They can handle pitching to a room full of investors and juggling the needs of thousands of users, but when it comes to legal obstacles, startup founders often get intimidated fast.
It can be hard to find a lawyer who knows founders well enough to anticipate their needs and make legal jargon understandable. If you also consider the fact that lawyers charge high hourly rates whether or not their clients understand what they're saying, it makes sense that founders prefer to steer clear of those in the legal profession for as long as they can.
It's no surprise that when Jason offered to sit down with users of the Portland Startups Switchboard and give them free legal advice, they jumped at the chance.
Why did you start using the PDX Startups Switchboard?
Switchboard appeared to be an obvious tool to connect with the Portland Startup community. Although I'm not with a startup, the startup attorneys in Portland understand that it's important to connect with and contribute to the community. This seemed like a great way to do it!
You offered free legal advice to local startups. How did that go?
I had never offered anything quite like this before to the public. I was nervous putting myself out there, because above all I wanted to provide a good experience to everyone. Switchboard seemed like a great place because it engenders some level of honest communication, and people can communicate with sincerity.
I know that startup entrepreneurs are sometimes trepidatious about talking to a lawyer because of the grab-bag of stereotypes attributed to the profession. It's a very important stage early on in business, and I had no doubt that there were at least 10 companies out there that knew they needed a lawyer but had not seen one. Also, the startup community has done so much for me early on in my career. I wanted to give something back.
The first thing I noticed when I made the post was support from the community. After that, appointments started trickling in through the link I provided. Within five days, the appointments were filled. Everyone that had an appointment with me was very nice, showed up on time, and was very interested in learning more about current/potential legal issues. It was a lot of fun.
Would you recommend the PDX Startups Switchboard to friends?
Yes. There is an active community in Portland, and Switchboard is one place it convenes. I've had great experiences with it so far, so I would want others to have that as well. Even friends that are not involved in startups can contribute and get benefit from the PDX Startups Switchboard.