Start-ups and Lawyers

Start-ups are popping up everywhere; however, the unfortunate truth of the matter is that approximately 90% of start-ups fail.

While there is no exact recipe for success, a way to help yourself is to get all your proverbial ducks in a row before opening the gate. Once you have your business plan in place and all necessary funding ready, it’s time to contact a Lawyer.

The reasons for getting a lawyer early on are numerous. Lawyers can assist in ensuring that your company abides by legal requirements, including registration with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission; and drafting employment contracts and software license agreements. The list goes on and on.

So what should you look for in a Lawyer?


Money is a primary concern for start-ups. Lawyers that operate in the business law often do not work on a contingency basis. Therefore, the first thing to look for in a lawyer is their fees. Ask for a fee agreement which sets out their hourly rate, drafting fees, travel expenses, etc. This will give you an estimate of costs. A smaller or “boutique” law firm will often charge a smaller overhead than larger commercial firms.

Experience and skill set

You should consider the experience and skill set of not just the lawyer you meet with, but of the firm as a whole. There are numerous laws that apply to start-ups, so a broad skill set within a firm can prevent you from having to deal with multiple firms and legal bills.  

Knowledge of the industry

Having a skilled lawyer who has knowledge of the industry in which the start-up will enter is a powerful combination as they will know the barriers blocking entry to the market and common legal issues that arise in the industry. They will also know which specialised laws apply to your business; in other words, they won’t miss a thing. 

When launching your start-up, funding is often tight and lawyers’ fees do not make the priority list. Many are tempted to not get a lawyer until one of 100% necessary, so to “save money”.

Just remember, legal advice costs less than lawsuits and litigation.

For more information, contact Du Toit’s Attorneys Personal & Professional Legal Services.