For "other" startups whose product/funding appear to be uncertain and demand that I sign an NDA, I started requesting a lawyer lookover fee for the issuing party. Note, I'm upfront and actually tell them this is what my attorney charges to lookover an NDA.

Note - I am bootstrapping my own startup while offering expertise to contract technical software development services for other startups and companies.

I've had some nasty responses from such parties. I'm not actively looking for work, and they are the one requesting my time. Sadly, sometimes these people were once "San Francisco friends."

How would you deal with such situations - politically sensitively?

Note: these people are not necessarily "clients", but potential prospective clients. Some of them strong sell me to the point where it feels like they are trying to extort me to work for them.


2 Answers 2


Shrug, Smile, and say

"I'm happy to look over your NDA. This is what I do. Just like I would never expect you to provide me services for free, I expect to be compensated when my services are provided."

Then move on if they are still argumentative.

--- and that'll be $3 for looking over your question :) ----

  • Oh, to be clear, I build software - I'm not a lawyer. Like, I'm upfront about the cost my attorney bills for NDA lookovers. And people get angry about that. I guess the thing I don't understand is why they think they are entitled to legal protection and I don't?
    – ina
    Dec 9, 2017 at 0:06
  • Some people are just self-involved and see the implication that you want an attorney to review a contract as some inference that they are being dishonest. It makes no sense, but it happens.
    – Scott
    Dec 9, 2017 at 1:29
  • How would you be politically sensitive in dealing with such a situation
    – ina
    Dec 9, 2017 at 2:21
  • 1
    This isn't really a discussion forum. StackExchange sites adhere to the Question <> Answer format. I'm afraid this is venturing into discussion. Truth of the matter is, if someone's going to be upset that you ask to be paid for your services, or more so, that you expect to NOT pay for legal services they want to "borrow", well, they are going to be upset. I don't think you can be "politically sensitive" with those types of individuals. "It costs me $xx to have my legal team look over an NDA. All I ask is that you over that fee." If that's met with argument... I'd just exit the conversation.
    – Scott
    Dec 11, 2017 at 17:56
  • @ina "why they think they are entitled to legal protection and I don't?" They have already paid their lawyer to right he NDA for their legal protection, if you want your own protection, you need to pay for it yourself.
    – cdkMoose
    Dec 11, 2017 at 19:22

This review is for your benefit, not theirs. You are not providing a service for them here, you are managing your own business. To some extent, they don't care how well you review it as long as you sign it. The exposure is yours so why should they pay for it.

Costs like this should be accounted for in your operating budget and feed into your rates, but should not be billed directly to the client any more than you would bill them for your professional insurance or other business costs.

  • Fear: What if the client is possibly a penniless startup whose backup goal is to just enslave or sue you? It happens a lot in 1-person software contracting that the client doesn't exactly have their finance figured out. For larger clients, I eat the lawyer fee, but for this type of penurious client, I feel like this is one way to filter through whether they are legit or not by asking them to pay the fee.
    – ina
    Dec 14, 2017 at 10:35
  • also, the NDA they typically send looks generic. also, badly formatted. etc.
    – ina
    Dec 14, 2017 at 10:37
  • Regardless of the state of the client, this review is for your benefit not theirs. You should not be charging clients for items or actions that are for your benefit. After all, there is no requirement from their side that you have a lawyer review the NDA. Their only requirement is that you sign it
    – cdkMoose
    Dec 14, 2017 at 11:27
  • I've updated my question to reflect the circumstances. Note, these are not people whom I would want to take on as clients, primarily because I am uncertain if they can pay. If they really want me to do work for them, then I don't feel that asking for a lawyer lookover fee for their "generic NDA" is amiss.
    – ina
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:14
  • I guess I should also add as an addendum, there are people who seem to want to extort me to work for them. (High demand for software development in the expertise field I am known for I guess)
    – ina
    Dec 16, 2017 at 2:16

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