Legal Services for Start-ups

Key facts: Start-up solicitors

In your first years as a start-up founder, from the moment you create your MVP through to your first funding round, few things will be more important to you than a knowledgeable and supportive start-up lawyer. To give you the best opportunity to succeed you’ll need expert legal advice on:

  • Deciding when (or whether) to incorporate, what kind of ownership structure suits you best, and who to put onto your board of directors.
  • Structuring your company’s equity and appropriate business’s legal documents such as shareholders agreements.
  • Making sure your company is eligible for investment opportunities.
  • Understanding who owns your business’s property and IP so you avoid issues in funding and distracting squabbles.
  • Putting your relationships with your staff on a proper footing and making sure your most important employees feel valuable by putting in place incentive schemes that work for you and them.
  • Ensuring you are compliant with data protection and GDPR.
  • How funding rounds work and the types of investments available.
  • And finally, planning potential exit strategies, including earn-outs and employee ownership trusts.

What we do: Start-up solicitors

Start-ups present fantastic opportunities for founders to profit from their business ideas. They also present complex issues as they launch, scale and grow. Deciding to take your business to the next step by incorporating, taking on new partners or employees, or seeking further investment offers are key pinch-points in the founder journey. Starting and growing a business needs careful planning to ensure that the platform of legal documents on which a company is built is solid. Our expert lawyers can be your guide and mentor through the jungle of regulations that apply to business today, as well as the demands of investors as your business scales.

Harper James are business and finance law specialists, with particular expertise in start-ups. Our start-up solicitors have the legal skills and experience to help companies who want to get things right from day one.

Our expert solicitors can help your start-up with:

  • You’ll need good advice when it comes to deciding when (or whether) to incorporate, what kind of ownership structure suits you best, and who to put onto your board of directors. We can help you by incorporating your company or limited liability partnership at Companies House, drafting a tailor-made Articles of Association or partnership agreement, and preparing other necessary documents such as shareholders’ agreements.
  • Structuring your company’s equity, clarifying the relationship between co-founders and putting things into formal documents so that day-to-day decision making is problem-free and the business is an attractive investment proposition. Our solicitors can help you understand how shareholdings work, know the difference between your preference and your non-voting shares, and unpick the mysteries of complex issues like vesting schedules and classes of shares. We’ll also be able to structure appropriate documents like shareholders agreements with you.
  • The funding options from schemes like the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). We can greatly improve your access to capital by making sure your company is eligible for these investment opportunities. Our lawyers can re-structure your company so it pre-qualifies for the schemes and land appropriate investments, thanks to the tax reliefs available to investors, to help you scale and grow.
  • Fundamental to the success of your business will be sorting out who owns what in terms of your company’s business property and IPR. Think about that piece of software that was developed by a freelancer, the pop-up gallery you hold on a short lease, or the customer list you brought along from your last job. Complications or disputes around IPR in things like software, trademarks or data can be damaging and disruptive, but using our specialist intellectual property lawyers can help you sort this out cleanly before it becomes as issue.
  • Your start-up’s employees are an essential part of your team. Our employment lawyers can draft standard employment policies for you, as well as contracts of employment and service contracts for directors, and advise on pensions, minimum wage and leave entitlements, incentive arrangements like the Enterprise Management Incentive (EMI) scheme and employee share option schemes.
  • We can advise on website issues and handle tricky questions arising from data protection and GDPR. By taking the mystery out of data protection, and making sure your internet platforms and customer interface are legally complaint, your users will feel safe dealing with you. This can include trouble-shooting your website and, if you don’t already have them, putting together privacy, website use and GDPR policies, making sure your customer email lists are bullet-proof.
  • Our highly-experienced Corporate lawyers can advise you on seed funding, angel investment, private equity, venture capital and how funding rounds work. We can help you understand the difference between seed and venture funding, detangle the intricacies of private and venture capital, and get you up to speed on the alphabet of funding rounds from A to B and beyond
  • Educating you so you know your preference from your liquidation shares. If your start-up is eyeing the potential for a floatation, our start-up solicitors can advise on IPOs including Main Market listings and the AIM.
  • Structuring your business with an end-game in mind, and advising you on earn-outs and tax-efficient schemes like Employee Ownership Trusts.

Who we help: From ambitious entrepreneurs to EIS investors

We have a proven track record supporting start-up businesses (take a look at our client testimonials below) but our expertise doesn’t end there. Due to our active involvement in the support networks available for start-ups our experience includes acting for:

  • Start-up companies
  • entrepreneurs
  • founders
  • boards and individual directors of early-stage companies
  • financial institutions
  • investors considering investment under the EIS and SEIS schemes

Venture Capital

As an expert start-up law firm, our solicitors advise seed enterprises, start-ups, boards, company directors and investors on the ways in which they can seek external investment. Whether you are a seed looking to launch, a start-up looking to grow your business, an early-stage company wanting to scale up, or an investor seeking a tax-efficient way to help business and enterprise, our experts offer both legal advice and hands-on support.

Why choose our start-up solicitors?

We’re a modern law firm with a difference. Our innovative remote operating model means that you can access expert City-grade legal advice from partner-level solicitors at a fraction of the cost of traditional law firms. Our senior solicitors have all been recruited from top 100 UK law firms or large international businesses. Find out more about our start-up lawyers here:

Pricing plans

Our three transparent pricing packages are designed to give you the widest possible access to high-quality legal advice, whatever the size and nature of your business:


Straightforward access to senior solicitors at a competitive rate.

An affordable solution for businesses needing one-off legal support. Receive ‘City’ partner-level expertise at a fraction of ‘City’ prices.


Have legal peace of mind for £189 per month with additional support from £99 per hour.

A monthly subscription legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses.


For businesses requiring 60+ hours of support a year, with prices equivalent to £99 per hour.

Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.

What our clients say

We pride ourselves on delivering an excellent service for clients, but don’t just take our word for it.

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A national law firm

We mainly work remotely, so we can work with you wherever you are. But we can arrange face-to-face meeting at our offices or a location of your choosing.

Our commercial lawyers are based in or close to major cities across the UK, providing expert legal advice to clients both locally and nationally.

Floor 2, Cavendish House, 39-41 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PP
Stirling House, Cambridge Innovation Park, Denny End Road, Waterbeach, Cambridge, CB25 9QE
10 Fitzroy Square, London, W1T 5HP
13th Floor, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester, M1 4BT
Harwell Innovation Centre, 173 Curie Avenue, Harwell, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QG
2-5 Velocity Tower, 1 St Mary’s Square, Sheffield, S1 4LP

Our other locations

Immeuble Danica B, 21, avenue Georges Pompidou, Lyon Cedex 03, Lyon, 69486