Associate Professor of Practice | Director, Startup Legal Garage
San Francisco, CA, UNITED STATES
Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org / 415-565-4827 / Office 112-200
M.A., British and American Literature
B.A., British and American Literature
Interviewed by KTVU regarding Uber's autonomous vehicle launch in San Francisco without applying for a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.view more
We live in a time of fast-paced change and societal upheaval. Whether it’s choosing whom to vote for, documenting personal stories, finding friends and spouses, commercializing personal assets, or creating innovative products and services, traditional behaviors have given way to new opportunities and methods of accomplishing these activities. Moreover, these goals can be accomplished much more quickly than was ever possible previously. As a result, the existing structure of laws and rules that benefit society by ensuring, inter alia, public safety, competitive markets, environmental health, and access to justice for all have come under increased pressure. The clash is most visible in the public confrontations between companies in the sharing economy and the state and local governments that have been on the front lines as entire industries have been disrupted.
This essay examines the conflict between innovators and regulators, exploring the reasons behind it and analyzing the problems from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Although this chapter is intended as a thought piece, and not an exhaustive look at the issues, I do propose a possible path forward that I hope will stimulate further research and analysis, leading ultimately to a solution that all stakeholders will embrace.
To foster innovation, we must find solutions to provide effective, affordable legal services on a large scale to early-stage companies from all backgrounds, while ensuring that companies have the opportunity to receive individualized and accurate advice. Otherwise, legal issues will continue to be a strong impediment to responsible and sustainable startup formation. Using survey data collected from the Startup Legal Garage — our client based education program at UC Hastings College of the Law that brings startups, students, and supervising attorneys together to resolve legal needs for early-stage startups — we explore the extent of the legal issues facing startups and the burden these issues place on growing companies. We find that almost 90% of the legal matters addressed by Startup Legal Garage teams fall within the categories of general corporate formation, contracts, and non-patent intellectual property. We also discovered that startups generally had difficulty identifying their most pressing legal needs. Startups identified fewer than half of the issues eventually addressed through our program, and over 70% of companies received assistance with at least one issue not listed on their intake application. Most importantly, we find that addressing legal needs, while necessary, presents a costly burden for emerging companies. As a proxy for the expense of ground-level legal work for a startup, we estimate that Startup Legal Garage services are worth between $17,000 and $23,000 on average. Considering that the startups in our sample typically have very limited outside funding, these costs represent an enormous and exclusionary obstacle to growth.view more
The startup industry has matured rapidly over the past decade, becoming a subject of substantial interest to the business community, academics, and the general public alike. Yet, the set of organizations that has sprouted up around the startup industry – dedicated to supporting the growth of fledgling ventures – has received less attention. Divided roughly into the three categories of co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators, these support organizations all aim to “catalyze” the success of new startups. Thus, we have coined the term “Catalyst” to refer to them collectively. In the present study, we used a qualitative interview method to obtain a more comprehensive picture of how Catalysts have impacted the entrepreneurial ecosystem. In particular, we found a discrepancy between the narrative propagated by Catalyst personnel and the actual data when it came to the issue of gender. While respondents described a collaborative, open environment cultivated by Catalysts that should be particularly advantageous to women, we found that the stark gender disparity observed in the startup and technology realms in general was maintained in the Catalyst microcosm. We speculate as to possible reasons behind this disconnect between narrative and reality, and suggest policy approaches for alleviating the gender gap in the Catalyst participant population.view more