dcsimg

Career Story: General Counsel For A Technology Start-Up

General Counsel For A Technology Start-Up

Job Title: General Counsel Of A Start-Up Company

Type of Company: My company makes light-based dermatologic devices (e.g., light-based hair removal, wrinkle removal, etc.) for sale to consumers via well-known retail businesses.

Education: BS, Electrical Engineering, UMass-Lowell •• MBA, Boston University •• JD, Suffolk University Law School (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked as an electrical engineer for about eight years on radar, communications, and computer projects involving military systems. I then moved on to managing projects that centered on developing and selling desktop and server computers for a few years. Finally, I worked as a patent attorney at a large company, then as a patent attorney for a couple of large law firms in Boston, and most recently as the general counsel (responsible for all legal activity) at a couple of start-up companies in the greater Boston area.

Job Tasks: As General Counsel, I am responsible for all of the company's legal activities. These include writing and negotiating agreements regarding employees, outside contractors, confidential disclosures of sensitive company information to other companies, the business relationship between companies, insurance issues, patent issues, and litigation issues (among others). Many of the employee agreements are relatively straightforward, but agreements governing the ways in which multiple companies work together and that specify all of the obligations and rights of the parties can be much more difficult and may take many months and occasionally years to complete. Our company operates in an environment where competitors are prompt to litigate, especially over patent rights (which protect a company's inventions), so I often advise our engineers how to work around and avoid or minimize exposure to a competitor's patents, challenge the validity of some patents at the U.S. Patent Office and other foreign patent offices, and if necessary defend the company in court. I also write and file patent applications on behalf of my company in the U.S. and foreign patent offices. There have been several occasions where I've been listed as an inventor on the company's patents because I am the one who came up with the inventive idea. Overall, this job involves a combination of legal, business, and technological expertise that takes many years to develop. But the journey continues to be very interesting and intellectually challenging.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are helping a company develop and bring products to the market that never existed before. It is very fulfilling to hear how excited our prospective customers are when they try out our devices during our market testing activities. Being able to participate in engineering, business, and legal activities of a start-up company is also an extremely valuable experience, since you get a sense of what it takes to run a small company and deliver a product to market that has a reasonably good chance of succeeding.

The worst part of working in a small company, regardless of the type of job you do, is that you always have to be careful not to spend money unless it is absolutely necessary, which can be frustrating if you want to research some new materials or technology. As General Counsel, I have to be careful about not spending too much money on outside lawyers, so I usually do most of the legal work myself and only use our outside counsel as absolutely needed. Further, I can't file patent applications to protect our inventions in every country that I would like to because these applications each cost a significant amount of money.

Job Tips: When working with companies that rely heavily on technology, it is very beneficial to have a strong educational background in that or a related technology. If possible, it is also great to have work experience in a technical and/or business capacity before getting into law, because this experience and educational training will serve you well when you advise the executives of the company you work for. As you can imagine, most of the top business executives are very bright people who have substantial business experience, so you need to develop a broad base of technical and business experience in order to properly advise them. During your initial development, it is very important to find a mentor to help guide your learning and advise you on how to progress on your career path.

Additional Thoughts: This job is extremely demanding and has a lot of exposure, so if you do it well, you will be handsomely rewarded (both financially and personally). However, if you are not properly prepared and your advice and actions are ineffectual, you can be quickly replaced with another candidate. The job also requires long hours and a continuing commitment to improve. You will encounter numerous ethical issues where you will have to make difficult choices and walk a path with slippery footing. Notwithstanding the difficulties, this job can be extremely fulfilling personally and financially, so if you are a self-motivated and hard working individual with strong educational capabilities, then jump in and enjoy the ride.

Popular Schools offering Law School Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

  • Programs: Juris Master: International Legal Studies, Juris Master: American Legal Studies, Associate of Arts: Paralegal Studies, more...
  • Degrees: Certificate, Associate, Bachelor, Master
Platt College
Alhambra, Anaheim, Ontario, Riverside

Turn your talents into a career at nationally recognized and accredited Platt College.

  • Programs: Paralegal Studies
  • Degrees: Associate

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

  • Programs: Jurisprudence with concentration in Legal Studies (Bachelor of Science) - Online, Legal Studies - Homeland Security (Master of Science) - Online, Legal Studies - Law & Public Policy (Master of Science) - Online, more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master
Fremont College
Los Angeles

Fremont College traces its roots to Platt College’s founding in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1879, and the Southern California branch campus was established in 1986.

  • Programs:
  • Degrees:

Grantham University's 100% accredited online degrees are convenient, portable and designed so you can fit education into your life instead of arranging life around your education.

  • Programs: Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice, Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Associate

Colorado State University-Global Campus

Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) recently received state approval to enroll students with little to no prior college experience. To help ensure student success, the university has created a program especially for these students who plan on starting their college experience for the first time with us.

  • Programs: BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration, Master - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Administration
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master
Argosy University
Los Angeles, Ontario, Orange, Phoenix, San Diego

Welcome to Argosy University

Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges:  College of Behavioral Sciences, Graduate School of Business and Management, College of Education,  College of Health Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Creative Arts and Design, College of Clinical Psychology and Western State College of Law at Argosy University as well as certificate programs in many areas.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice (BS), Criminal Justice (BS) (Online)
  • Degrees: Bachelor

See What’s Possible When You Earn a Degree at Florida Tech 100% Online

  • Programs: Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice/Homeland Security , Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Degrees: Associate, Bachelor

Baker College is proud to be the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. With one of the highest graduate employment rates in the country, our mission is to help our students find meaningful employment.

  • Programs: Criminal Justice - Bachelor, Law Enforcement Academy (Police) - Bachelor
  • Degrees: Bachelor
San Joaquin Valley College
Bakersfield, Lancaster, Ontario, Visalia

San Joaquin Valley College - A Private Junior College.

  • Programs: Degree - Criminal Justice: Corrections
  • Degrees: Associate
Matching School Ads

Additional Career Stories for Lawyers

The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.

All Types

You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Lawyers, including:

Back to Top
SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104