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Dec 10

An incubator blacklists a law firm

TechCrunch reported that The Founder Institute blacklisted Gunderson Dettmer, a reputable VC-focused law firm for having:

caused problems for Founders around the country. In New York, Gunderson has told Founders that Class F stock hurts entrepreneurs and allegedly spread negative rumors about other law firms to secure clients from the program. In San Diego, associates at Gunderson billed Founders for cosmetic changes to template agreements that have been accepted “as is” by dozens of lawyers from other firms across the country. In the Bay Area, Gunderson billed multiple rounds of cosmetic changes to standard investment agreements that caused at least one Graduate financing to fall apart needlessly. The Institute has contacted various attorneys at Gunderson and had unsatisfactory responses.

I’ve never had any dealings with Gunderson (apart from hearing one of their partners present about the firm once), but I was still happy to see below the TC article a real flood of comments from clients and former clients expressing how much of a great experience they had with them. E.g:

In fact, GD single-handedly saved our Series B financing deal with a heroic, creative, out-of-the-box solution on a midnight “party line” call with 2 VC firms, 2 law firms, and 2 founders. Additionally, in a handful of other separate cases, GD has generously done me a number of favors (some gratis) that has helped minimize if not eliminate costs and friction.

I’m a bit surprised by the experiences depicted by FI as my take on GD is consistent with other founders’ experiences that I’ve heard and I’d be happy to share more with anyone who contacts me directly. My guess is that, much like any firm (i.e. VC, accounting, etc), what really matters are the people you work with and I can vouch for every attorney I’ve worked with at GD.

I guess the two things here are: when evaluating whether to pick a firm, solicit multiple opinions; and often it’s the particular partner you work with rather than the firm you work with (although the higher caliber the firm, the greater the chance that the partner you get, if picked at random, is going to be a gun).

  7:53pm  •  Law  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment