Dec 8, 2020 • 39M

🔊 Podcast #8 - Forward's Thomas Scott & Matt Gipple on Blending Tech Culture with Legal Principles

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  • Forward is a revolutionary preventive healthcare membership that puts you in control of your health, with world-class doctors supported by technology.

  • Lawyers at startups are responsible for making things happen - this means nonstop learning and deciding where and when to take risks

  • Learn how to show where legal should and shouldn't be used

  • Don't underestimate the importance of intellectual curiosity

  • Communicate directly and with a belief in your objective

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Matt Gipple and Thomas Scott, leading lawyers at Forward, discuss some common questions concerning the legal side of tech startups. 

Entering the Tech Space 

  • It is important to understand the language of engineering in order to understand the dynamics of the space

    • “Engineering is the function of a company, so you have to learn how engineers think and talk and what motivates them”

  • Try to set yourself up environment where persistent, perpetual learning is encouraged 

The Role of A Lawyer in a Highly Regulated Startup

  • In this scenario, lawyers are responsible for making things happen 

    • Constantly helping your company figure out what rules cover their product/initiative and what you need to get done to launch

    • Being able to take the necessary risks to keep the company and culture progressing forward 

      • “For companies that are small and trying to grow, there is risk all over the place, but there is also risk in not stepping forward”

Performing in Multiple Roles 

  • It is important to learn to frame tasks in terms of tradeoffs

    •  Ex: “For the first time, legal will go through this with you, but after that it won’t make sense to pay lawyers to do this”

  • Analyzing what the company is ready for and when 

    • Having an idea of what a mature company looks like, and knowing “when is the right time” to start doing something can be really important 

On Culture and Tone 

  • Two of the most important qualities a person can have in the legal startup space are a comfort with change and an intellectual curiosity

    • The people who end up being the best fit are almost always nerds about something 

  • For a culture in a legal team, you want people who develop relationships and dialogues around questions instead of finding narrow answers 

  • Don’t underestimate the downside cost of hiring someone who isn’t the right fit 

Approaching Regulatory Issues in an Unfamiliar Industry

  • Do as much reading as possible, conferences, talking to people in the space, learning the buzzwords

  • Lean on outside counsel to give you context 

  • “You hired me because you think I'm great [as a generalist], but I'm going to spend money getting smart on these [specific] issues, and you want me to do that”

  • Go to first principles 

    • “What are the underlying things that a regulator would be worried about?” 

  • Reason by analogy 

  • Approaching regulators with a straightforward and honest philosophy

    • We believe we have a service that’s going to be really powerful and valuable to people, and we’re not afraid of that or ashamed of that or trying to hide anything” 

    • Be very clear and direct, don’t try to play games or omit things

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