Verified Expert Lawyer: Sophie Alcorn


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Sophie Alcorn founded her own immigration-focused boutique law firm a few years ago, that has quickly become a go-to resource for founders and tech workers in the Bay Area and beyond.

While immigration paperwork acceptance rates have been dropping for immigration paperwork under tougher requirements set by the Trump Administration, especially for H-1Bs, Alcorn says her firm is able to get 95% through on H-1Bs, with higher rates for some visa types.

In the interview below, she shares some of the secrets of her success, as well as the challenges she’s overcome in the process of building her own company. You also can find dozens of quotes from satisfied clients at the end.

And, if you, a colleague or loved one is looking to immigrate, she also has written up an article for Extra Crunch that breaks down the wide range of visas that you can choose from. You

fast facts sophie alcorn 1

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It’s open season for poaching talent in Silicon Valley


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Several recent court decisions have changed the landscape of California’s competition law, concluding that employee non-solicitation provisions are per se invalid. These cases have major implications both for mature companies relying on such provisions to preserve their talent pool, and for startups and other companies looking to attract the best people from their competitors.

California law is well-known for favoring open business competition. A fundamental part of this policy is that, unlike the overwhelming majority of other states, California generally does not allow companies to contractually prevent their employees from leaving to join or start a competing business.

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Read the Mueller report here


This post is by Zack Whittaker from TechCrunch


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The Mueller report has been published. It was posted at 11am ET, a month after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his findings to the Justice Department examining Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Per remarks by U.S. attorney general William Barr speaking this morning, there are three major components to the report:

  • How the Russian troll farm, the so-called Internet Research Agency sowed social discord among American voters through disinformation efforts across social media;
  • The involvement of the Russian government’s intelligence unit, the GRU, in hacking into computers belonging to the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to steal documents and emails;
  • And the investigation of the Trump campaign’s links and connections over possible collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election,

We’ve uploaded the final redacted report here. You can read below. You can follow along with TechCrunch’s coverage of the

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New USPTO Guidance May Clear Path for More Technology Patents


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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On January 4, 2019, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released new Patent Examiner Guidance (“the Guidance”) for subject matter eligibility. The updated guidance could benefit any technology patent

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Adam Zagaris


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Adam Zagaris prides himself in being an outside general counsel who helps startups get day-to-day paperwork done efficiently and well — particularly when they are facing off against tough bigger partners. Although he started his career at big Silicon Valley law firms, he has built a streamlined practice at Moonshot Legal in recent years that covers everything from contracts and terms to intellectual property and human resources. 

He gives his no-holds-barred view of his practice and the startup world in the interview below, followed by recommendations from many dozens of startup leaders — he’s racked up one of the highest tallies among the hundreds of lawyers we’ve had recommended in our survey.


On negotiating

“Representing startups for almost 15 years, my job as going head-to-head with the big dogs of the world, making sure that my clients — in a strategic, creative way — get deals done. When

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How to handle dark data compliance risk at your company


This post is by Arman Tabatabai from TechCrunch


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Slack and other consumer-grade productivity tools have been taking off in workplaces large and small — and data governance hasn’t caught up.

Whether it’s litigation, compliance with regulations like GDPR, or concerns about data breaches, legal teams need to account for new types of employee communication. And that’s hard when work is happening across the latest messaging apps and SaaS products, which make data searchability and accessibility more complex.

Here’s a quick look at the problem, followed by our suggestions for best practices at your company.

Problems

The increasing frequency of reported data breaches and expanding jurisdiction of new privacy laws are prompting conversations about dark data and risks at companies of all sizes, even small startups. Data risk discussions necessarily include the risk

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How to delay your Form Ds (or not file them at all)


This post is by Danny Crichton from TechCrunch


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Building a startup is incredibly tough. There are the constant ups and downs, the moments of sheer ambiguity and terror. And so, few moments in a startup’s life are as triumphant — and crystal clear — as closing a round of funding. Yes, yes, raising venture capital shouldn’t be celebrated as a milestone, and the focus should always be on product and users … but it just feels so damn good sometimes just to feel that sense of euphoria: I built something, and now others are giving me potentially millions of dollars to shoot for the stars.

Unfortunately, that clarity is increasingly vanishing. First, “closing a round” is rarely as sharp a distinction as it used to be. Seed rounds (and even later-stage rounds) are often raised over extended periods of time, with many partial closings conducted as new angels and seed funds come to the (cap) table.

Then there

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How to make sure that your product is accessible to all users


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Every founder wants an eye-catching website or app, but it’s easy to overlook a basic fact: not all your potential visitors will experience your content with their eyes. If you haven’t considered whether a user with differing visual, motor or hearing abilities can easily navigate your software, it’s time to get serious about digital accessibility.

