Legal services for start-ups that support scalability
To give you the best opportunity to succeed you’ll need specific legal services for start-ups on:
Structuring ownership of your business.
We’ll provide guidance on 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 registering your 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.
Organising your company’s equity.
We’ll help you clarify the relationship between co-founders and put things into formal documents so that day-to-day decision making is problem-free, and the business is an attractive investment proposition. Our start-up lawyers can help you understand how shareholdings work, the difference between your preference and your non-voting shares, and help you unpick the mysteries of complex issues like vesting schedules and classes of shares.
Uncover funding and investment opportunities.
We can greatly improve your access to capital by making sure your company is eligible for these investment opportunities, such as schemes like the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). Our start-up lawyers can re-structure your company, so it pre-qualifies for the schemes and lands appropriate investments, thanks to tax reliefs available to investors to help you scale and grow.
Your intellectual property strategy.
We can help you understand who owns your business’s property and IP, so you avoid issues in funding and distracting squabbles. Fundamental to the success of your business will be organising 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.
Supporting your growing team.
Put your relationship with staff on a proper footing and make sure they feel valuable by putting incentive schemes in place that work for you and them. Our employment solicitors can draft standard policies for you, as well as contracts of employment and service contracts for directors. We can also provide advice on pensions, minimum wage and leave entitlements, incentive arrangements and employee share option schemes.
Data protection and GDPR compliance.
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 our specialist data protection solicitors trouble-shooting your website and, if you don’t already have them, putting together privacy policies, website use and GDPR policies, making sure your customer email lists are bullet-proof.
Funding rounds and venture capital.
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.
We can help you plan potential exit strategies. We’ll advise on structuring your business with an endgame in mind and advising you on earn-outs and tax-efficient schemes like Employee Ownership Trusts. If your start-up is eyeing the potential for a floatation, our start-up solicitors can also advise on IPOs including Main Market listings and the AIM.
What our clients say
We pride ourselves on delivering an excellent service for clients, but don’t just take our word for it.
Harper James provides my small growing business with a scalable, reliable, team-oriented approach to legal advice. Whenever we face a problem, I know that Harper James are there to provide helpful and cost-effective advice, to scope out the options, make clear the costs and risks, and give me the information I need to make decisions.
As a University spin-out getting the right team of lawyers to support our emerging business was fundamental and the team are always available to provide us with the invaluable guidance and support we require.
Our longstanding relationship has enabled us to get deals over the line quickly and efficiently, with minimum fuss or kickback from opposing lawyers representing the companies we’re investing in. I find the legal team at Harper James efficient, smart and personable. Speed is of the essence for early stage investing and Harper James recognises this and acts accordingly.
It's been a breath of fresh air to work with Harper James Solicitors. It's like having my own in-house counsel, but at a fraction of the cost. It's an invaluable service for any small business.
It’s the best experience I have ever had of obtaining legal advice and assistance. Straight forward and value for money. I don't worry about making the odd call to get some quick advice. Historically I have felt ripped off by the legal profession – so much so that I only used them if I absolutely had to. This has been a really good experience.
As a young and growing fintech company, there have been a number of legal matters that we have needed to manage; such as client contracts, employment contracts and fund raising from investors. We’ve used Harper James for around a year and they have provided us with very valuable support through several lenses, not least in our funding round in late 2017, where we raised £1million and Harper James managed the legal side of the transaction. We recommend them without hesitation.
The team at Harper James have demonstrated time and again that they have a deep understanding of the issues facing entrepreneurial businesses and their funding.
When we were in the process of raising funds for our business venture, we were fortunate enough to have the support of Harper James. Their advice and guidance were extremely beneficial to us, and we’ve been impressed by their responsive service.
Friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. Harper James Solicitors have provided invaluable advice and the necessary instruments to raise capital from investors for our startup. The firm will remain as our solicitors of choice for the future.
We are a small company and the process of setting up a company share scheme was pretty daunting. Abby Watson and Harper James Solicitors provided expert advice to ensure we understood the process and drafted all relevant documentation. We were very impressed with the service received and would recommend the firm to others.
