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Verified Expert Lawyer: Adam Zagaris

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 you work with clients that often have less leverage than counter-parties, it takes a creative approach to get deals done. For example, if they have a hundred points they would like to get in a contract but it will slow deals down, miss quarters or kill deals, I help them focus on a dozen or two points — what they really need — and then help them get those wins.”


On common startup mistakes:


“There are two general mistakes I see clients making these days (and both are largely the fault of attorneys). First, clients are often afraid to ‘get legal involved’. Attorneys are often viewed as obstacles to getting business done. Second, founders often view legal work as commoditized. Some clients would rather download random contracts off a Google search and negotiate themselves – rather than call an attorney. Both of these mistakes are the fault of attorneys – not founders. It is incumbent on attorneys to help move business forward. This is done by creating clear alignment (both practical and optical) of legal services with business interests. It is on us to help clients understand we are here to help move the ball forward, not to simply stand in the way over-lawyering and saying “no”. In addition, the value we bring to the table is often critical but not immediately apparent. We need to better educate clients on this.”


On his approach:




“If it wasn’t for Adam and the recommendations he made who knows where the company would have been.” Tyler Smith, Sacramento, CEO, SkySlope
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