A new client will often present me with a thick file folder full of e-mails, faxes, letters, receipts, and handwritten notes, all in disarray. One of the most time-consuming yet unproductive tasks I undertake is getting this kind of file into some logical order. As the client, you know far more about the situation than your lawyer does or probably ever will. The best way to help your lawyer understand all the nuance is to organize your file. When in doubt, organize everything chronologically and, if you’re so inclined, make a separate timeline (we lawyers LOVE timelines) as a quick reference for the chain of events. My favorite clients even make use of the little sticky tab thingies and make a table of contents so I can easily find what
Continue reading How to Keep Your Lawyer’s Bill Low
An insurance agent in one of my networking groups recently explained why one insurance company in particular can consistently offer much lower rates than his competition. By allowing customers to choose their own coverage, no agent of the company is involved and the customer assumes all responsibility for choosing his liability coverage. Are you confident that you’d choose the right coverage for your property given your geographic area, the likelihood you’ll have a claim, and the replacement value of your belongings? Or would you sleep better at night knowing you spoke with an agent who has knowledge of all those facts and figures and who would back you up if you had a claim?
There is a parallel in the legal profession. Legal forms businesses and online legal document
Continue reading Self-Help Legal Services
Open up the yellow pages to the “lawyers” section. Pretty thick, huh? We used to joke here in Las Vegas that the lawyers section was even thicker than the adult escort section, which topped 150 pages at one point. In this sea of names and faces, how do you choose the right lawyer for your business?
Let’s start with firm size. I’ve heard many business owners complain that they can never get their lawyer on the phone. Nine times out of ten, these business owners have hired big firms. It may be that the lawyer is overwhelmed with work, or that the business owner isn’t one of the “big fish” clients, but whatever the reason, the client is unhappy. It’s time to decide what’s important to you – branding or
Continue reading How to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Business
I just posted an article about what you should do if you’re ever sued. One of the many reasons every business needs a lawyer is to deal with a lawsuit when, not if, it happens. If you’re in business long enough, you will be sued. It’s unfortunate, but as a business owner you must be prepared.
Many business owners believe a lawyer is only necessary in the event of a lawsuit. In fact, a lawyer can help keep you from getting sued. Now, I understand that most people think lawyers love lawsuits because that’s where we make the real money. While that may be true, I prefer to keep my clients out of court if at all possible because going to court is always a losing proposition, for everyone
Continue reading Why Every Business Needs a Lawyer
I recently attended a luncheon where Nevada’s Secretary of State Ross Miller spoke about why Nevada has become an attractive state in which to incorporate. Chief among them is the low tax climate. Nevada has no state personal income tax; in fact, it’s prohibited by our constitution. Nevada similarly doesn’t charge income tax on domestic or foreign corporations. We also don’t have an estate tax or a franchise tax, which can be a costly startup expense for a new business. Nevada has no gift tax, which allows business owners to pass on their property and money without having to put money in our state coffers. Businesses enjoy no tax on inventory and no tax on corporate shares or LLC membership interests. Finally, our laws are written to limit tax increases,
Continue reading Why Incorporate in Nevada – Low Taxes
There seems to be a significant difference between what lawyers have been taught to provide and what potential clients expect to get from an initial consultation. I blame those TV commercials that suggest lawyers can and will solve all your problems in one meeting. No lawyer can do that and if any lawyer tells you otherwise, call someone else.
An initial consultation serves three basic purposes: 1) for the lawyer to determine whether he or she can represent the potential client, 2) for the lawyer and potential client to determine whether they want to work together, and 3) for the lawyer to explain how the representation will proceed if the potential client decides to retain the lawyer.
A lawyer cannot represent every person who calls. Lawyers are required to follow
Continue reading What to Expect from an Initial Consultation
A few weeks ago I wrote about the concept of piercing the corporate veil. I received an e-mail asking what happens when someone breaches a contract he signed that included a personal guaranty. Short answer – get a lawyer. Here’s the long answer…
A personal guaranty is sometimes required for a contract. Commercial landlords often require one before leasing space, as do banks when issuing lines of credit. The terms of the guaranty are usually set forth in a separate section of the contract, or sometimes in an entirely separate contract. Personal guaranties are signed by someone not in his capacity as a business owner, but in his capacity as an individual. This is a significant difference and you should be aware of the implications when you’re asked
Continue reading Personal Guaranty – Taking Scissors to the Corporate Veil
Virtual offices and executive suites provide a fantastic alternative for business owners who want the trappings of an office without the significant overhead. As beneficial as these arrangements are, they can leave clients high and dry if the virtual office owner stops paying rent.
There are three rungs on this particular ladder:
Virtual Office/Executive Suite Owner (VOO)
Virtual Office/Executive Suite Client (VOC)
The VOO rents space from the building owner and their relationship will be set forth in a lease agreement. Similarly, the VOC rents space from the VOO and their relationship is set forth in a lease or license agreement. Things get tricky when the VOO stops paying rent and the building owner evicts the VOCs. Unless a VOC’s
Continue reading Virtual Offices and Executive Suites
Yes. The End.
The IRS, business license bureaus, taxation departments, and sometimes secretary of state offices require an identifying number for your business. Without an EIN, your social security number is used, which causes identity theft concerns. Also, obtaining an EIN is another way to distance yourself from your business in the interest of keeping your corporate veil intact.
The IRS provides a quick and simple way of obtaining a separate identifying number for your business, called an Employer Identification Number. The application takes only a few minutes, the process is free, and most banks require the number to open a business account.
So what are you waiting for? In the immortal words of Toy Story’s Woody, “if you don’t have one, get one!”
Last week I met with a small business owner whose registered agent had access to her business bank accounts. A short investigation revealed this particular registered agent had formed dozens of corporations and named himself secretary, giving him access to the bank accounts. We quickly dissolved the corporation and reformed an LLC with no one but the business owner having access to the company’s money.
Registered agents are required for businesses but serve a very limited purpose – they provide a physical location where a human being can accept service (lawsuits and official papers from the state or taxation departments) on behalf of the company during business hours. The business owner can act as his or her own registered agent, but it may be difficult to ensure someone is available either
Continue reading What Does a Registered Agent Do?