum Taku’s, site is an excellent resource over at Startup Company Lawyer.
2) Ryan Roberts has lots of great articles at his site.
3) The Grellas law firm in California has a fantastic FAQ series for founders and small business owners.
4) Joe Wallin of Davis Wright Tremaine has some helpful stuff at the startup law blog.
5) Last but not least, Walker Corporate Law’s site is chock-full of good articles, features an “ask the Lawyer” service, and is still regularly updated with new and useful information.
Resources for Starting a Business
One of the great things about startup culture is that it is intimately linked to the open-source movement. The startup community values free and open information. And, much in the same way the internet is replete with free resources for newbies learning Python and Ruby on Rails, so too are there ample resources for entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses.
The most comprehensive list of startup resources I’ve seen has been compiled by Steve Blank, VC and professor at Stanford, Cal-Berkeley, and Columbia. He is the quintessential expert among experts. You could easily spend a month just reading all the resources on his site and never lack for new and useful information. This website is particularly useful for tech companies, but also very helpful for anyone looking to start a business of any persuasion.
Another useful place to get started is LinkedIn CEO Eric Reis’s site detailing “the Lean Startup method.“ This method is a proven technique for immediately engaging potential customers to determine if there is demand for your business or product.
In Colorado (and elsewhere), Brad Feld is “the man.” A serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Foundry Group, he has mastered every aspect of the startup, from technical to legal to management, and every nuance in between. If you’re looking to start a business and attract funding in Colorado, it behooves you to understand Mr. Feld’s perspective and frequent his site. There’s no mystery to what he’s looking for in companies he wants to fund. He is transparent and straightforward in his dealings and methods. If you have a firm grasp on all the concepts explained on this site, the only thing left to do is to get out there and execute.