So you’ve launched a startup and are enjoying some growth. Congrats.
But how confident are you that the service contract you drew up in your basement is airtight? If an outside vendor claimed you owe more money than you believe is right, could you defend your company?
These are the kinds of questions that haunt small business owners. A Brookline startup called Daily General Counsel, launching this week, aims to put their minds at ease by dispatching lawyers who will — as the name suggests — visit a company and play the role of an in-house attorney for a day, resolving as many issues as they can in eight hours for a flat fee of $1,500.
“We’re out to solve the bolt-upright problem — the thing that makes a business owner bolt upright in the middle of the night,” said Daily GC founder Jan Glassman.
Daily General Counsel isn’t right for every situation. For instance, my colleague, Mike Farrell, just wrote about Boston tech startup One Mighty Roar’s legal battle to keep the name of its app, You Rather, after being accused of copyright infringement by the maker of the popular party game Would You Rather. This is the kind of thing that drags on for a while, and requires a lawyer who will follow the case to its conclusion.
But other problems can be fixed quickly, Glassman said. In a single day, a Daily GC attorney might be able to buff up flimsy contract language, formulate a plan for negotiating the terms of a lease, and ensure that human resources policies comply with applicable laws.
These are the sorts of issues that Glassman and her husband and business partner, Joel Sowalsky, handled as general counsels for big companies before starting this new venture. For now, they are the only two attorneys on staff and performed legal services for about two dozen businesses during a beta test.
Adam Korngold, who owns Waves Car Wash in West Roxbury, was among the early clients. He’s starting a related business selling cash management software to other car wash companies, and said he and his partner needed a partnership agreement for themselves and a sales contract for their customers. (They did not, however, need any advice on dance moves. The Waves team is all set in that department.)
According to Korngold, Sowalsky borrowed a desk at Waves, completed both documents, and also found time to update the company’s corporate filings in the same day.
“I really liked that it was a fixed rate,” Korngold said. “There was no looking for a quote, no uncertainty.”
A $1,500 expense is not insignificant for many businesses. But a billing rate of less than $200 per hour counts as a relative bargain. And then there’s the potential cost of not hiring a lawyer, Glassman said.
“Everyone starts in their garage or kitchen with a passion,” she said. “They love making their product or delivering their service. But they don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know how many rights they’re giving away.”