Skip to Main Content

Home Research Law Firms Practice Areas

Emerging Companies & Venture Capital

Overview

An attorney in an EC/VC practice advises early-stage companies on every legal matter the companies face, from formation to several rounds of venture financings to a sale or an IPO. Emerging Companies attorneys are corporate generalists for the clients and often serve as “outside general counsel” for startup clients before the clients are large enough to hire in-house attorneys. They work with founders to choose the best corporate form (corporation, LLC, etc.), and draft the appropriate forms to create the company. They advise companies on how shares will be valued and divided among various stakeholders. Start-up lawyers help develop a company’s internal policies and procedures and serve as corporate secretaries. They work on the legal documentation for various rounds of private financing and ultimately help navigate an “exit event”—an IPO or acquisition. Junior lawyers often have a lot of client contact and responsibility from an early stage as startups can not generally afford to pay senior attorneys’ billing rates. The relationships with founders can often lead to an invitation to join the company when it is in a position to hire its first in-house lawyer. Startup practices are heavily concentrated in certain markets, including San Francisco and Silicon Valley, as well as Boston, New York (Silicon Alley), and increasingly in Southern California (Silicon Beach).

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Emerging Companies & Venture Capital from real lawyers in the practice area.
Jon Avina, Partner • Giselle Rivers, Associate
Cooley LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Jon: I represent a variety of venture-backed private and public companies, ranging from the proverbial two people in the garage all the way to multibillion-dollar public companies. My practice is driven by relationships. A major aspect of my practice is advising late-stage companies on their IPOs, as well as providing support once they are public. This area of my practice constantly challenges me to understand my clients’ business imperatives and objectives, so that I can provide them with a tailored service. You cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach, as each technology company, large and small, has unique issues and dynamics. While this is an enormous challenge, it gives you the opportunity to develop a more strategic relationship with your clients.

Giselle: I work with private companies throughout their life cycles on all their corporate needs, ranging from advising on general legal and business issues—like an outside general counsel—to negotiating fundraising terms, strategic partnerships, and M&A exits. The job varies depending on the company and the day, but it is always fast moving and challenging.

What types of clients do you represent?

Jon: I have had the distinct pleasure of representing a range of technology companies over the past 20 years, including Google, Box, LinkedIn, Zoom Video Communications, Instacart, MINDBODY, Ellie Mae, Adaptive Insights, PagerDuty, Splunk, Fastly, MuleSoft, Palo Alto Networks, and AppDynamics. I have also represented investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley. Most of my clients are in the enterprise software space, meaning they develop, market, and sell software to companies for a variety of use cases.

Giselle: My clients tend to be innovators working to improve the world or disrupt an industry, some taking on problems that were assumed unsolvable and others reworking whole industries that we didn’t realize could be better. For example, I work with a company called LOLA that is disrupting the market for women’s reproductive health products, driven by the founder’s realization that the major tampon companies weren’t required to list all ingredients in their products. Another client, Mark43, has built the next generation of law enforcement software with the goal of improving public safety. And Mirror just launched a nearly invisible interactive home gym that could be a game changer for the wellness industry.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Jon: While my practice is broad in scope, my transactional practice mainly focuses on IPOs and other capital markets transactions for technology companies. I worked on IPOs for Google, LinkedIn, Aruba Networks, Splunk, Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Box, MINDBODY, Sunrun, AppDynamics (acquired by Cisco prior to the IPO), MuleSoft, and Adaptive Insights (acquired by Workday prior to the IPO), as well as a number of other IPOs that have not yet been publicly disclosed. I have also worked on a number of M&A transactions—representing serial acquirers like Google—as well as buy-side and sell-side transactions for both private and public companies, most recently the sale of MINDBODY to Vista Equity Partners and the sale of Ellie Mae to Thoma Bravo (pending).

Giselle: Most of the transactions that I work on are fundraising transactions for companies and venture funds that are making investments. I also represent companies in their liquidity events—typically M&A transactions. Though the transactions are a significant portion of what I work on, an almost equal portion of my practice focuses on guiding and advising clients on their day-to-day legal needs.

How did you choose this practice area?