Choosing Harper James was one of the best choices we made as a start-up. The firm has provided invaluable advice and insight throughout the early stages of our business.
As a young company, getting the right advice regarding staff, contracts, policies and procedures can be crucial. Harper James delivers this for us with professional, expert lawyers across all our desired areas, who are always able to provide all the support we need and more. This has enabled us to concentrate more on growing and developing our business.
Harper James solicitors don’t speak in the legalese which I have heard too many times from other solicitors and which is totally unhelpful. What I’m after is focused, considered advice about the specific situations that I face. By which I mean, do you think this is a good idea? Their response might be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. One word is often all I’m looking for! My solicitor gives a view and I really value that.
This is a key stage of ANB Sensors’ growth as an SME, because it saw us transferring from a research and development company to a commercial entity. It’s a major milestone for us. Having Harper James by our side is reassuring, as they’ve helped us ensure all our documentation and sales terms are both fair and reasonable and led us through the sales process.
Resolving legal issues for start-ups
Legal issues for start-ups as you launch, develop and grow are numerous and complex. Deciding to take your business to the next step by incorporating, taking on new partners or employees, or seeking further investment are key pinch-points in your 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 start-up lawyers can be your guides and mentors through the jungle of regulations that apply to business today, as well as the demands of investors as your business scales.
Who we help: From ambitious entrepreneurs to EIS investors
We have a proven track record supporting start-up businesses, but our expertise doesn’t end there. Due to our active involvement in the support networks available for start-ups, we have acted for: start-up companies, entrepreneurs, founders, boards and individual directors of early-stage companies, financial institutions, and investors considering investment under the EIS and SEIS schemes.
Why choose our start-up solicitors?
Harper James Solicitors are business and finance law specialists, with expertise in start-ups. Our start-up solicitors have the legal skills and experience to help founders who want to get things right from day one.
Plus, 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:
Abby Watson is a corporate solicitor, specialising in private equity investments, mergers & acquisitions, EMI share schemes, corporate finance and governance and more.View profile
Adam Kudryl is a Partner and Corporate & Commercial Solicitor at Harper James Solicitors, specialising in strategic investments, acquisitions and sales.View profile
IP, Commercial & Technology Associate Solicitor
Ed joins our commercial team and specialises in IT, IP and general technology related contracts, but can also advise on a range of commercial matters.View profile
Dispute Resolution Partner
Ian joined our dispute resolution team in 2016 and has over 20 years of experience in handling a broad range of commercial disputes.View profile
Jas is a corporate partner at Harper James Solicitors, advising on corporate governance, mergers & acquisitions, venture capital & investments.View profile
Intellectual Property Partner
Having previously worked at top 50 firm, Walker Morris, Lindsay specialises in IP strategy, dispute resolution and IP exploitation.View profile
Dispute Resolution Solicitor
Mark previously worked at Freeths LLP and Nabarro (which became CMS) prior to joining Harper James. His areas of expertise include complex contractual disputes, public procurement challenges, IT/Outsourcing & reputational managementView profile
Rana is a commercial solicitor specialising in commercial contracts, data protection and financial services.View profile
Business Immigration Solicitor
Rashid assists all types of employers with business immigration issues, including compliance issues and applications via the points-based system and sponsorship licences.View profile
IP & Commercial Technology Partner
Before joining us Rob worked for Santander bank as an IP/brand management lawyer and also at Shakespeare Martineau.View profile
As a previous partner at DLA Piper, Sarah comes with a rich pedigree in providing expert commercial services for her clients.View profile
Employment Law Solicitor
Sean previously worked for a leading national law firm in the employment team, ranked tier 1 in the Legal 500. He advises employers on all aspects of employment law from TUPE to tribunals.View profile
Employment Law Partner
Simon acts for employers of all sizes, particularly tech and manufacturing, and specialises in managing people matters, including TUPE, sales and acquisitions of companies, and restructures/redundancies.View profile
Corporate Solicitor & CEO
Toby Harper is the CEO & Founder of Harper James Solicitors, as well as a corporate & commercial solicitor. He specialises in venture capital and the tech sector.View profile
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.