Monday, August 20, 2012

Chicago's Best Lawyers for Startups

Getting a good startup lawyer right from the beginning, can often be the difference between "off to the races" and "oops, why didn't we think of that before".  Picking a good lawyer often revolves around their expertise with startups, expertise in your industry, expertise for your specific project, bench strength of their firm, affordability, references and personality fit with your organization.  So, speak with several, to assess who is best for your business and liking, before making your decision.

There are several worthy lawyers in Chicago, with deep expertise in serving the startup community.  Below is a list of some of my favorites (in alphabetical order), having worked with them over the years.  You will be well-served by any of their counsel.

Frank Ballantine at Clark Hill
Online Biohttp://www.clarkhill.com/Attorney/fballantine
Contact: 312-985-5937 or fballantine @clarkhill.com
Firm Size: 225 attorneys in 7 offices nationwide ($$$, but flexible for startups).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  GetListed.org, Kromek Ltd, Penango, Motif BioSciences, Pinnacle BioLogics.  Has served over 50 early-stage businesses, including as a director on 21 boards.
Expertise: formation, fund raising, compensation, IP, M&A, JV's, product development, distribution, strategy.  Highly rated by Chambers.  Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries:  e-commerce, technology, life sciences, food & beverage, manufacturing, financial, business services.
Involvement: founding member of Hyde Park Angels, advisory board of two venture funds, lead mentor Chicago Innovation Mentors, social ventures advisor of Center for Neighborhood Technology, speaker at many venture events.

Craig Bradley at Edwards Wildman
Online Biohttp://www.edwardswildman.com/professionals/detail.aspx?attorney=1134
Contact:  312-201-2606 or cbradley @edwardswildman.com
Firm Size: 650 attorneys on three continents ($$$, but flexible for startups).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  SA Ignite, Hireology, BitBend, Sweet Perk, UrbanBound, Regenerative Medical Solutions, RedWave Energy.  100 deals since 1993.
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, distribution, partnering, licensing, compensation.  Highly rated by Chambers.  One recommendation from another lawyer on this list.
Industries:  technology, software, internet, life sciences, energy, materials
Involvement: director at ITA, faculty at Kellogg, founder Wildcat Angels, sponsor VentureShot, steering committee for TEDxMidwest 

Matthew Brown at Katten Muchin Rosenman (or his partner Jeffrey Patt)
Online Biohttp://www.kattenlaw.com/matthew-brown/
Contact:  312-902-5207 or matthew.brown @kattenlaw.com
Firm Size: 650 attorneys on three continents ($$$$, but flexible for startups).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  BCV Evolve, eSpark Learning, LiveOne, Eved, Bloom Nation, Vaporstream, iKonverse
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, transactions, compensation, M&A, governance, strategy, IP.  Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries:  technology, software, healthcare, financial services, entertainment
Involvement: director at Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, sponsor Booth Seed Con, sponsor New Venture Challenge, sponsor Clean Energy Challenge

Chris Cain at Foley & Lardner (or his partner Galen Mason)
Online Biohttp://www.foley.com/christopher-c-cain/
Contact: 312-832-4553 or ccain@ foley.com
Firm Size: 900 attorneys in 21 offices in three continents ($$$$, but flexible for startups including deferred or discounted fees).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  StyleSeek, VLinks Media, Bid Med, Procured Health, Shiftgig, Tap.Me, Tech.li
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, M&A, outsourcing, IP, litigation, strategy.  Former general counsel at Sonic Foundry and CPA from Arthur Andersen.
Industries: software, hardware, technology, social media, private equity.
Involvement: co-founder and host of Catapult Chicago

Jon Fieldman (Independent)
Online Biohttp://www.fieldmanlawgroup.com/about.html
Contact: 312-961-3844 or fieldman @fieldmanlawgroup.com
Firm Size: sole practice ($$).  Partners with other lawyers on an as-needed basis.
Clients:  Policy of non-disclosure.  But, many venture-backed startups.
Expertise:  Formation, fund raising, employment, litigation, IP, contracts, strategy.  A former partner with Sidley & Austin and a former CIO/COO (with deep business experience).
Industries: technology, finance, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, retail, food & beverage
Involvement: past-chairman of Lumity, member Friends of Blaine, producer of Transformational Leadership events

