Deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer like Aaron Kelly to help with your entertainment startup is not an easy one. While you will need an attorney who is well versed in startup legalities, engaging a counselor for your entertainment startup is a conscious choice. While it is important to understand that startups do need legal support, having an attorney on retainer for all the legal support you need may not be necessary. Considerations such as cost, time investment, and the risk-benefit balance all come into play.

Here we consider some of the important steps (or issues) a startup must face and determine whether or not it is advisable to hire a lawyer.

I am forming my own company. In most cases, you won’t need a lawyer to get your company started.  Legal advice may be important for you to understand the different types of businesses available such as sole proprietorship, LLC, and incorporation and to effectively weight the specific advantages and disadvantages of each for your purposes. 

An exception to this rule of thumb where founders of a company and their investors decide to come together at the start. The determination of equity rights might need to be systematized and set in stone at the onset. In the entertainment business, lawyers facilitate and negotiate distribution deals for entertainment projects. A lawyer might also be important for advising on the corporate structure or the place of incorporation.  

Another scenario is the Initial Coin Offering, commonly referred to as an ICO, where new startups sell their underlying crypto tokens in exchange for bitcoin. In that case, legal advice for the purpose of ICO crypto reviews in this fundraising mechanism will be important. In addition to this, lawyers can help work on more traditional financing agreements for crowdfunding, sponsorship, bank loans, co-production investments, and grants.

I will be creating an internet protocol (IP). An internet protocol is a set of rules that govern internet activity and facilitate completion of a variety of actions on the Web. An IP address, then, is part of the systematically laid out, interconnected grid that governs online communications. It identifies both initiating devices and various internet destinations, making two-way communication possible. In many scenarios, a lawyer is not required for startups that conduct business online. But if your IP is at the core of your business and the IP is unique to the business, you should hire an attorney. If your company is affirmative in one area, you may want to look to alternatives for legal support like the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) legal assistance programs.

I will be hiring employees. Developing an employment agreement is an important step, but the document itself is not particularly complicated. While there is value in having effective and well-designed employment contracts, and there may be value in hiring a lawyer to develop and negotiate one, this may not always be necessary. Many startups opt to hire contractors at the onset of their businesses, which will provide flexibility as the company goes through growing pains. The agreement with a contractor is very different than the agreement that is reached with an employee.

In the entertainment business, however, entertainment transactional attorneys are well versed in and enforce industry norms and regulations. Depending on the project, lawyers can spend a great deal of time on the phone or in email correspondence with clients and their attorneys, working through contract and deal issues. Problems may arise related to production and other phases of the entertainment project itself. As a result, many entertainment startups find that hiring an attorney to draft and negotiate development and production contracts such as writer agreements, talent agreements, and recording agreements can be well worth the legal budget they set aside. Few CEOs want to be preparing form agreements for clients, such as appearance releases, location releases, and license agreements in addition to the many other things required of them.

I intend to make my business profitable. Once your business begins to generate income, it is a good idea to talk to both attorneys and financial planners who will help you understand everything from fixed and variable annuities to the value and applications of intellectual property law to the ways in which your business may benefit from the newly revised tax codes. The significance of hiring dependable, knowledgeable counsel in the area of finances cannot be overstated, especially as your business grows.

What sector of the entertainment industry is your business? What advice do you have for a startup?