Meet a great startup lawyer: Cynthia Hess

In late December, we launched our startup lawyer survey and to date we’ve received more than 1700 responses from startup leaders about hundreds of lawyers around the country and the world.

“Cynthia just gets it! She has ‘your’ hat on. She is not just doing a transaction. She is representing and working for you. Amazing!” Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of hint, inc.

Today we begin to publish the results of that survey, beginning with our first verified expert, a seasoned Silicon Valley attorney who has been working with all sizes of companies for two decades.

Cynthia Clarfield Hess has been a lawyer in Silicon Valley since 2000, working with all sizes of companies across their needs from company formation on. While you may see her name on various legal rankings services, she still splits her time between all stages of clients. </span>

Read on for more from Cynthia in the full interview, more founder reviews about her experience, as well as more details about her pricing and fee structures.


On simplicity early on

“Some founders think, ‘Let’s do something new and different. Let’s do this crazy kind of vesting or lots of bells and whistles on voting rights for common holders.’ I say try to avoid those things, especially in the early stage. Focus on your business and less on the legalities. We try to keep things as routine as possible to maximize efficiency so that founders aren’t spending their energy on the legal stuff and they can focus more on the business.”

On messy situations

“It’s oftentimes around the cap table — figuring out whether the cap table is accurate —we have had situations where we take over the legal work for a company and they think their cap table looks a certain way and they think these are their owners, and yet something was done wrong. For example, if the discount on conversion on a convertible note wasn’t calculated properly — and someone may actually be entitled to more shares, this could mean the representations that the company made in its financing weren’t accurate. We’ve had to go back and get releases from the parties involved, so that everyone understands that this is the state of affairs, and there are no rights to go back and ask for more.”

On startup client relationships

“I think startup clients like working with me because they know they’re not going to outgrow Fenwick or me. I’m going to be able to work with them all the way through their lifecycle, and there’s something comforting in knowing that when you start with us, we’ve got you covered.”

Below, you’ll find more founder reviews about Cynthia, the full interview, and more details about her pricing and fee structures.

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