Interview with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Bunker Labs Q&A with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP  

At Bunker Labs, one of our goals is to equip veteran entrepreneurs with the tools that are critical to making their start-ups a success right from the beginning. Fortunately, Bunker Labs PHL has the support from one of the top law firms in Philadelphia, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, to help throughout the process.  Their passion for helping entrepreneurs and veterans is why we are proud to have them as a Bunker Labs PHL sponsor.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Robert A. Mascioli, Partner, Dennis J. Brennan, Partner and Michelle L. Ferguson, Director of Department and Practice Group Administration, Business & Finance Department to discuss Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP ’s involvement with the veteran community, their motivation behind it, and gain insight on what they will discuss at the upcoming Bunker Brews Avoiding Legal Landmines on November 28th.


BL: “How does Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP  support the veteran community?”

SE: “We co-sponsor a regular bi-monthly legal clinic at a veterans’ multi-service center in Philadelphia through the Homeless Advocacy Project, a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization that provides legal and related services for homeless individuals and families and those at risk of homelessness.  Through this clinic, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP volunteer attorneys and others provide legal services on a pro bono basis to indigent veterans.  These legal services have included appeals of denials of veterans’ benefits, debt settlements, discharge upgrades, birth certificate applications, social security appeals, and other legal matters.”


BL: “What is the motivation behind Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP 's support of the veteran community?”

SE: “Our motivation is simply that it’s the least that we can do to help the men and women who do so much for our country.  We have employees, family members and friends who have served, and this is one of our ways of giving back.”


BL: “What drew your company to connect with Bunker Labs PHL?” 

SE: “We were introduced to Joe Witte by a mutual contact who thought we would “hit it off” and they were right. After meeting with Joe and listening to his story, the mission of Bunker Labs and the cool programs Joe and Bunker Labs PHL were planning to launch, we knew we had to get involved.  We have the same passion, commitment and dedication to helping entrepreneurs start companies, grow and succeed.”


BL: “Why is it important for companies like Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP to support veteran organizations?”

SE: “Veterans have sacrificed so much to protect and defend our rights and freedoms. In order for them to pursue a fulfilling life after their service ends, veterans may need assistance in various aspects of their lives.  Lawyers are uniquely positioned to assist them in securing benefits they are owed and filing many different types of claims on their behalf.  At Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, we view the pro bono work we do on behalf of veterans as both our duty and our pleasure.”

BL: “Could you provide a brief overview of the work you and your team do at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP?”

SE: “Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients particularly in core industries, including financial services, energy, higher education, insurance and life sciences. Our business attorneys focus on general corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, securities, tax, and other transactional matters. Our clients include: new ventures, emerging businesses and venture capital funds, private equity funds and sponsors, lenders, larger private businesses and investors, and public companies. We counsel our clients through day-to-day business issues and through large transactions, bringing the firm’s numerous practitioners across a broad range of complementary areas — such as labor and employment, tax, antitrust, litigation, and intellectual property — to bear on any issue or transaction as needed.” 


BL: “Can you talk a little bit about what you do specifically for start-ups and entrepreneurs?”

SE: “Specific to the entrepreneurial space, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP has a team of attorneys who counsel entrepreneurs and start-up companies from the germination of their ideas through the life-cycle of their companies.  Offering advice and guidance on key legal issues through these stages, however, is just the starting point of the firm’s work.” 


BL: “Could you expand on that? How do you help navigate the obstacles that start-ups face?”

SE: “Start-up team members offer programming on topics critical to success for a start-up so entrepreneurs gain insight on how to handle the complex landscape around company formation, equity, and financing transactions.  Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP lawyers also open their networks to entrepreneurs, helping to make introductions to potential partners, including potential financial sources, customers and strategic partners, such as universities and mature companies.” 


BL: “You will be talking at the Legal Landmines Bunker Brews. Can you offer a few messages you hope the audience walks away with after that panel discussion?”

SE: “It’s kind of funny, since the title of the panel is “Legal Landmines,” but often the most important takeaways that participants walk away with are not legal items at all. As attorneys/advisors, while we may not have direct experience battling through the ins and outs of a start-up, we see and feel what our clients experience, whether through their successes or their failures.  I think one important understanding I’d like veteran entrepreneurs in attendance to pick up is that it is critical to the success of an entrepreneur to surround himself/herself early in the process with quality advisors, whether those are lawyers or other important pieces like industry experts, accountants and other experienced entrepreneurs.  Many, if not all, of these advisors will provide advice and/or service at a reduced cost, and in many instances, for no cost.  Another really important takeaway is for founders/partners at the beginning of an endeavor together to have the hard conversations up-front and spell out their roles and relationship to each other and the company and what happens if things don’t work out between them exactly as planned.”


BL: “What are the top legal concerns that veteran entrepreneurs should be aware of as they are starting and growing their business?”

SE: “There are so many aspects of business operations that are thrust upon an entrepreneur through the growth process, as they are tasked with handling sales, marketing, accounting, technology, fund-raising, hiring and firing and execution of the company’s services or business model.  From a legal perspective, three top concerns veteran entrepreneurs need to make sure they understand are what it means to grant sweat equity to those that assist the company without being paid (money), the legal aspects of raising capital and the hiring and firing process.”