Competency and Capacity

Rule 1.1: Competence states that

A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.


When representing a start-up, how does one meet the requirement of competence? Think of all of the areas of law that an entrepreneurship law attorney will encounter: tax law, securities law, employment law, intellectual property law, data privacy law, contract law, etc. Now think of all of those areas not just from a federal level standpoint, but also at a state level. When you consider state laws too, now you’ve significantly increased the areas/laws you need to be competent in. Sometimes cities also add to the mix with their ordinances.

From a business development standpoint, you’d like to represent your client in every legal matter it encounters. And to the extent you can reach the requisite level of competence through reasonable preparation, you can do so. But sometimes you are in a position where the question requires a specialist. You should be able to spot issues, but you may not know how to resolve them. For instance, perhaps you see something that you think could be a technical tax or patent issue. If you are not a tax attorney or not a member of the patent bar, you should consult with attorneys who specialize in these areas. When you seek to add other attorneys to your team, Rule 1.1 comments provide guidance on Retaining and Contracting with Other Lawyers.

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To the extent possible under law, Samantha Prince has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to Entrepreneurship Law: Company Creation, except where otherwise noted.