Scott Glickson at McGuire Woods (or his partner Ben Kern)
Online Biohttp://www.mcguirewoods.com/lawyers/index/scott_l_glickson.asp
Contact: 312-321-7652 or sglickson @mcguirewoods.com
Firm Size: 950 attorneys in 19 cities in U.S. & Europe ($$$$, but flexible for startups).  120 in Chicago and 30 in tech practice.  Wide range of talent for all needs. 
Clients:  Sagence, Give Forward, ContextMedia, Code Academy, Akoo, Northstar, Future Simple, Fango (sold to GrubHub), FeeFighters (sold to Groupon).  Worked for me at iExplore.
Expertise: formation, fund raising, licensing, outsourcing, IP, team building, partnerships, disputes.  Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: information technology, clean tech, healthcare, private equity
Involvement: director emeritus ITA (20 years), director i.c. Stars

Michael Gray at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg
Online Biohttp://www.ngelaw.com/mgray/
Contact: 312-269-8086 or mgray @ngelaw.com
Firm Size: 175 attorneys ($$$$, but flexible for startups).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  Built in Chicago, FireStarter Fund and others that are confidential.
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, M&A, IP, agreements, employment, compensation, taxation, estate planning, strategy.  Former VC, understands both sides.  Highly rated by Chambers.  Six recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: information technology
Involvement: member IVCA, member ITA, speaker 1871, speaker Booth School

Darren Green (Independent)
Online Biohttp://www.fizzlaw.com/lawyers/darren-green
Contact: 847-205-0977 or dgreen @dgattorney.com
Firm Size: Sole practice ($$). 
Clients:  Total Attorneys, Local Offer Network, Inventables, Ad Gooroo, mFoundry, Body Shop Bids, Belly, Lightswitch, Code Academy, BankVue, Luxemi, Moving Station, Psylotech, Revenew
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, IP, M&A, JVs, agreements, compensation, employment, T&Cs, strategy.  One recommendation from another lawyer on this list.
Industries:  information technology 
Involvement: professor Northwestern Law School (teaching venture capital), partner Old Willow Partners (buy-out fund), writer Chicago Tribune

Greg Grove at Much Shelist
Online Biohttp://www.muchshelist.com/attorney/gregory-d-grove
Contact: ggrove @muchshelist.com
Firm Size: 85 attorneys ($$$).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  Voxsup, Engage-a-Pro, Noblivity, Conceivex, Pegasus Biosolutions, Blossom Coffee, Guardian Angel, Lemnos Labs
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, M&A, IP.  Silicon Valley based lawyer for 11 years. Former electrical engineer (MIT).
Industries: software, internet, communications, technology, electrical devices, healthcare tech
Involvement: sponsor and host of Founder Institute Chicago, speaker and free hours at 1871 

Jim Jerue at Horwood Marcus & Berk
Online Biohttp://www.hmblaw.com/professionals-directory/james-l-jerue.aspx
Contact: 312-606-3202 or jjerue @hmblaw.com
Firm Size:  52 attorneys in Chicago ($$$).  Wide range of talent for most needs.
Clients:  eSpark Learning, KLUTCHclub, Smarteys, Vibes Media, HireBrite
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, M&A, partnerships, employment, contracts, taxation, estate planning. Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries:  technology, healthcare
Involvement: mentor Excelerate Labs and Chicago Booth Accelerator, sponsor and investor Hyde Park Angels, co-chair private equity subcommittee at Chicago Bar Association

Bart Loethen at Synergy Law Group
Online Biohttp://www.synergylawgroup.com/Synergy_Law_Group/bartly_loethen.html
Contact: bart@ synergylawgroup.com
Firm Size: 10 attorneys, almost entirely startup focused ($$$).  Been referred to as the "Most Progressive West Coast Style Firm in Chicago".
Clients: policy of non-disclosure, but has a great list (e.g., Bart has done my legal work for Red Rocket and MediaRecall).
Expertise: formation, fund raising, taxation, litigation, M&A, IP, licensing.  Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: technology, high growth, healthcare, software
Involvement: sponsor Excelerate Labs, sponsor Impact Engine, board SmartBet

