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Pros and cons of joining a company as it's first lawyer? What title should I ask for if it's not yet clear that I will stay top lawyer as the company continues to grow?

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I’d get at least a vp title if not general counsel

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Glad you were successful. That would be frustrating

Pros: tons of personal growth and stretching into areas you have 0 experience with; You can talk out of your ass and no one knows if you’re full of shit; lots of exposure to different business units and stakeholders; should be a decent equity package if we’re talking a startup here.

Cons: possibility of lots of work; lots of shit will need to be fixed or patched over; you’ll have to build infrastructure from the ground up; people will routinely ignore you or “forget” to get your eyes on various contracts etc. Yesterday we received a subpoena in relation to a lawsuit that a vendor we work with is involved in and I had no records of us having any contract with the vendor. Turns out the point person signed the services contract herself without looping legal in. This is the type of stuff you’ll deal with.

That said. I’ve been sole counsel at my startup for close to 2 years and it’s been a blast and I’d make the same decision 10/10 times. Make sure you have competent outside counsel, they will be invaluable to you.

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When I joined as my company’s first lawyer, they didn’t really care what my title was. I agree with the others - go for GC or VP of Legal.

There can be a lot of freedom in being the company’s first lawyer, mostly because you are generally not compared to any predecessor and can be more present/responsive than outside counsel. But, depending on your org, you may have to constantly prove the need for your position to your peers. You also have to work harder to get people used to looping legal into decision-making. Overall I think it’s a net positive, but I work with good folks.

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