Leslee Cohen

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Leslee Cohen has been practising regulation for many years in her hometown of Chicago. She’s been working with an increasing number of startups over the past ten years, after co-founding her personal agency (Hershman Cohen) and increasing together with the town’s tech scene.


On her method:

“I’ve one companion and we’ve got now employed two different ladies to affix us. We’re extraordinarily acutely aware of the truth that startups and small companies have plenty of necessary makes use of for his or her aside from authorized charges. We’re all senior-level attorneys and we by no means double invoice. What meaning to our purchasers is that if one in all us does the work and desires a second set of eyes in a very advanced contract, these further hours are usually not billed.

“Leslee’s means to make even essentially the most difficult points easy and simple to grasp has been invaluable to our firm!” Larry Bellack, Chicago, President, Cell Doorman
“The stress on the huge companies is: what number of hours have you ever billed? If somebody referred to as me with a fast query in my prior days as a giant agency legal professional, my thought was ‘I get to place .2 on my billing sheet.’ And that’s simply the exact opposite of what our observe is about; it’s about forming these relationships with startups and persevering with to serve in that normal counsel function for as far down the street as potential. Having our purchasers go inform everybody how nice we’re is a lot extra necessary to me than an additional .5 on a timesheet.”
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On founder-investor relations:

“I really feel that sustaining the founder’s relationship with its traders is of nice significance, even via generally tough negotiations, and make each effort to be the lawyer that fosters that relationship moderately than hindering it in any manner. I not too long ago labored on a Collection A providing and the founder-investor relationship was terribly constructive till one specific problem arose — the founder’s first intestine response was fury and ‘how may she say that to me and the way may she do this to me and I’m gonna name her and inform her what I believe.’ My response was ‘write out an e mail with every little thing you wish to say and ship it to me after which we’re gonna delete it. Two weeks in the past you liked one another and also you’re going to once more. She’s a strategic investor, she is aware of what she’s doing and she or he’s bringing a lot credibility to your small business — this isn’t the best way you need the connection to go.’

“So the founder wrote that e mail, and it was vicious, after which he referred to as me again two hours later to thank me profusely. Certain sufficient they sat down, talked it out, and their relationship is robust once more.”

Under, you’ll discover the remainder of the founder critiques, the total interview, and extra particulars like their pricing and price constructions.

This text is a part of our ongoing collection overlaying the early-stage startup legal professionals who founders like to work with, based mostly on this survey (which we’re protecting open for extra suggestions) and our personal analysis. In case you’re a founder attempting to navigate the early-stage authorized landmines, be sure you try our rising set of in-depth articles, like this guidelines of what you should get performed on the company aspect in your first years as an organization.

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The Interview:

Eric Eldon: How does your observe work, given that you just’ve struck out from a giant regulation agency to cofound a boutique agency? What are you centered on with early-stage corporations?

Leslee Cohen: One is startup formation and I do work with these ‘I’ve an thought’ type of corporations. I’ll discuss for an hour totally free to anyone who’s at that time, however often aside from entity formation — which a paralegal can do — you most likely ought to give attention to growing your thought slightly extra earlier than you spend cash on a lawyer. As soon as somebody is able to truly begin an organization, I’ll do all of it at that stage, even pre-funding, and assist with entity choice and formation, organizational paperwork, bylaws and what-have-you.

After which co-founder agreements, plenty of co-founder agreements. I believe that’s actually necessary, I perceive if somebody involves me and says I’m beginning an organization with my sister or with my finest pal from kindergarten that’s not your very first thing you wish to spend cash on by way of authorized charges. However, with these few exceptions, I’ve seen so many co-founder breakups that it’s actually necessary to me.

The extra widespread manner that corporations come to me is after they’re elevating their seed spherical. I’ll work with them on SAFE and convertible word rounds. I’ll work with them on the disclosure a part of the spherical, the SEC filings, any state filings obligatory, structuring the spherical, what it’s going to seem like. After which the businesses have cash and begin hiring their first staff, so I draft employment agreements, deal with HR points and construction fairness grants to advisors and restricted inventory agreements. I additionally present a privateness coverage, phrases of use, NDAs, after which as soon as they begin doing enterprise, day-to-day contracts with prospects and on the opposite aspect with distributors and suppliers. Figuring out worker versus unbiased contractors, cap tables, incentive inventory plans — these are all proper in my wheelhouse.

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The furthest I’ll go into actual property is the primary lease.

Eldon: How does this evaluate versus what you used to do in BigLaw?

Cohen: I used to be in that world, so I perceive what goes on — the charges, and actually the stress to invoice hours — and that’s my primary pet peeve that we actually give attention to right here.

I’ve one companion and we’ve got now employed two different ladies to affix us. We’re extraordinarily acutely aware of the truth that startups and small companies have plenty of necessary makes use of for his or her aside from authorized charges. We’re all senior-level attorneys and we by no means double invoice. What meaning to our purchasers is that if one in all us does the work and desires a second set of eyes in a very advanced contract, these further hours are usually not billed.


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