Pros and Cons of Joining a Startup as In-House Counsel

By George Khoury, Esq. on July 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

For in-house counsel, the thought of taking a job at a startup might be enticing for several reasons (beyond just daily foosball tournament).

However, for every benefit you might think of, there's usually a corresponding sacrifice you'll have to make because you're a lawyer, and not some Millennial techie that can show up to work in ripped jeans and a t-shirt.

Below you can read about some of the pros and cons of going in house at a startup.

Pro: No Suits Required Dress code

Most startups boast extraordinarily lax dress codes. That means you can probably leave the suit at home, at least some/most of the time.

Con: You Still Wear a Suit and Dress Up

While the dress code for the company might not require you to be anything other than clothed, as an attorney, dressing the part is still part of the job. As the startup's only lawyer, or one of the only lawyers, you might be tasked with being the bearer of bad news, firing people, or announcing policies that might stir the pot. Wearing a suit, or at least dressing up, will help employees take your advice, or counsel, a bit more seriously.

Pro: You're the Lawyer

Depending on the size of the startup, you may be the only lawyer on board. If that's the case, it can be an awesome experience where you get to put your hands on nearly everything. If you want to wear a lot of hats, then going in house early on in a startup's lifespan will suit you great, and might even lead to a promotion as the company's first GC.

Con: You're THE Lawyer

Conversely, when you're the only lawyer, all the legal work falls on your shoulders. And though you may relish the job security, free time may be soon become a distinct relic of your past. What's worse, if a mistake is made, and legal is to blame, then you might end up as the sacrificial lamb or scapegoat.

Pro: Free Food

In addition to the foos, many startups offer free lunch and well-stocked snack-bars. For the snack-loving-lawyers of the world that need to chew in order to think, this benefit could actually provide significant monetary savings and make working in the office a true joy.

Con: Free Food

If you can stop yourself from overeating, or to not eat unhealthily, then the free food isn't a con. But if you struggle to stay away from sugar, and the complementary froyo machine keeps calling your name, this "benefit" can quickly become a bad thing.

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