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Providing Legal Foundation for Manitoba Startups

This is it! You’ve got that market-altering idea and you’re ready to introduce it to the world. Your tech is light years ahead of the curve, your business plan is rock solid, everything is backed by comprehensive market research and capital is secured. Your lifelong dream of starting your own business and building your personal success story from the ground up is almost real.

There’s only one problem and you may not even realize it for years to come. Nobody asked that critical question… “did anyone check with legal?”

Silvia de Sousa is a lawyer with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman specializing in business law, with an emphasis on intellectual property, life sciences and technology. De Sousa says this type of scenario is a common one, as startups sometimes miss the need to protect themselves from a legal standpoint or often don’t have the resources to do so.

“When it comes to intellectual property it’s absolutely critical to start the process on sound legal footing,” said de Sousa. “It can be really unfortunate but even the greatest ideas and the most talented people can get derailed if a solid legal foundation isn’t established at the outset.”

The desire to see Manitoba entrepreneurs succeed is precisely what led Thompson Dorfman Sweatman to get actively involved in Manitoba’s startup community, including a valuable partnership with North Forge Technology Exchange.

“Working with North Forge has been a great partnership for us as they’re able to link us directly with startups in need of legal counsel,” said de Sousa. “We offer a variety of presentations, workshops and even a startup legal clinic to help guide entrepreneurs through the early stages of their companies and help them avoid some of the legal pitfalls that can have major consequences for them down the road.”

Keith LaBossiere, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman’s CEO and Managing Partner, speaks with a great sense of pride when discussing the dedication his firm and his associates demonstrate towards ensuring a healthy entrepreneurial environment here in Manitoba.

“Our lawyers have always shown a real commitment to being part of the fabric of our community,” said LaBossiere. “We believe it really sets us apart and we hear that from our team, from prospective students and lateral hires time and time again.”

Beyond the altruistic side of offering legal consultations to local startups, LaBossiere also emphasizes how valuable the work can be for all parties involved.

“There really is nothing more exciting than being involved in the building of a company from the ground up,” said LaBossiere. “It can be an incredible learning experience on both sides of the table and always proves to be just as rewarding for our team as it does for the companies we help.”

Next up for Thompson Dorfman Sweatman will be providing legal guidance for the recently announced successful applicants of the Manitoba Open Innovation Challenge, all from their new state-of-the-art office space in True North Square. The challenge is designed to generate solutions to Manitoba’s low rankings in child literacy and numeracy and de Sousa is excited to have her firm be part of such an important initiative.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to generate millions of dollars in revenue or programs to tackle social issues, the need for legal advice is just as important,” said de Sousa. “You always want to make sure you’re covered when it comes to intellectual property as it really comes down to protecting your most valuable asset.”

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