In episode two of Lean Law, Mark Mohler told us that – in the Internet age – it is becoming increasingly viable to do much of your simple legal work online and for free. In this episode of Lean Law, we sit down with Mark Mohler as he tells us about the best free resources to do your own contracts and documents and what to watch out for when you’re not consulting with a lawyer.
Not only are there plenty of sites that give legal template for free, simple searches for document titles can yield products that, with only a few changes, can suit your company just as well. Mohler says that these searches can also yield templates or completed documents produced by some of the biggest and most sophisticated companies.
The most accessible and frequently-needed documents Mohler sees are often employment agreements, which can be very state-specific. Ones that are more readily found that don’t need to be state specific include non-disclosure agreements, non-compete documents and documents outlining assignment of intellectual property.
Mohler recommends that all contracts be reviewed by a lawyer but, as that is often not a realistic possibility, he says that companies should document what they’re doing. “If you don’t have a lawyer at the early stages of a company,” Mohler says, “even the back of a napkin, signed off by people, is better than nothing.”
And if you’re raising capital investment, there are free tools available to help prepare you for the expectations. The National Venture Capital Association, for example, provides template term sheets that give standard market terms, though they can be fairly complicated. There are also individuals within the venture capital community who share their experiences: Mohler recommends Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures in particular.