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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Fucking Lawyers

Comments (15)

If you are an entrepreneur, I expect you’ve shouted this (or at least thought it ) sometime during your time on this planet.  My partner, and ex-lawyer, Jason Mendelson has a fantastic rant up titled Why Start-up Lawyers Frustrate MeHe provides a detailed look on his two gripes: pricing and execution.

While "some of my best friends are lawyers", I couldn’t agree more with Jason’s post.  I’m looking forward to Jason’s equivalent of "fucking accountants" post which is hopefully coming soon.

  • Shane

    My favorite fucking lawyer experience is when they send you back your articles of incorporation along with a $5k bill, and come across the name of some other company sprinkled throughout the doc. For $300 / hr., you'd think they could learn how to copy and paste ;)

  • http://jaxn.org Jackson Miller

    How about “Fucking Commercial Real Estate Brokers”

    • http://www.feld.com Brad Feld

      You mean you don’t think you get your incremental 6% of value from them. Ahem – er – yup.

      • Mezus

        What kind of moron pays a commercial real estate broker 6%? Of course, they would be worth 6% if you paid them that, otherwise you wouldn't have taken the deal.

  • http://www.venturevoice.com Greg

    I liked that article a lot, but I like your title for it much more. Would Dan have let Jason use that in PE Hub?

  • http://realitymarkets.com Brad Stewart

    Recently I asked my attorney if he could help me out with some research that was outside his main practice. He told me he would look into it before he got into billable hours. I guess he decided it was in his area after he sent me a bill for $700 and web snippets I already knew about. Useless.

  • Robert Dunn

    Boy I could vent on this. My primary frustration comes from the fact that there seems to be no structural incentive for attorneys to do their work more efficiently. I have worked with many of law firms in the Valley, and it seems that they cannot envision a way to do an incorporation (with all the key docs), or a financing round more efficiently (i.e. less billable hours). Even when I tell them to use standard terms, and say “we are willing to do some of the leg work,” somehow the price can't go below $40K. When I get the bill, often it is Buffy or Jimmy, one year out of law school, who “drafted” the agreements. (Really!! Buffy drafted the Series A documents all by her self? No, Buffy did 'find and replace', somehow took 30 hours, and then had to have everything reviewed by the Partner because she doesn't really know what she is doing – oh, and the Partner's rate is $600 an hour.) Ideally, I think that VCs should request that model agreements be used (at least as the starting point) for the financing rounds, and the VC and the start-up should agree on incentives to keep the legal fees low (the current system of the start-up having to pay the bill for both law firms, cut is only able to control one of the two firms is dysfunctional, in my opinion).

  • Aziz Grieser

    Brad, so damned tactful, I love it. My favorite lawyer experience was told by a friend of mine, a founder of kiptronic, in San Francisco. He said he was staring across the table at his new lawyer, ($500/hour), and was so bored by the discussion and pissed by the last bill, that he started counting the seconds the lawyer would go, “ummmmm”, “ahhhh”, “welllll”, “hmmmmm”, and thoughtful pauses. $500/hour, works out to $8.33/minute, and he counted a full 12 minutes of “mmm's” and “ahhh's” in their 1 hour talk, a total of $100!

    Maybe a slight exaggeration, but I was laughing.

  • Kimm Viebrock

    Even my husband, the lawyer, agrees with your sentiments. The truth is though, that not everyone charges $300/hr for associates. Although his rates are that high, it's because he's a shareholder (equity partner) at his firm, not an associate, junior or otherwise.

    A partial solution anyway would be to go with a reputable regional firm. They're more likely to have deep experience, broad range of services, and bandwidth than a small firm and don't have to charge the higher rates that the national firms do. They're still big firms but without the biggest-of-the-big rates. Ought to be a decent enough sell to investors.

    In fact, there is one firm locally (Seattle) that I keep seeing associated with all the startups and we can't quite figure out why. It's all the same people they had when they were a regional firm, but now that they've merged with a big national firm, they have to charge higher rates to be commensurate with the attorneys in more expensive parts of the country. Those kinds of inflated rates really aren't necessary unless your startup is itself located in one of those more expensive locations.

    All that said, it probably also makes sense for law firms (large or small) to come up with some kind of flat rate bundle of services for basic startup legal services. Would something like that be appealing if such a thing were possible?

  • john

    What a great F'ing title!!

  • Shane

    My favorite fucking lawyer experience is when they send you back your articles of incorporation along with a $5k bill, and come across the name of some other company sprinkled throughout the doc. For $300 / hr., you'd think they could learn how to copy and paste ;)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bfeld bfeld

    You mean you don’t think you get your incremental 6% of value from them. Ahem – er – yup.

    • Mezus

      What kind of moron pays a commercial real estate broker 6%? Of course, they would be worth 6% if you paid them that, otherwise you wouldn't have taken the deal.

  • Brad Stewart

    Recently I asked my attorney if he could help me out with some research that was outside his main practice. He told me he would look into it before he got into billable hours. I guess he decided it was in his area after he sent me a bill for $700 and web snippets I already knew about. Useless.

  • Greg

    I liked that article a lot, but I like your title for it much more. Would Dan have let Jason use that in PE Hub?

