The reality for most tech start-ups is that they won’t ever need a tech-focused attorney. Just because you’ve built an app doesn’t mean you need an App Lawyer. Still, even though the majority of your questions and concerns are going to involve good old fashioned business law issues, you may prefer to talk to a lawyer who better “speaks your language,” and lucky for you we have some ’round here who claim to do so.
You may be asking yourself, “when do I need a lawyer?” In turn, a lawyer is going to tell you that if you are asking that question, you already need one. If you want peace of mind, sure, consult a lawyer for any and every question, just remember they charge by the tenth of the hour (that means they bill in six minute increments). Lawyers get paid to handle details that you can’t or don’t want to handle yourself, so while you are paying for their time, you are also buying back your own time in the process. Be judicious in your use of your lawyer (be prepared with smart, direct questions before calling) and you’ll be fine. Also, be sympathetic: their job is much, much more boring than yours…you are basically paying them to do your homework for you. Does that sound fun?
So without (much) further ado, here are your Roanoke-Blacksburg-NRV Legal All-Stars, Tech Division! (A bit more ado: in truth, this is just a list of local attorneys claiming some sort of tech experience, not an endorsement of their legal skills; also, please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, these are just some names to begin your search).
Gentry Locke The list has to start with Gentry Locke, as they are the biggest law firm in town. Accordingly, they probably have the highest rates. But if you want the security of having a big, powerful law firm on your side, these are the folks to call. Also, unlike a lot of firms that generally list IP or Business amongst their services, Gentry Locke also specifically touts experience with Software & Technology (and for a law firm, their site is pretty cool).
Woods Rogers The list has to include these guys second, as they are the second biggest firm in town. How would you pick between Woods and Gentry? Why are we pretending this is a legit question for you to ask? Until you get a call from Mark Zuckerberg inquiring about an acquisition, save your money…there are cheaper legal options.
Also, if you want to know the name of another big firm that you shouldn’t bother considering, there is LeCairRyan. Not bothering to provide a link. They are headquartered in Richmond and have offices everywhere, including a smallish outpost in Roanoke.
Ready for something different? How about Mitchell Law? Jeff Mitchell is a sole practitioner in Blacksburg who is “passionate about working with emerging growth companies.” He also has a twitter presence. Seems to be into baseball.
Ugh. Can we be done now? I came up with this long ass list of attorneys, but writing up notes for all these guys…alright, one more. Creekmore is similar to Mitchell Law: they are based in Blacksburg and court start-ups. However, the team is larger, and they have an art gallery or something in their office.
God, what an onerous task I set for myself. But I’ve written this much, might as well post it. I hope this is helpful, but it probably isn’t.
If you think there is a firm that should be listed, put it in a comment, and I’ll see about putting them in a follow-up post.