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How to Choose Employee Ownership Consultants

3. Choosing a Lawyer or Plan Design Expert

In most cases, the attorney will draft your plan documents, keep you apprised of changes in the law that require plan amendments, provide legal advice about plan design and operation, and coordinate the transaction (you can, however, also choose a financial advisor to coordinate matters). A company creating an ESOP should always use a law firm for plan drafting, etc.; a company creating a broad-based equity option plan might use a specialist in designing these plans who is not an attorney, but have an attorney review the plan. (For simplicity, we will assume here you are using a law firm, but if not, you can make a mental substitution for "plan design expert.")

The most important initial task of the law firm will be to draft plan documents. This should be a participative process. Most attorneys will have a standard plan they will apply to your situation, so writing the document is itself not time-consuming. Instead, time will be spent working with you to establish the attributes of the plan, such as allocation, vesting, voting, distribution, equity award exercise, and governance rules. The more you know in advance about these issues, the more the plan will conform to what you really want and the less expensive the attorney's fee will be.

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