Jon: My practice is the product of pure serendipity. I attended Stanford Law School in the ’90s, where I discovered—almost by accident and in spite of my best efforts—the opportunity that Silicon Valley provided. When I entered law school, I assumed that I would be working in a large metropolitan area, spending my days and nights learning the litigation trade until I was ready to be the next Harry Hamlin or Corbin Bernsen—two actors who played litigators on a popular ’80s show called “LA Law.” That’s what lawyers do, right? After spending a summer at a litigation-focused firm in San Francisco, I was desperate to find a different type of practice and started to panic about how I was ever going to repay my student loans. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to join a firm known for its focus on representing technology companies just when the dot-com period in Silicon Valley was starting to take shape. Not only did I have the opportunity to work for clients like Netscape and Pixar, I also got to cut my teeth on a constant parade of IPOs for companies that are now footnotes in the annals of Silicon Valley. While the abrupt and brutal end of the dot-com period shook many of us to our core, it did allow me to focus more on the technical aspects of the craft, especially in the wake of Enron, when the legislators and regulators in Washington, DC, forever changed the practice by adopting an endless stream of new laws, rules, and regulations. I quickly realized that, in order to build a successful corporate practice in Silicon Valley, you had to be able to manage transactions large and small, as well as bring to bear both judgment and technical expertise in many different facets of the law.

Giselle: I worked in the entertainment industry and at startups before law school, and I knew I wanted to focus on a practice area where creativity and innovation would be part of the day-to-day. When I started at Cooley, I found the energy of the entrepreneurs to be contagious and knew this was the right practice area for me.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Jon: One of the aspects of my practice that I enjoy the most is knowing that each day is different. One day, I am attending a meeting with a roomful of investment bankers, their counsel, auditors, and senior management, helping them draft the prospectus for an IPO. The next day, I am attending a board meeting for a public company and helping them shape the messaging around their earnings results that they are preparing to deliver to The Street.

Giselle: Every day is different. Working with numerous companies across a variety of stages and industries means advising clients on a wide range of legal issues with varying levels of urgency and complexity. I am often the first person they call when an issue arises—some of the questions require a technical legal answer, and other times, the client just needs practical advice or to talk through an issue. There are also legal documents to review and draft, and when working on a transaction, there are negotiation calls and meetings with opposing counsel. Most days I am also meeting with potential new clients for coffee/lunch/drinks/events, and I can’t forget time spent with my Cooley team, focused on recruiting, training, and mentoring.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Jon: First and foremost, I would focus on taking classes that are known for having great professors. Frankly, I had no interest in capital markets until I took the capital markets course in law school where I instantly knew that this was an exciting area of the law, especially the intersection of the securities laws and technology companies, which presented novel, difficult issues that are quite unique when compared to other industries.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Jon: The most challenging aspect of an emerging companies practice is the art of juggling the various demands of your clients. Each client wants to feel as though they are your only client, which means they expect responsiveness and the ability to understand the business imperatives that they are addressing. You must be able to develop the proverbial “bedside manner” of a trusted family doctor in order to earn the trust and respect of your clients.

Giselle: We work with clients that are innovating, so there often aren’t clear answers to their issues. This requires us to constantly make judgement calls and risk assessments without a crystal ball to show what the landscape will look like once fully developed.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Jon: My favorite part of the practice is having the ability to work with other like-minded attorneys at Cooley who are focused on providing the best service to our clients. We all know that we spend a considerable amount of time at work. Life is too short to be surrounded by difficult personalities who make your professional life even more challenging. I look forward to coming into the office each day because I’m surrounded by people who “have my back” and who know that I am there for them as well.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Jon: The biggest misconception about my practice is that we just “fill in the blanks” to the same set of contracts when nothing could be further from the truth. You quickly realize that you have the opportunity to be much more than an outside lawyer to your clients. Instead, you can be a trusted advisor to whom they turn for strategic advice that oftentimes has little to do with the law.

Giselle: Overall, people underestimate how much a corporate practice focuses on counseling and advising clients, often on non-legal issues. In this practice, it’s an expectation that you have a mastery of the substantive legal issues, but a good business sense and the ability to provide practical advice—taking into account the specifics of a client’s situation—are what set apart the most successful practitioners.

How is it different working with entrepreneurs in contrast to large corporate clients?

Giselle: When working with entrepreneurs, your main point of contact at the client is often the founder/CEO. To be an effective advisor to a CEO, you have to translate legal advice into business terms so they can understand the impact to the business and the bottom line. There is also a greater sensitivity to cost and focus on efficiency, and entrepreneurs are often willing to take on more risk as they push for the high growth that has become the expectation.

