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By Startup Issues

If you recognize this post’s title, then you are always welcome at my table. For those of you in the dark, the title of this post is the secret code from the video game Contra. The Contra secret code let the video game player begin Contra with 30 lives.

30 lives on Contra was virtual invincibility. Enter the secret code, you will beat the game. (Presuming of course, you have an ounce of video game skills.)

Unfortunately, there is no 30 lives cheat code that can be woven into your startup legal documents. Whether you got your documents on the cheap from LegalZoom or you paid top dollar for a large law firm to draft them, your legal docs are not a shield of invincibility. Your startup can have the prettiest set of legal documents ever drafted and your startup still may not beat the game.

Instead, startup legal documents are a safety net.

What if a co-founder decides to bolt? Good startup legal documents make sure your startup doesn’t free fall to the ground (i.e., vesting schedule and company repurchase option). What if your startup’s rockstar developer claims ownership of the startup’s IP? Good startup legal documents make sure your startup doesn’t go down in flames (i.e., inventions assignment agreement).

Legal documents assist your startup along its path, but they don’t guarantee your startup will be successful. I’m a startup lawyer and earn my living drafting documents for startups. But I never have–and never will–draft a legal document containing anything equivalent to the Contra 30 lives secret code.

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