  • Robert Dunn

    Boy I could vent on this. My primary frustration comes from the fact that there seems to be no structural incentive for attorneys to do their work more efficiently. I have worked with many of law firms in the Valley, and it seems that they cannot envision a way to do an incorporation (with all the key docs), or a financing round more efficiently (i.e. less billable hours). Even when I tell them to use standard terms, and say "we are willing to do some of the leg work," somehow the price can't go below $40K. When I get the bill, often it is Buffy or Jimmy, one year out of law school, who "drafted" the agreements. (Really!! Buffy drafted the Series A documents all by her self? No, Buffy did 'find and replace', somehow took 30 hours, and then had to have everything reviewed by the Partner because she doesn't really know what she is doing – oh, and the Partner's rate is $600 an hour.) Ideally, I think that VCs should request that model agreements be used (at least as the starting point) for the financing rounds, and the VC and the start-up should agree on incentives to keep the legal fees low (the current system of the start-up having to pay the bill for both law firms, cut is only able to control one of the two firms is dysfunctional, in my opinion).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/aziz_griese5636 aziz_griese5636

    Brad, so damned tactful, I love it. My favorite lawyer experience was told by a friend of mine, a founder of kiptronic, in San Francisco. He said he was staring across the table at his new lawyer, ($500/hour), and was so bored by the discussion and pissed by the last bill, that he started counting the seconds the lawyer would go, "ummmmm", "ahhhh", "welllll", "hmmmmm", and thoughtful pauses. $500/hour, works out to $8.33/minute, and he counted a full 12 minutes of "mmm's" and "ahhh's" in their 1 hour talk, a total of $100!

    Maybe a slight exaggeration, but I was laughing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kimm_viebro1980 kimm_viebro1980

    Even my husband, the lawyer, agrees with your sentiments. The truth is though, that not everyone charges $300/hr for associates. Although his rates are that high, it's because he's a shareholder (equity partner) at his firm, not an associate, junior or otherwise.

    A partial solution anyway would be to go with a reputable regional firm. They're more likely to have deep experience, broad range of services, and bandwidth than a small firm and don't have to charge the higher rates that the national firms do. They're still big firms but without the biggest-of-the-big rates. Ought to be a decent enough sell to investors.

    In fact, there is one firm locally (Seattle) that I keep seeing associated with all the startups and we can't quite figure out why. It's all the same people they had when they were a regional firm, but now that they've merged with a big national firm, they have to charge higher rates to be commensurate with the attorneys in more expensive parts of the country. Those kinds of inflated rates really aren't necessary unless your startup is itself located in one of those more expensive locations.

    All that said, it probably also makes sense for law firms (large or small) to come up with some kind of flat rate bundle of services for basic startup legal services. Would something like that be appealing if such a thing were possible?

  • john

    What a great F'ing title!!

  • Jackson Miller

    How about "Fucking Commercial Real Estate Brokers"

  • PAD

    Lawyers in the "political class" (i.e. politicians a.k.a. "legal criminals") have made a mess of this nation. This is painfully true now when we see the financial problems as of late. I am not exaggerating or tilting to hyperbole when I say that the majority of lawyers are "ethically impaired." They are so far out of the loop of everyday America that these self-aggrandized pariahs feel not only justified but even entitled to charge $300, $400, $500 and even $600 per hour for their "services," The bastards are even on TV commercials now, pandering to the Oprah crowd… and to think that cigarette commercials have been banned on TV for years now! I truly believe that gaining acceptance in the bar and "making junior partner" in the firm is a Faustian deal. I honestly think that most lawyers have (at least figuratively) sold their soul to the devil in order to get ahead.

  • Bob

    Lawyers are worse than prostitutes. Prostitutes only sell their bodies….lawyers sell their soul. After you deal with a hooker, you leave with a smile. After you deal with a lawyer, you leave with a headache and frown. How come lawyers get to charge this much per hour for their so-called "services"? Why is there no regulation? Simple…the whole dang place is run by lawyers and former lawyers. Most politicians and public officials are lawyers or used to be lawyers or connected with the law profession in some manner. Remember those hated Scribes and Pharisees in the Bible…guess what…they were lawyers!

  • none b noone

    Lawyers are animals!!!!!! They are GREED personified. WORSE than criminals and con men because they pretend to be upstanding citizens. They SCAM. THEY CON.
    THEY LIE! THEY CHEAT! THEY STEAL!

  • Chad

    Jesus had it right !! when he called the lawyers of his day “Sons of Snakes” My experience with these “Hipocrites” to date tells me nothing has changed since that time, except, perhaps, society can just support more of these SOB's They still “Crusify the inncent” and get away with it. Interesting isn't it ? Perhaps God has something “special” planned for these folks who have been blined by there own pride and arrogance !!
    We all fall short of course, but these bastards behave as though they have some kind of special gift that makes them better than the rest of us, well, all I have to say about that is I'll bet more criminals are better people than lawyers, who would you trust in a fix? a criminal or a lawyer? neither is a good choice but my experience to date is and I'm 45 years old is lawyers have cost me by far more loss than any criminal has, mayby we should put the criminals in charge of the civil “JUST ICE” system.

  • Chad

    Jesus had it right !! when he called the lawyers of his day "Sons of Snakes" My experience with these "Hipocrites" to date tells me nothing has changed since that time, except, perhaps, society can just support more of these SOB's They still "Crusify the inncent" and get away with it. Interesting isn't it ? Perhaps God has something "special" planned for these folks who have been blined by there own pride and arrogance !!
    We all fall short of course, but these bastards behave as though they have some kind of special gift that makes them better than the rest of us, well, all I have to say about that is I'll bet more criminals are better people than lawyers, who would you trust in a fix? a criminal or a lawyer? neither is a good choice but my experience to date is and I'm 45 years old is lawyers have cost me by far more loss than any criminal has, mayby we should put the criminals in charge of the civil "JUST ICE" system.

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