Ken Obel (Independent)
Online Biohttp://www.mygoodcounsel.com/bio/
Contact: 312-380-9406 or ken @mygoodcounsel.com
Firm Size: sole practice ($$).  Partners with other lawyers for other full-service needs.  Often fixed-fee projects instead of hourly rate based.
Clients:  Kove, First Stop Health, CityScan, RightAtSchool, Zaplee
Expertise: formation, fund raising, compensation, agreements, negotiation, licensing.  Served for 10 years as an in-house general counsel for startups (so first hand experience as a startup). An avid road cyclist willing to work while biking!  Two recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: information technology, consumer
Involvement: free startup legal clinics at Entrepreneur @NU, Entrepreneurs Unplugged and Evanston Technology Innovation Center

Michael Rosenthal at Polsinelli Shughart (formerly at SNR Denton)
Online Biohttp://www.snrdenton.com/people/r/rosenthal_michael_d.aspx
Contact: 312-463-6318 or mrosenthal@ polsinelli.com
Firm Size: 600 attorneys nationwide ($$$$, but flexible for startups). 40 lawyers in tech practice, many with computer science and engineering degrees.
Clients: C-Sam, ViMedicus, Advanced Molecular plus many venture firms (e.g., Adams Street, River Cities, Amiti, Psilos).
Expertise: formation, fund raising, strategy, partnerships, IP, compensation, M&A, JV's, litigation, data privacy, a bridge to capital/strategic partners globally.  Highly rated by Chambers.  Three recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: information technology, healthcare, medical
Involvement: member IVCA and ACG, sponsor of Chicago chapter of Startup Leadership Program, sponsor Illinois Business and Investor Forum and Chicago New Media Summit

Spencer Wood at Polsinelli Shughart (or his partner Teddy Scott)
Online Biohttp://www.polsinelli.com/swood/
Contact: 312-873-3677 or swood@ polsinelli.com
Firm Size: 600 attorneys nationwide ($$$$, but flexible for startups).  40 lawyers in tech practice, many with computer science and engineering degrees.
Clients:  policy of non-disclosure.
Expertise:  formation, fund raising, M&A, IP, tech development
Industries: technology, software, internet, medical, financial, digital media, life sciences, clean tech, energy.
Involvement: lecturer at Tribeca Flashpoint Academy, mentor at PROPEL and Chicago Innovation Mentors, hosts Venture Capital Group meetings of Business Network Chicago (BNC).

Bruce Zivian at Perkins Coie
Online Bio: http://www.perkinscoie.com/bzivian/
Contact: 312-324-8433 or bzivian @perkinscoie.com
Firm Size: 850 attorneys in 19 offices in U.S. and Asia ($$$$, but flexible for startups).  Wide range of talent for all needs.
Clients:  policy of non-disclosure.
Expertise:  Formation, fund raising, JV's, distribution, compensation, licensing, IP.  Three recommendations from other lawyers on this list.
Industries: biotech, medical products and devices, web based services, software
Involvement: director Urban Students Empowered


If you think I am missing anybody, or think you should be included in this discussion, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments field below.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.com


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15 comments:

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Claudia Rosenburg said...

I've been looking for a business attorney for some time now. My business is really thriving right now, which is amazing! However, my ex-partner is now suing me because she claims I kicked her out of the business. She left for personal reasons. What should I do in this case?
Claudia Rosenburg | http://larsonsolecki.com/our-practice/san-diego-business-attorneys/

George Deeb said...

Claudia, the first thing you need to do is engage a good corporate attorney with litigation experience. Call one of the guys on this list, and they will point you in the right direction.

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Paul Herman said...

It seems really important for startup companies to have a lawyer. There are a lot of legalities that need to be taken into account. It seems like it would be necessary for startups to hire a lawyer, at least to protect intellectual property rights.
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Megan Jones said...

It can make a huge difference. I've been dealing with a business lawsuit for the last two years because of a technicality. One little mistake and you're digging your own grave. Start Smart.
Megan Jones http://www.hastingslawfirm.com/practiceareas

Jessie Vera said...

Thank you for listing possible lawyers that can help with start-ups. I'm living in Valparaiso, IN and I'm looking for a great business attorney to help me with a start up idea I have. I need someone who is well recommended in the area with great credibility.

Jessie | http://www.hwelaw.com/practice_business.php