Jon Avina, Partner, and Giselle Rivers, Associate—Business Department

Jon Avina, a Cooley partner, advises a broad range of technology companies on corporate, securities, governance, and related matters. He represents a variety of private and public companies on general corporate and transactional matters valued in the billions of dollars, including venture capital financings, public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. He spends a considerable amount of time helping late-stage private companies prepare for their IPOs. This includes scaling their corporate governance infrastructure, formulating the key metrics for measuring operational performance, and advising on dual-class common stock capitalization structures.

Giselle Rivers, a Cooley associate, represents high-growth companies in the technology, media, fashion, ecommerce, and consumer product industries. She advises clients throughout their life cycles on general corporate law matters, as well as complex transactions, including debt and equity financings, strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, and public securities offerings. Giselle also regularly represents venture capital and private equity investors in connection with their investments and acquisitions.

Dawn Belt, Partner
Fenwick & West LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As a partner at Fenwick & West, I advise technology companies—both established industry leaders and cutting-edge startups—on a variety of business-focused legal matters. I spend about 70 percent of my client time with private companies—primarily general corporate, fundraising, and strategic transactions—and about 30 percent with public companies—primarily securities offerings, SEC compliance, and corporate governance.

In addition to my client-facing legal practice, a large part of my job is to help build my firm and community, particularly through recruiting and training, as well as business development, process improvement, and mentorship.

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients have included leading tech companies like Facebook, Dropbox, ServiceNow, GoPro, Bill.com, BuzzFeed, and Eventbrite, as well as smaller, less prominent companies that may one day also become technology giants. I’ve also had the privilege of representing a large number of female-founded startups, including This is L., Kindbody, rewardStyle, and Baobab Studios. I love being part of this growing cross section of the tech market.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

In the last two years, some of my notable publicly announced transactions include large financings for Brandless, Proterra, Bill.com, Buzzfeed, and Silver Peak Systems; Rule 144A notes offerings for GoPro and ServiceNow; Nimble Storage’s $1.2 billion acquisition by Hewlett Packard Enterprise; and numerous other smaller acquisitions and financings.

How did you choose this practice area?

My introduction to professional services came in my first job out of college as an economic consultant. I loved the challenge of the project-oriented work—which involved researching, writing, and completing both quantitative and qualitative analysis; the camaraderie of my team members; and the interactions with bright and engaged clients. At the time, I didn’t know much about what I might want to do after graduate school (and had no idea what a corporate lawyer actually did), but I knew I wanted to work in an area/function with similar qualities. After a lot of exploration during my J.D./M.B.A. program, I found that a corporate law career at a firm like Fenwick would be a great fit for me. This practice area and environment has provided similar opportunities to dig deep into complex issues, collaborate with very smart team members, and work closely with clients to solve critical problems. It’s an incredible practice area for people who like problem-solving, enjoy social interaction, and aren’t scared of tackling a wide variety of challenges.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

As a junior associate, I did many of the typical tasks related to diligence, simple document drafting, project management, client and team communication, legal research, and the myriad steps required to close transactions. As I advanced in seniority, I spent more time on project management and negotiations, as well as complex drafting and strategic counseling. Now as a partner at the firm, though I still spend a slight majority of my time on legal work (primarily reviewing associates’ work, structuring transactions, and advising on more complex or judgment-heavy issues), I spend significant amounts of time on client- and business-development efforts (including board meetings, client communications that aren’t specifically legal in nature, meetings with prospective clients, and events) and administrative tasks and also focus on mentoring and recruiting attorneys and staff.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Take as many tax and accounting classes as reasonably possible. These are hard areas to learn on the job, and having some academic preparation is very helpful. Find opportunities to learn and practice public speaking and negotiations. Clear and effective communication is key to success. Another very important and often overlooked skill is the ability to prioritize, triage, and balance many competing demands. Learning how to do that early in one’s career is essential to thriving in a startup-focused practice.

What do you like best about your practice area?

One thing I really love about my job is that I learn something new every day. Over the course of my career, I have worked on more complicated transactions, which have allowed me to continue developing my craft. Large, late-stage private financings are a big part of my practice, and there are always new and complex issues to think about.

During my many years at Fenwick, I’ve found this to be an incredibly supportive environment that has provided amazing client and career development opportunities. It’s been a wonderful place to develop my skills as a lawyer and manager, and now as a business owner.

What kinds of experience can summer associates gain in this practice area at your firm?

