I’ve directly negotiated ten investment rounds, four M&A deals and been indirectly (although fairly heavily) involved in about another five transactions. Plus numerous partnerships which required extensive negotiations. In every single instance, I reached a point where I wanted to murder all the lawyers involved. Usually starting with my own. I think it’s time we tried to fix this.
Here’s a few suggested optimizations for all law firms who want to work with tech/Internet/games companies/me;
1. Make sure all your senior and junior partners can pass a basic technology test
Understand what ‘open source’ is. Understand how Amazon hosting works. And for the love of God, understand that cloud computing is different to peer-to-peer file-sharing.
2. Fix your due diligence and warranty lists
Any law firms who want to be respected by their technology clients should immediately review their dd/warranty lists. Virtually every developer uses open source for something so being asked to warrant that “no third parties are using software which is core to your business” makes you look rather silly.
3. Use the sharing tools your clients use and stop blaming “the IT dept”
We’re using Dropbox. You need to use Dropbox. Stop being controlled by your IT department and modernise your firm.
4. Be more efficient
Mark Suster wrote a brilliant post (again) about trying to get lawyers and investors into a room for a single session to crunch everything. I’ve tried to make this happen but never quite managed it (I’ll get there eventually). This is the single biggest favour you could do for your client and you won’t even have to charge them any less
5. Have more open days for clients
This post was inspired by a great lunchtime discussion at Osborne Clarke, who genuinely do a great job of bringing together groups of interesting people. Actual value-add, people. Pay attention. (To be clear, I’m not a client of theirs but they’re still cool enough to invite me).
6. Treat document drafts like lives
When you’re negotiating documents, all firms should be allowed one draft circulation only. Any further changes can only be agreed by phone or in person.
Would love to hear other suggestions so fire them up in the comments and I’ll add to the post.