Chinh Pham got his first degree in genetics, but realized his real interest was the law as it applies to technology. Today, he combines his interests by working with a wide range of startups, including those in the life sciences, medical hardware and other industries where intellectual property defines a company from day one. As the chair of the emerging technology practice at international law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, he and his team provide a range of services to companies from the ground floor up; he also spends significant time with commercialization programs at top universities.
On common startup mistakes:
“I’d say it is important to get all the founders in place and on the same page very early on. We’ve seen so many situations where there’s some internal turmoil before the company even gets off the ground, and then the whole venture falls apart. I typically suggest that each team member be responsible for specific tasks, because not everyone is good at everything.
“We are med-tech entrepreneurs who have created six companies over the past decade. Chinh has been with us since the beginning and has been one of the most significant contributors to the value we have created.” Lishan Aklog, MD, New York, NY, Chairman & CEO PAVmed Inc
“I also find that many student entrepreneurs are in the United States on an academic F1 visa. They may not realize that while they may found a startup, an F1 visa may not allow them to work or be employed by the startup. Therefore, consultation with an immigration attorney may be needed.”
On the importance of IP to many startups:
“I divide the world into wet, under which life sciences fall, and dry, under which everything else falls. Regardless of the type of client, I’ve found that most often IP is fairly critical for their success, because as they’re thinking about fundraising, they need a solid IP portfolio for investors to look at because most of these investors, as you know, aren’t going to put money into a company that really doesn’t have any innovation.”
Below, you’ll find founder recommendations, the full interview, and more details like their pricing and fee structures.
This article is part of our ongoing series covering the early-stage startup lawyers who founders love to work with, based on this survey and our own research. The survey is open indefinitely so please fill it out if you haven’t already. If you’re trying to navigate the early-stage legal landmines, be sure to check out our growing set of in-depth articles, like this checklist of what you need to get done on the corporate side in your first years as a company.
Eric Eldon: First of all, how did you get into working with startups and within the wider world of the legal profession? I’d love to hear about your experiences working in Boston in particular as well.
Chinh Pham: My work with technology companies began while in law school in San Francisco back in the early 90s. As an intellectual property attorney, I’ve continued to work with technology companies, from startup phase to exit, throughout my entire career. Very early on in my legal career, an investor friend asked me about nanotechnology, which at that time, was a little-known but promising technology. I spent some time researching the nanotech industry and learning everything I could about the technology and its potential applications. Almost instantly, I was the nanotech expert at my firm and quickly became known as a nanotech specialist in the business world. That was an exciting time in my career, and I discovered that I loved the challenge and promise of emerging technologies, so I dedicated my practice to helping innovators develop, commercialize and protect their technologies.