The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Business Law by Constance Bagley (Yale School of Management) and Craig Dauchy (Cooley LLP) is, in my view, a great book for anyone interested in starting their own venture, especially if you don’t have a ton of cash to blow on legal fees (which, let’s face it, most people don’t) — and you should get it as soon as you think you want to do it, not once you’ve already started (though it will still be helpful then as well) since there’s a lot of pre-incorporation issues to be considered. Obviously, it doesn’t mean you won’t need a lawyer’s help at all any more, but at least it can give you a heads up regarding potential issues to flag to your lawyer or things to consider or will decrease the number of times you have to ask questions (and get charged for it). A lot of things relating to legal concerns require planning ahead and this book can help you do that effectively and efficiently.
Even though I’m not practicing any more and have no intention of doing so, I spent a very brief time practicing corporate, securities and start-up law, and whenever I get asked questions nowadays, I give my best answer and refer people to this book if they want to do some digging on their own, or if they think they’ll need a wider range of information going forward. To be totally honest, I still haven’t read through about 25% percent of it, since it’s more of a textbook/reference type of text rather than, you know, casual reading material.
I also recommend this book to any lawyer friends who want a primer on start-up law; it’s useful as far as giving you a heads up on issue-flagging, though on a day-to-day basis your concerns will likely be more of the contract-drafting sort and this book does not cover questions of that variety.
Overall, The Entrepreneur’s Gude is well-organized, accessible, useful to lawyers and non-lawyers alike, and has a well-laid out table of contents (though the index could stand to be more thorough). It is not the most fun book I’ve ever read. But it is surprisingly concise, and actually very readable, considering how much and what it covers. It’s written by a lawyer and a business professor, so one of it’s strengths is that it obviously covers the law, but also takes into consideration business concerns as well. Furthermore, it tries to note things like general business practices and how things generally play out, though consulting a good start-up lawyer on those sorts of things will almost definitely give you a much fuller picture. All in all, a very high recommendation.
Alternatively, if you have questions regarding this topic and aren’t quite ready to commit to a $80+ book, try this site instead for some very good advice, provided by one of the top start-up lawyers in Silicon Valley.