Startup GCs Share Their Top Business Reads for Lawyers  

Sean Burke | 09.11.20

A few days ago, an in-house general counsel friend asked me if there were any books I could recommend to him (or any attorney looking to go in-house) that could make him more commercially or business minded?

It's a great question.

As much as I love to have an opinion on everything, I didn't actually have anything to recommend. So I crowd sourced, asking my network of tech and startup GCs (as well as one law firm partner) if they had any ideas. I of course got back a few "you can't teach someone how to be business minded" sort of answers. But for those of you out there who still believe in the power of improving yourself through education, here's what our friends suggested:

GC of a B2B platform:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things - Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers [Ben Horowitz]

Good to Great - Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't [Jim Collins]

Ogilvy on Advertising [David Ogilvy]

Assistant GC of a tech giant

The Inside Counsel Revolution: Resolving the Partner-Guardian Tension [Ben W. Heineman, Jr.] ***this one was popular and made a few people's lists

GC of a major beverage company:

Lawyering: A Realistic Approach to Legal Practice [James Freund]

Privacy Partner at AmLaw 50 Firm:

How to Win Friends and Influence People [Dale Carnegie]

The Prince [Machiavelli]

Assistant GC of a news organization:

The Generalist Counsel: How Leading General Counsel are Shaping Tomorrow's Companies  [Prashat Dubey and Eva Kripalani]

Shoe Dog - A Memoir by the Creator of Nike [Phil Knight]

Legal Counsel at B2B startup:

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires [Tim Wu]

Capital in the Twenty-First Century [Thomas Piketty]

The Four - The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google [Scott Galloway]

Legal Counsel at a network security startup:

Building an Outstanding Legal Team: Battle-Tested Strategies from a General Counsel [Bjarne P. Tellmann]

Corporate Counsel of a healthcare startup:

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business [Gino Wickman]

Associate General Counsel of a financial services startup:

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses [Eric Ries]

Senior Counsel at a hospitality group:

Grit [Angela Duckworth]


So, there you have it. 16 suggested reads to help you think more like a legal-minded business adviser than a mere lawyer. And when you've read them, reach out and we'll talk about your next move.


Commercial Counsel @ Healthcare Data Startup

Combat COVID with Data

Legal Counsel @ The Trevor Project (Nonprofit for LGBTQ Youth)

Make a Difference

EXCLUSIVE: General Counsel @ Medical Device Startup

Future of Beauty

EXCLUSIVE: Head of FinTech @ Financial Institution Client

The Pinnacle of FinTech

In-House Tech Transactions Attorney @ Venture Fund

VC with a Vision

Senior In-House Counsel @ Digital Health Leader

Not Your Grandma's Healthcare

In-House Commercial Transactions Attorney @ Digital Health Leader

Healthcare Meets Tech

Exclusive: ECVC Associate at Elite Firm's LA Office

Best Partner Opportunity in SoCal

In-House Corporate Counsel at Venture Fund

VC Meets FinTech

In-House Life Science Corporate Counsel @ Pharmaceutical Company

Future of Pharma

Startup & Media Associate @ Arts & Entertainment-Focused Boutique

Très Chic

Futures Trading Compliance @ Crypto Trading Platform

The Brand Name in Crypto

Director of Business & Legal @ Media Streaming Company

Binge Worthy

Privacy Counsel @ International Gaming Company

The Next Big Thing in Gaming

Associate @ Hollywood Entertainment Boutique

Break Into Entertainment

IP & Tech Litigation opp at a Silicon Valley tech Firm

The Move Before You Go In House

Privacy Partner @ Bay Area AmLaw 50 Firm

Plug and Play

Biotech Late Stage/Cap Markets Partner

Use Your Expertise

Business & Legal Affairs @ AdTech Market Leader

Digital Giants

Big Money Job at a Cutting Edge Biotech

Drugs are Fun!

Senior Counsel @ Brainy FinTech Startup

Front Line Negotiations

In-House FinTech Bankruptcy Counsel

Can bankruptcy lawyers go in-house? YES!

Senior In-house Counsel @ Edgy FinTech Shop

Global Platform

The Right Bankruptcy & Reorganization Practice For You

Restructuring Your Own Career

PE M&A Partner Day 1 @ Top Growth Equity Practice

Title & Platform - Walk in as Partner

Less Finance, More Fintech

Go Digital

Litigation For Entertainment & The Arts

The Muse

General Counsel @ Digital Currency Trading Firm

Lead the Revolution

General Counsel @ Socially Conscious Fintech Startup

The Real Deal

Corporate/Fintech Associate @ Lifestyle Law Firm

Living in Style

Switch to FinTech deals

FinTech Fix

Use Your Science Degree

Back to School

IP Counsel @ Tier 1 Unicorn

Top Secret

Switch To Tech Transactions, Multiply Your In-house Options

The Solution

IP Counsel @ Tech Accelerator

Very Tech-y

Privacy & Tech Transactions Counsel @ Interactive Gaming Company

Going Global

New Media IP Transactions Associate @ Tech-leader

The Future is Now

Corporate Counsel @ Digital Marketing Startup

Launching Pad

Switch from Corporate/IP to Advertising

Change Gears

Corporate & IP Counsel @ Media & Entertainment Leader

Heavy Hitter

Digital Advertising Counsel @ Health & Wellness Startup

The Good Life

Advertising, Marketing & Entertainment Associate

Advertising Injection

Media, Entertainment & Sports Associate @ Prominent Firm


Counsel @ Series B Social Impact Startup

Be a Trailblazer

Switch from Capital Markets to Emerging Companies

ECVC Injection

Corporate Counsel @ Late-stage Workspace Startup

Enter the World of Startups

Associate General Counsel @ Venture Fund

Career Launcher

Outside General Counsel @Boutique Startup & Venture Firm

New School

Startup & Venture Capital Associate @ Elite Startup-Focused Firm

The Best of the Best

Legal Recruiter

New York or Los Angeles