We want our summer associates to gain real-world work experience and develop an understanding of the professional and personal development opportunities that Fenwick can provide. Much like our first-year associates, summer associates dive into challenging and varied work assignments that include research and analysis; due diligence; and the drafting of documents for corporate financings, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and incorporation documents for startup companies. Our summer associates walk away with a solid understanding of the business and legal concepts that are key for our clients, such as formation, IP assignments, preferred stock financings, securities law considerations, and general corporate matters that are common to startups.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Most corporate startup lawyers who do not stay in a law firm end up working in-house at tech companies, whether at a smaller company as a first or second lawyer or as part of a more mature legal team at a larger company.

How is it different working with entrepreneurs in contrast to large corporate clients?

Most entrepreneurs are not lawyers and have much higher risk tolerance than that of legal departments at large corporations. Our role is to provide tailored advice and services that address the specific needs of each particular client in each particular situation. That often means we must approach the level of explanation, and depth of exploration, of the menu of options available at each decision point very differently for these different types of clients. Being able to appropriately address these different audiences is critical for success; it’s also fun to wear the different hats, and our learnings in one area often (perhaps unexpectedly) help us improve in other areas as well.

Dawn Belt, Partner—Corporate; Co-Chair, Hiring Committee

Dawn Belt advises technology companies on a broad range of general corporate and complex transactional matters, including startup counseling, venture capital financings, mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, SEC compliance, and corporate governance. In 2017, Silicon Valley Business Journal named Dawn to the Women of Influence list, which honors Silicon Valley’s 100 most influential women. She was also honored among the 2017 Women Leaders in Tech Law by The Recorder. Most recently, The Daily Journal recognized Dawn as one of California’s Top Women Lawyers in 2018.​

Prior to joining Fenwick & West, Dawn served as a judicial extern for Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. She also worked as an economic consultant specializing in the valuation of technologies and business ventures.

Dawn is based in Fenwick’s Silicon Valley office and is the co-chair of the firm’s hiring committee.

Wenting Yu, Counsel
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

I represent emerging companies throughout their lifespans, from early-stage matters such as legal entity formation, corporate structure/strategy, equity/debt financings, commercial/strategic transactions, and founder/employee matters to more mature-stage matters like mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, and public company compliance.

I also represent financial/strategic investors and acquirers in connection with their investments in and acquisitions of emerging companies.

What types of clients do you represent?

On the emerging companies side, I represent private (venture-backed) and public technology and life sciences companies, including Finisar, Ultratech, Gladly, Yellowbrick, Hua Medicine, Brii Biosciences, MicuRx, and KBP Biosciences.

On the investor/acquisition side, I represent VC/PE funds and strategic investors, such as Alibaba, Ant Financial, Gates Ventures, Fidelity, PIF, Lightspeed Venture, GGV Capital, Ping An Ventures, HNA Capital, Vivo Capital, ZZ Capital, Steamboat Ventures, and Virtus Inspire Ventures.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on general corporate, venture financings, M&A, IPO, and public company compliance matters. Representative deals include:

  • Brii Biosciences’ $260M Series A and Series B financings.
  • Hua Medicine’s $117M Series D and Series E financings and $110M IPO.
  • Gladly’s $50M Series D and $36M Series C financings.
  • eHi Car Services Limited’s $400M unsecured notes offering.
  • Gates Ventures’ VC investments.
  • Ant Financial’s strategic investments.
  • Pharmaron’s strategic acquisitions of various U.S. assets/businesses.
  • Shanghai Haohai Biological Technology’s strategic acquisitions of various U.S. assets/businesses.

How did you choose this practice area?

I started my career in New York as a capital markets lawyer and moved to Silicon Valley when I was a third-year associate. I moved to Silicon Valley partly for family reasons and partly because I wanted to do more company-side work, work closely with founders and investors, and get exposed to a lot of cutting-edge technology and interesting developments in the space.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

I typically juggle 5-10 different clients/matters a day, ranging from reviewing, drafting, or negotiating transaction documents to attending board meetings to answering client calls and in-the-moment business and legal questions.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Passion and curiosity about the tech industry and the startup and venture world would be the key. Additionally, being patient and proactive with clients and being a pragmatic problem-solver would carry you a long way in this practice.

What is the most challenging aspect of your practice area?

