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Meet some of our Chicago Startup Lawyers

Curt B. on ContractsCounsel
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5.0 (3)
Member Since:
March 25, 2023

Curt B.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Los Angeles, California
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, DC, FL, IL, MI
UCLA School of Law

Curt Brown has experience advising clients on a variety of franchising, business litigation, transactional, and securities law matters. Mr. Brown's accolades include: - Super Lawyers Rising Star - California Lawyer of the Year by The Daily Journal - Pro Bono Attorney of the Year the USC Public Interest Law Fund Curt started his legal career in the Los Angeles office of the prestigious firm of Irell & Manella LLP, where his practice focused on a wide variety of complex civil litigation matters, including securities litigation, antitrust, trademark, bankruptcy, and class action defense. Mr. Brown also has experience advising mergers and acquisitions and international companies concerning cyber liability and class action defense. He is admitted in California, Florida, D.C., Washington, Illinois, Colorado, and Michigan.

Frank V. on ContractsCounsel
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4.0 (1)
Member Since:
August 17, 2023

Frank V.

Partner
Free Consultation
Chicago, IL
15 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
University of Illinois

Navy veteran with 14 years experience practicing law in Chicago.

John B. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
June 21, 2023

John B.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Indianapolis, IN
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL, IN
University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

I am an attorney with over 13 years experience licensed in both Illinois and Indiana. I spent the early part of my career as a civil litigation attorney. Eventually, I moved into an in-house role, specifically as general counsel, to help companies avoid the pains of litigation. In doing so, I gained significant experience in executive leadership, corporate governance, risk management and cybersecurity/privacy. I bring this wealth of experience to my client engagements to not only resolve the immediate issue, but help implement lasting improvements in practices to avoid similar problems going forward.

Daniel K. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
August 9, 2023

Daniel K.

Founder and Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Chicago
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL, NJ, PA
Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

My practice focuses on business and commercial litigation. I have worked with companies of all sizes from sole member LLCs to those in the Fortune 500. I've advised clients on mergers, equity issuances, commercial transactions, joint ventures, employment issues, and non-competition. I've also drafted and negotiated the underlying agreements for these transactions and more.

Megan W. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
July 5, 2023

Megan W.

Principal Attorney
Free Consultation
Aurora, IL
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul University College of Law

My solo attorney law office is focused heavily on Family Law, but I also do residential real estate, and prepare Wills & Trusts.

Karen H. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
July 23, 2023

Karen H.

Former Division General Counsel
Free Consultation
Chicago
43 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

During my tenure as VP & Division General Counsel of PepsiCo Inc. in Chicago, I built upon my diverse career overseeing legal matters for both the domestic and international businesses of PepsiCo and The Quaker Oats Co. My extensive practice areas included M&A, contracts, competition, NDAs, regulatory compliance, consumer product & protection, environmental, patents, and advertising regulations. Throughout my professional journey, I navigated legal complexities associated with an eclectic range of products, spanning juices, sports drinks, cereals, snacks, needlepoint kits, canned goods, eyeglasses, men's suits, car seats and toys. For further information, see my LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/karen-hunter-a700179

Brett S. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
September 15, 2023

Brett S.

Litigation and Contract Attorney
Free Consultation
Chicago, Illinois
6 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
University of Illinois

I attended the University of Illinois- College of Law on a full merit scholarship. While in law school, I was a 711 Attorney at the Lake County State's Attorney's Office, specializing in traffic and misdemeanor cases. After graduation, I served as in-house counsel for one of the largest insurance companies in the world, managing thousands of cases from initial intake to trial. Upon leaving this position, I accepted a role as Legal Counsel to the Illinois Senate Minority Leader. There, I advised Senators on legislative matters, labor and employment law, and complex constitutional questions. After leaving public service, I accepted a role at a mid-size Chicago-based law firm, where I practice insurance defense and litigation. In addition to this, I also serve as outside general counsel to a food brokerage business, where I handle all of their labor and employment matters.

Charles M. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
July 26, 2023

Charles M.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Chicago
21 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul University

Mr. McElvenny has extensive experience handling and developing strategy for complex commercial and real estate cases. He’s drafted hundreds of complaints ranging from simple breaches of contract to complex commercial claims including breach of fiduciary duty, constructive trusts and misappropriation of trade secrets. He has an excellent record in trial, arbitration and mediation. He also has significant experience in motion practice in both state and federal court. Through his work in corporate law, Mr. McElvenny has developed considerable experience with Limited Liability Company member disputes and general corporate governance. He’s drafted a number of industry-specific documents such as Operating Agreements (for Limited Liability Companies), commercial leases, settlement agreements and employment contracts. Mr. McElvenny has also represented criminal defendants in felony matters and assisted in the defense of civil matters arising from alleged SEC violations. He has represented individuals appearing before the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation as a result of SEC proceedings. After graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy, Mr. McElvenny proceeded from Loyola University-Chicago to DePaul University College of Law, receiving his JD from that institution in 2002. In 2010, he earned his Master’s of Science in Accounting from Loyola University-Chicago’s Graduate School of Business. Mr. McElvenny was selected to Illinois’ Super Lawyers Rising Stars in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Timothy J. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
August 1, 2023

Timothy J.