As tempting as it might be to prioritize a stunning visual and mobile experience over an accessible design, accessibility is a legal requirement—not an option—for many businesses.

Just ask high-profile founder Beyoncé Knowles. In January, Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment was hit with a class-action lawsuit that includes “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Mike Lincoln


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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In 1999, Mike Lincoln co-founded the first East Coast office of top Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP. Over the last two decades, he has built out the practice to extend well beyond the region, today covering Boston and New York too, while also heading up the firm’s business department, and serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia.

Along the way, he has collected an impassioned group of founder clients, more than two dozen of whom had a lot to tell us about how he has helped them.


On being a startup lawyer:

“[I]f you really believe you can make dreams happen and that you can help create jobs and you can help cure disease and other things that startups do, then your practice will flourish and the money will follow because people will see it in your eyes. They’ll see that you’re passionate about helping to

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Why convertible notes are safer than SAFEs


This post is by David Riggs from TechCrunch


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As the saying goes, where you stand on an issue often rests on where you sit. Translated into startup law and finance, your views on how to approach fundraising are often heavily influenced by where your company and your investors are located. As a startup lawyer at Egan Nelson LLP (E/N), a leading boutique firm focused on tech markets outside of Silicon Valley — like Austin, Seattle, NYC, Denver, etc. — that’s the perspective I bring to this post. 

At a very high level, the three most common financing structures for startup seed rounds across the country are (i) equity, (ii) convertible notes and (iii) SAFEs. Others have come and gone, but never really achieved much traction. As

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Pre- and Post-Money SAFEs: Choosing the right one for your startup


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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With Y Combinator’s Demo Day taking place at Pier 48 in San Francisco next week, its largest batch of companies ever is getting ready to present to an audience of select investors. Having taken Atrium through Demo Day myself, I have first-hand knowledge of the process. When the founders have finished their pitches, the time to talk numbers will closely follow. Chief among the many decisions founders will face during this time is whether to opt for the Pre-Money SAFE or the new Post-Money SAFE, the two standardized legal documents that YC has introduced in recent years.

Both versions are meant to make the process fast, easy and fair for both parties in the early-stage fundraising process. But there are crucial

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Mital Makadia


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Mital Makadia’s legal career began on the East Coast, with Big Law firms, but she moved into early-stage startup work with long-time Silicon Valley boutique Grellas Shah nearly a decade ago. She’ll work with companies on a range of usual startup issues, but she and the firm also focus on individual founder representation (when it comes to that).

As part of the interview below, we got into a conversation about contentious terms in term sheets — and she ended up writing a guest post for us about the biggest gotchas that she sees in Series A docs. Read up on her here, then go check out What To Watch For In A VC Term Sheet.


On the founder focus:

“We approach the practice with a view to protecting the founders. So we’re not looking to please the VCs. And if that means reviewing the transaction a little bit differently then

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Jared Verzello


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch is profiling great startup lawyers wherever they may be working — and that includes within new companies built from the ground up around tech. Today, we’re interviewing Jared Verzello of Atrium. While even the most old-line of law firms have begun integrating document automation and analysis software, Atrium started that way. Around two years old, it’s both a full-service corporate law firm, Atrium LLP, and a technology startup, Atrium Legal Technology Services, that focuses on building tech for its clients and lawyers.

For his part, Verzello joined Atrium 18 months ago from Silicon Valley law firm Cooley LLP, and heads up the seed stage practice. In the interview below, he tells us how he got into this position, how he works with startups from within Atrium, and trends he’s seeing in the market today.


On common founder mistakes:

“Having represented over 20% of Y Combinator (YC) companies for the

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Startup Law A to Z: Customer Contracts


This post is by Daniel McKenzie from TechCrunch


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Your startup needs customers to survive. If and when you make sales or generate installs, you are wading into the fast moving stream of commerce and exposing yourself to risk. Well-drafted customer contracts limit your liability and create legally enforceable rights to get paid for your work. In fact, contracts are actually dispute prevention mechanisms, forcing parties on either side to clearly define what is supposed to happen in advance, aligning expectations and increasing the likelihood that all goes according to plan.

So developing a working understanding of contracts generally, a deep understanding of your core customer contracts specifically, and hiring a competent lawyer to draft key contracts from the beginning, together represent an investment that will pay dividends over the life of your startup.

This article, the third in Extra Crunch’s exclusive “Startup Law A to Z” series, follows previous articles on intellectual property (IP) and corporate matters. If

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Verified Expert Lawyer: Sam Angus


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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Sam Angus has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since the 1990s. Today, he represents some of the biggest names in the startup world, from their earliest days through acquisitions and IPOs, and including four acquisitions last year: TSheets, GitHub, Glint and HelloSign.

