What It Means When Law Firms And Startups Give Away Legal Documents


Editor’s note: Daniel Doktori is an associate in the New York startup practice at WilmerHale, a law firm, and the co-founder of the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project. 

Over the past five years, law firms in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston have put online – for free – the documents that startups need to execute basic legal transactions.

New sites, Cooley GO and WHLaunch, join first-movers Founders’ Workbench and Start-Up Forms Library, to enable entrepreneurs to incorporate their company, secure early-stage financing, hire employees and compensate them with stock options. SeriesSeed.com has emerged as an industry standard for documenting seed investments, and StartupCompanyLawer.com offers answers to over 100 frequently asked questions, along with a term-sheet generator.

But as big law firms mimic their small clients’ “freemium” business development model, they face increasing competition from startup companies seeking to disrupt the legal industry.

I interviewed several lawyers working…

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