Lawyer Shopping: How to find a Good Green Law Firm?
Does the experience in cleantech law that West Coast law firms have make them a natural go-to for East Coast cleantech companies who are getting started?
Thanks for your question. There is no doubt that the West Coast – and particularly Silicon Valley – has historically attracted some of the most talented entrepreneurs in the world. Many innovative companies have been started there and investors, venture capitalists, and law firms that support those companies have certainly gained tons of experience over the years.
Even though lots of cleantech companies are sprouting up everyday across the sunny hills south of San Francisco, there are actually hundreds of pioneering green startups forming all across the US. (Here’s a map that shows the top cleantech companies in the US, and a CNN report that suggests NYC will be the next Silicon Valley).
While the physical location of a law firm may be important for clients who require regular in-person meetings with their lawyers, most cleantech startups are more concerned with their lawyer’s direct renewable energy experience rather than location. (By the way, you may be interested in this article about law firms going virtual!)
Here’s my advice: choosing a lawyer is a lot like choosing a doctor. If you break your leg on the way to your lawyer’s office, the first thing you’d probably do is look for an experienced orthopedist – not a veterinarian, neurologist, or dermatologist. You’d search for someone with a wealth of experience mending bones, who comes highly recommended by past patients, and is up-to-date on all the latest medical techniques.
So, if you are a solar startup looking for legal counsel to help you build your company, it would probably be best for you to find a smart, professional, responsive lawyer that has worked with numerous solar startup companies and understands the unique legal needs of the solar industry.
Cleantech and renewable energy law is changing very rapidly. Without a lawyer that is well informed about green funding opportunities and other specialized cleantech programs, you may miss out on opportunities that could dramatically affect the success of your company.
Another thing to keep in mind when shopping for a green law firm is that the lawyers actually have some cleantech experience. With the boom in the clean energy industry, some opportunistic lawyers that previously represented big oil interests have simply added the word “renewable” before the word “energy” on their business cards, and voila, a “renewable energy” practice is born.
I hope this helps your search for the perfect legal adviser for your cleantech company. Please feel free to be in touch if you’d like to talk more. Happy (lawyer) hunting!
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