But his startup experience actually goes back to the 1980s, when he and some friends built a booming calendar publishing business out of their dorm room during college. In the interview below, he tells us about the ups and downs of the tech industry over the decades, how he helps clients through the good times and bad, and how he works within Fenwick & West, one of the leading tech law firms in tech. We also discuss long-term trends, like the shift towards founder-friendly terms in this era versus past decades in the Valley.


On early-stage problems:

“I’ve represented hundreds of early-stage companies. It is not

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Verified Expert Lawyer: José Ancer


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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José Ancer is first of all a startup lawyer, with a client portfolio of startups of various stages based around Texas and other similar ecosystems outside of Silicon Valley. He’s also the CTO of Egan Nelson LLP, a boutique firm, where he actively is also building automation software to help the firm compete against larger firms. He also writes on his blog “Silicon Hills Lawyer” publicly and pointedly about his profession — and often takes shots at certain practices common among startup law firms, including Silicon Valley firms. You can get a sense of what’s in the full interview via these excerpts.


On not being “owned” by VCs and repeat players

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         “José has a depth of expertise in startup/company formation/funding issues and is very founder-friendly. He was able to guide us through our seed stage while staying efficient and keeping the billing reasonable.”                           <cite>Mary Haskett, Austin, <div class="post-limited-image"><img class="aligncenter vertical wp-image-1787535" src="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png" alt="" width="729" height="864" srcset="https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png 2200w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=127,150 127w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=253,300 253w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=768,910 768w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=574,680 574w, https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/overview-jose-ancer.png?resize=42,50 42w" sizes="(max-width: 729px) 100vw, 729px" /></div>

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Introducing the Verified Experts of Extra Crunch


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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TechCrunch is launching something a little different today. We’re going to help startup founders find the best outside experts to work with — so you can build a better company, faster.

From lawyers to accountants to executive coaches and a dozen more categories, the mesh network of service providers in Silicon Valley and other startup ecosystems is a vital part of how companies succeed.

But many early-stage founders don’t even know that this sort of help exists. Or maybe, you think you don’t need help yet. Or maybe, you know you need help — you just aren’t finding the right people through your own network.

Starting today, with our coverage of startup lawyers and startup law, we are beginning a long-term effort to solve these problems. It’s part of Extra Crunch, our new membership program that we launched last week.

Here’s what’s coming today, and beyond.

The verified experts

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Meet a great startup lawyer: Cynthia Hess


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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In late December, we launched our startup lawyer survey and to date we’ve received more than 1700 responses from startup leaders about hundreds of lawyers around the country and the world.

“Cynthia just gets it! She has ‘your’ hat on. She is not just doing a transaction. She is representing and working for you. Amazing!” Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of hint, inc.

Today we begin to publish the results of that survey, beginning with our first verified expert, a seasoned Silicon Valley attorney who has been working with all sizes of companies for two decades.

Cynthia Clarfield Hess has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since 2000, working with all sizes of companies across their needs from company formation on. While you may see her name on various legal rankings services, she still splits her time between all stages of clients. 

Read on for more from Cynthia

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How and why you should work with a startup lawyer


This post is by Daniel McKenzie from TechCrunch


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Ask any attorney what kind of lawyer they are and they’re likely to respond, “the good kind.” Certainly, there are “good” lawyers and there are “bad” lawyers, but aside from avoiding the truly unscrupulous scriveners, much of the issue here is simply making sure you have grabbed the right tool for the job and by selecting counsel knowledgeable in matters pertinent to your situation. That’s ultimately on you.

Beyond that, founders need to understand that there are also “good” clients and “bad” clients — lawyers want the former. It might even be said that good clients on average receive higher quality and more consistent legal services at a lower overall cost than do bad clients; so it is certainly worth the effort to engage with your lawyer thoughtfully. I say this both as an attorney myself and the co-founder of a venture-backed startup that ultimately made it across the

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How we’re finding the best lawyers for early-stage startups


This post is by Eric Eldon from TechCrunch


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We’re nearing 1,000 submissions from startup founders and leaders in Silicon Valley and across the world about the best early-stage tech lawyers to work with. As we’ve sorted through survey responses and begun scheduling interviews with the first qualified nominees, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions. We love questions.

First of all, why are we creating a living list of great tech startup lawyers? Lawyers don’t create startups, but they can help great startups succeed. They can also kill promising ventures before they have time to get off the ground. Who you use as your lawyer matters, and yet, there are no great resources to help early-stage founders navigate this decision.

Need more detail before you take the survey? Read on.

A living list

We are not making a listicle or an occasional ranking like what you might see on other news sites or legal review services. Instead, we are

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