From the outside looking in, the world of startups can feel informal: You meet your co-founder at a happy hour, your lead investor over Twitter DMs and focus more on launching a minimum viable product than buttoning up onboarding processes.

But that’s not where the story stops. When founders take the formal leap into entrepreneurship, there’s a whole host of (sometimes tedious) work that needs to be done — legally and professionally. And startup lawyers, specializing in the niche documents and processes behind startup-building, can be useful resources.

At TechCrunch Early Stage earlier this month, attorney Lindsey Mignano spoke about the specific work she does as a co-owner of a San Francisco-based women- and minority-owned corporate law firm for startups. The firm, Smith Shapourian Mignano PC, largely represents early-stage startups and microfunds, which means she can detail the timeline for when founders should think about startup law — and their costliest mistakes.

Legal fees are expensive, and no good lawyer will tell you otherwise. For startups, this creates tension: A founder can either hire a professional or turn to online websites or legal tech companies for a more affordable option. The latter may be more realistic for founders, especially in the early days, when every dollar matters.

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