Business Law Basics

hammer-620011_1280So you’re interested in starting a business or you already own a small or solo business  or practice, but you’re not sure if you need the advice of an experienced attorney yet.  While having a “casual conversation” with Michelle Raia, she was able to tackle this question and many others by sharing her expertise as a lawyer of 28 years with experience in Corporate and Business law.

Michelle explained that there are many reasons to begin your business with an attorney’s help and one of the most vital reasons is to be able to protect yourself and your business by establishing your business in the right  from the very beginning.

Limited Liability Company -LLC

LLC options are available for solo, small business owners and partnerships. It allows you to have protection for your business from being sued for your personal assets without having the formalities of a corporation. LLCs have become very popular over the past 20 years.  For instance, a single member LLC is a great option for someone who is a one-person company. You’re still afforded legal protection, but you can file your expenses and profits on your personal schedule when managing your taxes.

Now there are some restrictions, which is why it’s important to contact an attorney for assistance with filing for your LLC.  You will avoid finding out later that if you don’t keep some formalities, you can still be sued, which is known as ‘piercing the corporate veil.’

There are some labor laws to help you determine if an LLC is right for you.  Taking an assessment of the twenty-point test for an independent contractor will  show if you are separate from the company. The end result must be that work is achieved on your own time, skills, and tools. Additionally, if you’re an independent contractor you must have more than one client. If you have employees, they must have an offer letter that spells out payment, overtime, duties, who they report to, job description, employee handbook. Employers must comply with state and federal laws with regards to vacation, overtime, and benefits.


Lawyers are Misunderstood

Knowing that there are legal ramifications for not being in total compliance with the laws of your state when setting up a business doesn’t always motivate business owners to contact an attorney for assistance. Business owners can avoid litigation situations which is thing that Michelle tells clients the most.  She says “I’d rather help you avoid it than have to then find you somebody to defend you”.  In Michelle’s assessment of some of the challenges she’s experienced  over the years, she explains why she thinks lawyers are given a bad rap.  She believes that there are 3 main misconceptions preventing business owners from hiring an attorney to assist them.

  1. They cost too much.  Some attorney’s can charge an hourly rate.  But there are those, like Michelle, who are able to offer a fixed rate for services provided.  When you’re starting up a practice or a business, you have so many questions, and you just need someone to help you through the process. By obtaining a fixed fee, it’s easier for you as a business owner to budget  and then be able to know that you can call your attorney  and not worry about every little time constraint.
  2. Media perception.  Because of movies,  TV shows and advertisements that feature lawyers, the public often times receives a very skewed view of how attorney’s actually work and what they actually do to aid their clients.  People believe that all lawyers make a zillion dollars and are all corporate sticks but that’s not true.
  3. They are not  typical people.  Lawyers earn a living just like anyone else.  They have families and do some pretty normal things.  When asked “what do you do for a living?” after responding that I am an attorney, a typical answer and can be “well you don’t look like an attorney”.  What should an attorney look like? How should we be expected to act?  We are professionals who provide a much needed service to our clients but we are human just like anyone else.

90% of lawyers are just like you, the other 10% could be like what you see on TV.  Getting away from the misconceptions surrounding attorneys and doing your own research may valuable in helping your business grow.

If you would like to learn more about Michelle and her practice you may reach her here:



This is a transcript of a recorded live presentation. It is in spoken-word format. While we have cleaned up the transcript a bit for easier reading, it’s not in edited written-word format.

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