Tell us about your current role as a General Counsel…

I practice as a fractional general counsel for various marketplace startups, including Sittercity, Sweeps, AngeLink and others. I also run Marketplace Risk, which is a platform that provides risk management and legal resources to marketplace startup founders and operators.

How does your industry background prepare you for the GC role?

I was an IP generalist at K&L Gates before going in-house in 2010 at Sittercity, which was the largest childcare marketplace in the US before being acquired by Bright Horizons (NYSE: BFAM). As the first lawyer, I was tasked with developing the legal function, with a big focus on risk management, trust & safety, compliance and legal strategies for what was then a pretty novel business model. I’m always looking to stay on top of trends, technologies and resources to protect marketplaces and their communities.

How do the laws and the regulatory landscape affect your role as General Counsel?

The Communications Decency Act Section 230 is perhaps one of the most important laws that protects marketplaces from liability for the actions of their users. In addition, terms of use / service agreements are incredibly important (both in form and substance) to protecting marketplaces. But, plaintiffs’ lawyers are getting very creative when it comes to circumventing both, so it’s imperative that we stay ahead of tactics that seek to impose unjust liability on marketplaces.

How do you, as General Counsel, keep your team and business up with the industry changes?

The marketplace startup industry is growing exponentially, and marketplaces continue to disrupt entire industries. Unfortunately, laws and regulations impacting those industries have not kept up with the proliferation of the marketplace business model. So, while I expect marketplaces to continue to grow and expand into new verticals, it’s ever more imperative that marketplaces engage with lawmakers and in the political process.

How do you build a legal team? How do you hire?

I’ve hired many lawyers over my career, and I always favor those who are curious, passionate and hard working. It is not important to hire the smartest lawyers or those who went to the best law schools. Rather, I look for lawyers who are detail oriented and interested in putting in the time to understand and deconstruct complex legal issues. I prefer generalists over specialists because, to me, they tend to be open to exploring more. The one thing I have learned over the years is that people want feedback and they want to be recognized for their hard work. It sounds simple, but we often get so busy that we forget to show our appreciation for a job well done.

About Jeremy Gottschalk

Jeremy is an expert in risk management, trust & safety and legal strategy for marketplace startups. With nearly 20 years of experience as a lawyer, operator and consultant to venture capitalists, founders and operators he, founded Marketplace Risk as an industry networking and knowledge-sharing platform for the marketplace ecosystem, and he regularly consults venture capitalists, tech startups and vendors in this ecosystem. Jeremy holds a JD from Loyola and an MBA from Kellogg.