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At what point should my startup engage a law firm?

Ideally, pre-seed, said Chuck Cotter, co-chair of the food and beverage committee at Holland & Hart LLP, during a presentation at Natural Products Business School at Expo West 2016.

“We like to get involved as early as possible—the rationale being you will be cleaner and easier to market to investor, and we’ll usually keep you out of trouble,” he said.

Many firms, especially those that specialize in working with small businesses, realize that costs might be prohibitive for young companies. So they adjust the way their billing works by, say, deferring fees, offering flat rate fees or not billing for impromptu phone calls.

If it’s not possible to get a lawyer at that point, Cotter suggested definitely doing so before you sell securities or sign a co-manufacturing agreement, so they can help you understand the implications of those contracts.

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