Entrepreneurs face many legal challenges when starting a business. From writing a business plan, to determining which corporate structure is best and scraping together enough money to file the appropriate documents, starting a business is easier said than done.With attorneys charging as much $750/hr. to set up a business, and online legal documentation services like LegalZoom.com offering so many options that it's difficult to know where to begin, what's a confused and strapped-for-cash entrepreneur to do?
Enter the Tech Law Project -- a pro bono legal services venture that aspires to help high-tech entrepreneurs answer the most basic business formation questions. Then, at no cost to the start-up, prepare and file articles of incorporation, corporate by-laws, operating agreements and more. Founded in mid-October by New York City-based attorneys Hayes Ellisen and Eli Shahmoon, TLP seeks to work with serious tech-focused entrepreneurs only (no half-baked ideas allowed), saving them as much $5,000 in initial business formation-related start-up costs.
"Technology startups are a major engine driving job growth in today's economy," says Shahmoon. "Legal costs, however, may lead founders to not seek legal advice in the critical formative stages of a company. This can cause early errors that may interfere with the company's growth and financing opportunities."
Ellisen, whose going rate is $385/hr., says he and Shahmoon have been fortunate throughout their legal careers and that now's a good time for them to give back via the Tech Law Project.
That said, it's important to note that technically, TLP is not a standalone operation. Many law firms offer pro bono legal services to a particular niche under the moniker of a "project," which is exactly what Shahmoon & Ellisen LLP have done with TLP. Upon acceptance into the project, TLP participants are actually signing a letter of engagement for pro bono services from Shahmoon & Ellisen LLP, not the Tech Law Project.
Programs like the Tech Law Project may reveal a growing trend in professional services. With the capacity to handle up to 20 entrepreneurs at a time, it seems to make sense that if TLP does a great job for its start-ups and entrepreneurs, those same businesses are going to reward Shahmoon & Ellisen LLP with their long-term legal business.
For more information visit www.TechLawProject.com or Shahmoon & Ellisen LLP.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.