The most challenging part is that emerging company lawyers typically manage more than a dozen active company clients or deals at the same time and need to be on top of the latest legal/business developments for each client and proactively advise clients in various matters. Many emerging companies do not have an in-house legal team and typically rely on outside counsel for all of their legal (or quasi-legal) matters—from day-to-day maintenance—such as cap table management and option grants—to financings and strategic transactions. Additionally, a lot of the company founders are first-time entrepreneurs, requiring outside counsel to think ahead for them and spot potential issues before a problem becomes a problem.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Emerging company lawyers get to work with passionate, insightful founders and investors and become part of the team that brings the business success. I also enjoy being a business/strategic adviser and providing creative, pragmatic solutions to emerging company clients in addition to being an outside legal counsel. I also like that young professionals in this practice typically have significant responsibility, substantive work, and opportunities to develop relationships with clients and bring business early in their career.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Junior lawyers tend to have substantive responsibility and direct client contact earlier than they would in some other practice areas. Typical tasks include conducting legal research and due diligence; drafting primary and ancillary financing and merger documents; and assisting clients with various day-to-day legal matters such as board minutes, stock issuances/transfers, option grants, commercial agreements, etc.

What are some typical career paths for lawyers in this practice area?

Entrepreneurs are generally more appreciative of the value provided by their outside counsel. A lot of the entrepreneurs are first-time founders and need a lot of close, day-to-day involvement from their outside counsel to guide them through all stages of company growth. They like prompt, responsive, and pragmatic solutions rather than extensive written legal analysis or opinions.

Wenting Yu, Counsel—Emerging Companies/Venture Capital

Wenting Yu is a corporate transactional lawyer specializing in securities offerings, venture financings, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate transactions. She regularly assists startup, midsize, and large companies across a variety of industries. Wenting provides her clients with innovative legal approaches to complex transactions and works diligently to position her clients for success.

Charles Torres, Partner • Paul Navarro, Associate
Perkins Coie LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Charles: We represent technology companies and emerging brands that are changing the world around us—the way we create, consume, and connect. Our practice focuses on a vertical and entails everything from the formation of startups to the handling of mergers and acquisitions to corporate governance … and everything in between.

Paul: An emerging company attorney functions as general counsel to young companies that aren’t yet ready to hire in-house attorneys full time. In practice that means I’m a generalist or like a swiss army knife of the law, counseling startups on a myriad of issues they face as they try to grow from innovative ideas into market disruptors. But I also help venture capitalists create investment funds, as well as make investments in and conduct due diligence on potential portfolio companies.

What types of clients do you represent?

Charles: We represent technology companies and emerging brands that are generally venture-backed, as well as the venture capital funds, corporations, and family offices that invest in and acquire these companies.

Paul: I work with a wide variety of clients in the startup space, from first-time entrepreneurs with exciting, new ideas looking for advice about how to turn those ideas into a company, to seasoned founders that have ridden the rollercoaster of the startup lifecycle many times.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

Charles: While I counsel clients on a variety of matters daily, I spend much of my time advising management or working on venture financings and mergers and acquisitions.

Paul: Most often, I work on various types of fundraising deals, which can take the form of simple agreements for future equity (a growing trend in Silicon Valley), traditional convertible notes, preferred stock financings, and secondary sales of stock. But in connection with such deals, a company sometimes also needs to reorganize as a new corporate entity, fundamentally rearrange its capitalization table, or create or amend the structures it was using to incentivize its employees. I help companies with each of these kinds of transactions as well.

How did you choose this practice area?

Charles: I started my career as a litigator and eventually realized that, for me, it was more rewarding to be convincing in a boardroom than in a court room. I saw the world moving quickly toward a focus on technology and fell in love with the variety of businesses upending existing models. The opportunity to strategically help an emerging company grow to its full potential—and see the founders succeed—is one that cannot be found in any other practice area. Working in this field allows me to apply both my technical legal expertise and my love for entrepreneurship.

Paul: I am a recovering litigator. The startup practice drew me in because it is one of the few practice areas in BigLaw where an entrepreneurial associate can bring in clients on a consistent basis very early in their career. As a litigator, I was seldom able to provide the type of advice that people in my network were looking for. As soon as I made the transition to the startup practice, I was almost immediately able to start providing useful information to many of my former college classmates who were transitioning to startups from business school, the consulting world, or a few years of engineering work at Fortune 500 companies. I felt like I was helping to build something exciting and useful. I had never felt quite the same way as a litigator.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Charles: My days are generally filled with client calls and meetings. I work closely with the other partners, counsel, and associates in my group on a daily basis, providing frequent oversight and mentoring.

