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.


Corporate Counsel (M&A) @

PropTech Leaders

Counsel, Legal & Business Affairs @ Global Entertainment Agency

The Fashion Crowd

In House M&A Counsel @ Top Private Equity Fund

In House Without the Pay Cut

Associate General Counsel, Product and Regulatory @ Intersection of FinTech and PropTech

You're #1!

Associate General Counsel @ Late-stage Industry Disruptor

Very Tech-y

Product Counsel @ Blockchain Platform

The Solution

Commercial Counsel @ Healthcare Data Startup

Fight Diseases with Data

Director, Legal & Business Affairs @ Digital Entertainment Leader


Corporate Counsel @ Alternative Investment Platform

Democratizing Investments

Deputy General Counsel - Corporate Development & Governance @ Heavy-hitting Unicorn

IPO Bound

Commercial AGC @ Iconic Fine Jewelry Brand

Put a Ring On It

Sr. Corporate Counsel @ OwnBackup, high-growth data techco

SaaS in Hypergrowth Mode

1st Legal Hire @ Alpaca - Series B FinTech

You're #1!

M&A Counsel @ Tech-y Venture Capital Fund (Portuguese Speaker)

VC is Heating Up

AGC, Payments Product Counsel @ FinTech "Unicorn"

Parlez vous MTL, KYC, & AML?

M&A Counsel @ Tech-y Venture Capital Fund

Unicorn Hunters

Private Funds Counsel @ Private Equity & Venture Capital Group

Break into VC

M&A Transactions Counsel @ Private Equity & Venture Capital Group

The Mathletes of PE

Commercial Counsel @ Video Gaming Unicorn

Ready Player One?

Litigation Counsel @ International Gaming Company

Rarer than Rare

Corporate Counsel, Tech & SaaS @ Social App

Put Yourself Out There

Corporate M&A Counsel @ E-Commerce Unicorn

Career Launcher

Data & Product Counsel @ Zocdoc

First Name in Health-Tech

Legal Counsel @ The Hut Group (Beauty & Wellbeing E-Commerce)

Bevy of Beauty

Life Sciences Associate @ Top Startups Firm

The Antidote to Big Pharma

Associate Attorney @ Leading Investment Firm

For the Apex Preditors

Corporate Counsel @ Pharmaceutical Heavy-Weight

Hard Sciences Background not Required

General Counsel @ FinTech SaaS Startup

Go Digital

VP of Legal @ E-Commerce Consumer Lending Platform

Add to Cart

CFIUS Compliance @ Elite Tech Client

More Glamorous than Government

Emerging Companies Associate @ Elite Startup-Focused Firm

Keep EC/VC Weird

Futures Trading Compliance @ Crypto Trading Platform

The Brand Name in Crypto

Switch to FinTech from Finance @ AmLaw 100 Law Firm

FinTech Fix

Emerging Companies Capital Markets Associate @ Startups Focused Firm

Pivot to Cooler Clients

Senior In-House Counsel @ Digital Health Leader

Not Your Grandma's Healthcare

In-House Commercial Transactions Attorney @ Digital Health Leader

Healthcare Meets Tech

In-House Life Science Corporate Counsel @ Pharmaceutical Company

Future of Pharma

Exclusive: ECVC Associate at Elite Firm's LA Office

Best Partner Opportunity in SoCal

Program Lawyer / Event Content Director @ TechGC

By GCs, For GCs

In-House Corporate Counsel at Venture Fund

VC Meets FinTech

Startup & Media Associate @ Arts & Entertainment-Focused Boutique

Très Chic

Director of Business & Legal @ Media Streaming Company

Binge Worthy

Privacy Counsel @ International Gaming Company

The Next Big Thing in Gaming

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

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

Partner Recruiting Coordinator @ Whistler Partners

The Good Life

Legal Recruiter

New York or Los Angeles