Some of the legal tasks that all startups face are:

  1. Hiring people: always have a contract that concretely sets out your employees’ responsibilities and compensation. The Employee Agreement allows you to do that clearly and concisely. Alongside that offer letter, you can also have employees sign a Confidential Information and Invention Agreement for Employees. We believe that Docracy’s Hacker Employment Contract is a great and fair standard for technical hires.
  2. Working with contractors: startups often hire independent contractors such as freelance developers and designers, engaged via an Independent Contractor Agreement Template or a Consulting Agreement for a Fixed Price Contract which set out the details of your working relationship with your consultant, including what services he or she will provide you, how much compensation he or she will receive, who will own the intellectual property rights to the work the consultant creates, and how each party can go about terminating the working relationship.
  3. Working with partners: third parties (including potential business partners, advisors and contractors) may have access to information about your startup that you don’t want publicly disclosed, which is why you may want to have them sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

A handy document, in case your startup is buying technology from others, is a Short IP Assignment Agreement which describes the intellectual property you are receiving and ensures that whoever is giving it to you has the legal right to do so.

Do you know any other good resources on legal issues for startups? Make a suggestion or ask a question!