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04/30/2004 - Legal Connections are Faust's Focus

The concept of the Terabyte Triangle has always included the "business cluster" surrounding broadband Internet access and Information Technology developers. The "business cluster" includes related services such as legal firms, accountants, marketing companies, writers, and artists. When Mary Walshok, PhD, Dean of Extended Studies at the University of California, San Diego and founder of UCSD Connect spoke at an INTEC gathering, she stressed the need for the "related services" to be available from the very beginning of the business startup process. She especially mentioned the need for funding, specialized accounting and legal support, and technical and marketing support.

Connect Northwest has grown out of the relationship with UCSD Connect. INTEC will take the lead in incubating Connect Northwest. The Connect Northwest program will be officially launched on Thursday May 20 at the LaunchPad 6.0 event being held at the Big Easy. For more information about the LaunchPad 6.0 event, go to: http://www.intec-center.org. http://www.intec-center.org/default.aspx

Steve Faust, Attorney at Law, is involved with the advisory board for Northwest Connect. In a conversation with Faust in the Fernwell Building, he identified many possible instances where a startup company would benefit from the services and guidance of an attorney. It's a long laundry list of items including formation of the business entity, agreements between the founders, and many aspects of technology licensing --- of both the technology for sale, and that which is needed to compliment and complete a product. Contracts for product manufacturing and distribution need special attention. The search for funding and relationships with investors and lenders may involve a lot of legal requirements.

According to Faust, the well put together startup will involve legal expertise from the very beginning. As a business attorney, Faust can help the client with the formation issues. First the attorney needs to understand the client's business goals and vision for "where the business is going." Then Faust can lead through how the little pieces fit into the big picture. Finally he can help with the business plan. "A good business plan," says Faust, "organizes the information so that someone who doesn't understand the technology will understand the business. If you're looking for an investor, you need a succinct and readable business plan.

According to Faust, if the startup plans to grow to the point of seeking either Angel or Venture Capital, the business needs to position itself for this from the beginning. The business structure, governance, and documentation all need to point in that direction. Above all, the business must maintain good, clean documentation. The company needs clear rights to all of its assets --- the documented right to its intellectual property, employment relationships, even its physical leases. From the legal standpoint, understanding the different types of investors is important to both the investor and the business owner. The individual owner's desires are important.

Though an experienced lawyer, Faust is a recent business start up in private law practice. Previously he spent fifteen years with Paine Hamblen Coffin Brooke & Miller LLP, then three years as general counsel for Avista Labs, now called ReliOn. "At Paine Hamblen, I had a lot of litigation experience as well as transactional and corporate work," says Faust. This experience makes it possible for him to look at business transactions, contracts, and day-to-day operations to see how it would "all play" if the business were ever sued.

Faust's desire is to work with businesses as if he were in-house counsel. He hopes to work closely with the client, help with on-going legal issues, and help the business client prosper. "It is very rewarding to work in that way --- as a real part of a team," says Faust. Too many business startups fail to work with legal counsel because of fear of cost, Faust hopes to work with the client in a mutually beneficial way.

To contact Steve Faust, call (509) 981-6296, or e-mail: grizfaust@earthlink.net.

Billie Moreland
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