Corporate Counsel
Free Consultation
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
8 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL, IL, WI
Illinois Institute of Technology: Chicago-Kent College of Law

Financial Services, Business, Corporate, Personal Injury, and Healthcare. I've represented fortune 100 companies and defended individuals in personal debt litigation. Wide breadth of experience, ready to assist.

Dennis W. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
August 2, 2023

Dennis W.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Chicago/Schaumburg
31 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
The John Marshall Law School

2008 - Present: Sole Practitioner – Dennis W. Winkler, P.C. Practice primarily in finance and business transactions, as well as commercial real estate transactions. Represent developers, investors, lenders, and businesses, in such matters as: corporate entity selection, drafting and negotiating complex asset purchase agreements, corporate mergers and sales, stock purchase agreements, and various other business contracts for closely related businesses. Involved in a variety of real estate developments, multi-family apartment buildings, construction and acquisition financing, commercial leasing, sophisticated workout transactions, joint ventures, and tax-deferred exchanges. Advise on tax and other savings incentives available to business owners and real estate owners in Illinois. Advise companies involved in related real estate activities such as sales, leasing, property management, brokerage, and construction. Tax experience that includes the representation of taxpayers in State and Federal controversies including: sales/excess tax disputes and responsible parties’ tax assessment protest. Additionally, Dennis has experience in the protest of real estate taxes of commercial and multi-family real estate. As a legal and business advisor, Dennis is committed to helping clients find, develop, and close deals that further their business objectives. Dennis regularly advises entrepreneurs and closely held businesses on matters incidental to their day-to-day business operations as well as their capital raising and start-up needs, corporate structure, private equity raises, and operating agreements. Much like general counsel, Dennis’s breadth of experience allows him to not only provide strategic planning and routine business transactional support to companies, but he also regularly advises on a number of unique issues facing companies by spotting issues and engaging specialists when needed, such as intellectual property, environmental, and bankruptcy counsel. As such, Dennis has been actively involved in sales and acquisitions of manufacturing companies, trucking companies, and logistics companies.

Ronald P. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
August 10, 2023

Ronald P.

Associate General Counsel
Free Consultation
Woodridge, IL
43 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
Loyola University of Chicago Law School

Senior experienced contracts/transactions attorney in the Software Technology space. Also very versed in general corporate legal matters relating to business operations.

Andre T. on ContractsCounsel
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Member Since:
September 6, 2023

Andre T.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Chicago
31 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL, MO
University of Missouri - Columbia

Commercial Litigation attorney providing advice and counsel to management regarding employment related matters and risk management issues

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Startup Legal Questions and Answers

Startup

LLC

Illinois

Asked on Aug 8, 2023

LLC and management structure?

I am in the process of starting a business and am considering forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). I want to understand the management structure of an LLC and how it works in practice. I am interested in how the management structure can help protect me from personal liability, and how it can provide a framework for decision-making and dispute resolution.

Talin H.

Answered Aug 25, 2023

Hi, congrats on starting a business! You're asking all of the right questions. The short answer is that your LLC operating agreement can spell out in as much detail as you want what decisions the Manager of the LLC is free to make on their own, and what decisions require a vote from the other Members. You can also elect to have a multi-manager LLC, in which each Manager is responsible for different aspects of the business, such as day-to-day operations versus overall business strategy versus capital raising. Again, each one of these Manager roles can specifically delineate what decisions and actions the Manager can take automatically, without other Members' prior approval. I specialize in business and corporate transactions and have drafted 100s of LLC operating agreements. I would be delighted to help you. Please reach out at talin@hitiklaw.com or call my office at (312)685-2292.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Startup

Equity Agreement

Massachusetts

Asked on Oct 25, 2021

What is the best way to receive equity compensation for work as a consultant?

I work as a fractional CFO to startup companies providing monthly services for a fixed fee. I'm looking to put in place an agreement where I receive a fixed rate of cash compensation each month, along with a fixed dollar rate of equity compensation each month. Given that these are startups, the valuation is generally not known at the time of the agreement. What is the best way to structure this arangement?

Moss S.

