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I'm considering a contract with a very small startup (in the US). The compensation is largely equity-based, as opposed to salary. I understand the offer and have strong trust in the other owners (I've worked with them previously). I don't, however, have a huge amount of trust that the small lawyer hired by the company did a great job with the contract. The primary risk I'm concerned about it that an acquiring company might take advantage of a poorly written contract to not pay me.

What services are available to an individual to have this contract reviewed and ensure it protects my interests?

How important is it to get the contract reviewed at this point? Is there any recourse in a future dispute for the legalese not matching the lay-person's understanding of the contract?

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This is what lawyers are for. There is no reasonable alternative to paying a lawyer with expertise in corporate and employment law to review the contract to ensure it protects your interests. Even if you did think the lawyer hired by the company was competent, he is not looking out for your individual interests because you didn't pay him.

There are many reasons that contracts and their clauses can be voided or interpreted in different ways. But if it ever comes to a dispute it's too late to hire a lawyer to reconcile the contract to your understanding. At that point all you can do is spend a lot more money trying to litigate it into being interpreted your way. And by the time you're in litigation, it has been said, "only the lawyers win."

  • Ditto! Having an attorney review the contract is imperative! – gracey209 Sep 2 '15 at 13:07
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What services are available to an individual to have this contract reviewed and ensure it protects my interests?

A lawyer

How important is it to get the contract reviewed at this point? Is there any recourse in a future dispute for the legalese not matching the lay-person's understanding of the contract?

The question of how important is it is up to you. It sounds to me that you are totally right to be concerned. The situation you are imagining is exactly the sort of thing that happens. I say this without assuming any ill-will on the part of the acquiring company.

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