Paul: On a typical day, I will email and call no fewer than five to seven clients, and I will counsel them on a wide range of topics, such as explaining the process for onboarding a new employee, figuring out how to approach a venture capitalist when looking for a new round of financing, revising a term sheet, coordinating a call with a patent specialist to help a client prepare to file a patent on a technological breakthrough, and revising materials that will be distributed at an upcoming meeting of the board of directors of a company. The diversity in the type of clients I work with (both the industry in which they work and the stage of development in which they find themselves) leads to a great amount of diversity in my everyday tasks.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Charles: There are a variety of law school classes that provide a good foundation for those interested in emerging companies work. The material taught in courses in securities law, corporations, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and intellectual property is all directly related to the work emerging company lawyers handle. I’d also recommend a course (or two) on behavioral psychology.

Paul: Experiences that put you directly in front of a client or that demand that you handle a high volume of client requests are great training opportunities for this practice. A smart, hard-working person can learn the legal skills needed to properly advise a client regarding technical legal questions, but working in a high-pace environment will help teach the interpersonal skills that are important for providing great client service. I also recommend that young attorneys work on developing their networking skills and gaining a grasp on the fundamentals of business and accounting.

What is the most challenging aspect of practicing in this area?

Charles: Emerging companies work is often fast paced, and lawyers regularly work under tight time constraints to get their work done. To be successful, a lawyer must be able to juggle competing client interests and priorities, while always keeping all clients’ needs in mind. Like many lawyers, I work in an area with an “on-demand” culture, so people expect quick responses to their questions and requests.

Paul: It can be difficult to manage the incredibly high volume of clients that we counsel in our practice, especially for young associates who are trying to learn the basics of this area of law. However, with good role models, associates can quickly pick up the strategies they need to handle the many demands on their time.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Charles: I enjoy many facets of my work, but I particularly like the diversity in my practice—I handle different tasks every day. In addition, I get to work with both new and well-established companies that can effect change in the world. I like to think that, through my work, I also have a part in making those changes happen.

Paul: That’s easy—the energy and creativity that seem to pour out of my clients embarking on new ventures. That positivity is infectious and motivating. But I also love that the structure of the practice allows young associates to build their own client bases. This practice area rewards entrepreneurship in a way and at a pace that is not often seen in other areas of law.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

Charles: I believe that as more and more companies consider themselves “technology companies,” the core legal services comprising the vertical (intellectual property, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, licensing and data privacy, capital markets, and IP litigation) will all continue to grow and become integral to corporate strategy. I think our vertical is expanding.

How is it different working with entrepreneurs in contrast to large corporate clients?

Charles: Working with entrepreneurs is a much more personal experience. I often become friends with founders and very much share in their excitement (and sometimes disappointment). This is very rewarding but can be challenging at times.

Paul: When working with entrepreneurs and younger startup companies, I often have a more direct line to the business executives who plan and execute the strategies for company growth than when I work with larger corporate clients. When working with more mature companies, the legal issues often get more complex, but my advice to management often gets filtered through in-house counsel.

Charles Torres, Partner, and Paul Navarro, Associate—Business

Recognized as a top attorney by The New York Enterprise Report, Charles Torres leads Perkins Coie’s east coast Emerging Companies & Venture Capital practice. He counsels emerging companies throughout all phases of growth, as well as the venture capital and angel investors that fund and acquire them. Charles helps startups achieve their goals by providing practical, stage-appropriate, business-oriented advice focused on a variety of general corporate and governance issues, including formation, board issues, equity and debt financings, and M&A exit events, to name a few areas. He was a founding partner of Women Innovate Mobile—a first-in-kind accelerator for female-founded companies—and serves on the steering committee of the firm’s LeadBetter program.

Paul Navarro provides practical business counseling to help emerging companies succeed in such areas as entity selection and formation, corporate governance, and company development. Paul advises and assists on early and late-stage venture/equity financings, mergers and acquisitions, and a variety of IP and other contract negotiations. His industry experience includes working with clients in the software and technology sectors, as well as the medical and entertainment industries. Paul also helps several venture funds in financings and new fund formations. For both startup and industry-leading companies, Paul has been the lead associate negotiating and drafting complex operating agreements, IP licenses, services/product purchase agreements, and joint venture agreements.

Related Vault Guides
Check out some of Vault's guides that are related to this field.
Top Ranked Firms
Check out the top-ranked law firms in Emerging Companies & Venture Capital.