Answered Nov 30, 2021

It is always difficult to set a fair compensation package when a valuation of a company for equity purposes is unknown. Normally when funding a startup company, investors are given a valuation for their investment should the company be successful. If this is not ascertainable, I would suggest setting forth certain milestones of the amount of time expended and relate that to a percentage of equity in the company.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Startup

C Corp

Ohio

Asked on May 22, 2023

C corp and equity dilution?

I am an entrepreneur who is in the process of forming a C Corp. I am looking to raise capital to fund my business and I am considering issuing equity to potential investors. I am concerned that issuing equity to investors could lead to dilution of my ownership, so I am looking for legal advice on the best way to structure my equity offerings to minimize dilution.

Paul S.

Answered Jun 23, 2023

If you want to avoid dilution, then you need to fund the business with your own resources, and pay all your workers with money rather than equity. Otherwise, when building a business, dilution is simply a reality you have to live with. You can start out with a large amount of ownership, for example, 80% of the authorized shares, but over time dilution is inevitable. Which would you rather have, 90% of a company worth $200,000, or 55% of a company worth $1 million?

Read 1 attorney answer>

Startup

Convertible Note

New York

Asked on Mar 30, 2021

Do startups use convertible notes?

I am working to figure out what I should use for a group of investors I am speaking to about my startup. We're a technology company that is very early on. We want to raise a bit of money so we can further develop our software and pay the founders.

Ramsey T.

Answered Mar 30, 2021

Start-ups do raise capital through the use of Convertible Notes. Convertible Notes are starting to fade as the preferred sort of convertible instrument for start-ups and as SAFES become more prevalent. Convertible Notes are still quite common in more "traditional" start-up industries, such as those that involve real estate, manufacturing and other legacy industries.

Read 1 attorney answer>

Startup

Convertible Note

California

Asked on Jul 30, 2023

Convertible note vs. equity financing?

I am an entrepreneur and I am in the process of raising capital for my startup. I am considering both convertible note and equity financing options and am trying to decide which one is best suited for my company. I need to understand the key differences between the two options to make an informed decision.

Thaddeus W.

Answered Sep 8, 2023

Good question. Convertible notes (as well as SAFE's, discussed below) differ from equity in several respects. The most fundamental difference is that a convertible note is debt. A second major difference is that, although the note is debt, its terms include the noteholder's right to acquire an equity position in the future; if a certain event later occurs (defined in the note, but typically the sale of preferred stock to a future investor (e.g. a venture capital firm), but also a sale of the company can have a similar effect), this will trigger the note to convert into equity and the note is "satisfied" ... that is, the debt is extinguished when the note converts and the holder thereby becomes an equity holder (typically coming to own shares of preferred stock very similar to that issued to the future investors in that triggering event). These two differences are related to a third. A convertible note is often issued without a valuation of the company. For example, when a startup business has no operating history, it is impossible for the startup founders or the investor to decide what the company is worth. Equity cannot be issued for a fair market value (FMV), since there is no basis to determine what the FMV is. A convertible note resolves that by giving the investor (the note holder) the right to convert the note into equity later on, when another investor and the company can agree on a company valuation. In other words, the convertible note allows the company to "kick the can (of valuation) down the road" to be dealt with at another time. But, since a convertible note is debt, is has a repayment provision, and normally carries interest. This means that the note is carried on the company's balance sheet as debt, and presents the company with the future obligation to repay the note if a conversion event has not happened before the note's maturity date. So, SAFE's are often used, especially now that they have become so familiar to investors. (SAFE stands for Simple Agreement for Future Equity). Essentially, as SAFE is a convertible note without the debt features. A SAFE carries no interest and does not have to be repaid. The investor in a SAFE will normally be sophisticated and able to assess the chances the company will do well enough for a conversion event (the issuance of preferred stock, or a sale of the company) to result in the investor's SAFE converting, and thus give the investor comfort that would otherwise be lacking in an instrument that has no repayment obligation. Like a convertible note, a SAFE kicks the can of valuation down the road, where a valuation can later be determined by the company and a future investor. Founders should exercise caution in issuing convertible notes or SAFE's. Among other reasons, founders commonly do not appreciate the impact that convertible notes or SAFE's can have on the founders' own ownership. Convertible notes and SAFE's often include a feature called a "valuation cap." This can result in surprising dilution, as well as the issuance of equity to the converting note or SAFE holder at what is effectively a very low price per share, costing the company far more than the founders may have expected. Also, notes and SAFE's with very similar, but different, terms can result in a complicated capitalization table, making negotiations with venture capital firms later on more difficult, an equity transaction more complex, and thus the process more time-consuming and (therefore) more expensive.

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