Questions about the legal requirements surrounding the establishment, incorporation or funding of a startup may be among the most common and most challenging that entrepreneurs face. There's the general distrust of lawyers, alongside the sense - true or not - that legal advice will be too costly.
LawPivot tackles this problem by providing a place where companies, but especially startups, can ask legal questions and get crowdsourced answers from qualified lawyers. LawPivot aims to ease some of the obstacles - financial, but also logistical - that make finding a lawyer so difficult.
The co-founders, Jay Mandal and Nitin Gupta, are both lawyers. Mandal was the lead of Apple's mergers and acquisitions team, and Gupta was an IP attorney at a several national firms. They bring to the table, then, an understanding of the needs of entrepreneurs and lawyers, the latter of whom are finding their own profession changing and are needing new ways to develop their businesses.
How It Works
Unlike other Q&A sites, the questions you pose to LawPivot are confidential. You tag your questions with relevant keywords, which helps the site's recommendation engine identify the best lawyers for the job. It's the addition of recommendations and algorithms to this sort of online inquiry that LawPivot's Gupta describes as "the next direction of Q&A."
You can ask questions about a variety of legal topics that concern your startup: contracts, stock issues, employment, licensing, patents, trademarks, real estate, just to name a few. But when you tag your question and request a lawyer, you needn't only do so based on subject matter expertise. You can indicate, for example, that you need someone who's quick to respond.
You can then choose to send your question to the lawyers you choose or the ones LawPivot recommends, and you'll get an email when a lawyer responds to your question.
Through the end of the month, LawPivot is free. And it's restricted to questions that address California law (so, California companies and California lawyers.) The company, which just received a round of funding from Google Ventures, does plan to expand beyond California eventually (and if you're a company outside of California who has a question about a California legal matter, you're still welcome to sign up). Following its free trial period, LawPivot will charge companies on either a per question or per monthly basis.