Archive for General Legal

Why I Like Being a Lawyer

Quora logo

This post (which, I admit, is a bit off-topic for this blog) is based on a Quora question that I answered.

Q. Attorneys: Why do you love being a lawyer? (Kindly exclude financial reasons.)

A. For me, “love” would be an overstatement. However, I consider myself quite fortunate in that:

  1. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping my clients (for a startup, everything I do is significant).
  2. As a solo I am my own boss, so I get to do what I want when I want.
  3. My training to “spot the issue” is valuable in all aspects of my life, not just my work.
  4. The vast majority of my professional interactions are with people having greater-than-average intelligence, ambition, integrity and accomplishments.
  5. Because I need to have many clients (startups don’t have a lot of money for legal fees), I learn about many different types of businesses.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

 

Consumer Reports: Legal Websites May Lead to Unintended Results

Logo for Consumer Reports, which published a report about legal websites

The September 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine includes an article that examines legal websites LegalZoom, Nolo and Rocket Lawyer (Legal DIY websites are no match for a pro). The article’s conclusions and recommendations:

  • “Using any of the three services is generally better than drafting the documents yourself without legal training or not having them at all. But unless your needs are simple…none of the will-writing products is likely to entirely meet your needs. And in some cases, the other documents aren?t specific enough or contain language that could lead to ‘an unintended result’….”
  • “The sites offer basic legal advice that might help save you money spent on a lawyer. If you use them for document prep, at minimum get all needed signatures to preserve your rights and prevent disputes….”
  • “But many consumers are better off consulting a lawyer. The websites let you search for one and provide such information as education, background, and licenses…. We recommend checking with your state bar association for any disciplinary actions.”

As concerns finding lawyers online, a resource not among the legal websites mentioned by Consumer Reports is Avvo, which has a comprehensive database of lawyers in all states, frequently including information about qualifications and practice areas.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

Attention Entrepreneur: Have You Planned Your Estate?

I frequently talk to individuals who are about to start new businesses. Sometimes, our conversation reveals that the nascent entrepreneur is:

  • Age 30-something,
  • Married, and
  • Parent of a young child, or has a first child on the way.

When I learn this, I immediately ask, “Have you done any estate planning?” The answer invariably is “No.”

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Re-incorporation Won’t Save Amazon Affiliate from Termination

LawPIVOT logo

This post is based on a question that I answered on LawPivot: Q. I have a web business that has been adversely affected by the termination of Amazon’s affiliate program in California, where I currently run the business, resulting from the state’s new sales tax law. Does each state have its own requirements as to what constitutes “doing business” in that state, and is there any way I could maintain CA as my primary place of residence, were I to incorporate in a different state?

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When “Doing Business” isn’t “Doing Business”

Scrawled question mark

Significant responsibilities or liabilities can depend on whether one is “doing business” in a state. As this post explains (principally referring to California law for examples), “doing business” can mean three different things in three different contexts.

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Paid Online Endorsements – It Appears that Amazon.com Cares, Too

logo for Amazon.com, which may have removed book reviews because they were paid online endorsements

About a year ago, in” Educate Employees about Online Endorsements ? the FTC is Watching!” I discussed the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. It appears that at least one online site – Amazon.com – may be taking the FTC’s guidelines about paid online endorsements pretty seriously.

A prospective client called me recently. She was upset because many of the book reviews she had written on Amazon.com – which were paid for by authors – had been removed on at least two occasions.

I asked whether the reviews stated that they were paid for by the authors. She said “No.” I asked whether she was familiar with applicable FTC guidelines concerning paid online endorsements. She again said “No.”

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What is the Difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

Cover of Black's Law Dictionary

From time to time – most recently on Quora – people ask what the difference is between a lawyer and an attorney. Here is what I was taught many years ago….

Although most people (including, it appears, most lawyers) treat the terms as synonyms, they can have different meanings:

  • “Lawyer” denotes a profession (I am a lawyer).
  • “Attorney” denotes the relationship of a lawyer to his or her client (as an attorney I represent my clients).

I recently pulled my decades-old Black’s Law Dictionary off the shelf. (Yes, sometimes there is information that is better researched in printed form rather than online.) It cites case authority stating the “lawyer” and “attorney” are synonymous.

However, the dictionary also provides the the following definition for “attorney”: “In the most general sense this term denotes an agent or substitute, or one who is appointed and authorized to act in the place or stead of another.” It then explains specific uses of the word – attorney at law, attorney in fact, etc. – and, thus, supports the distinction made above.

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

What If I No Longer Need My DBA?

Statement of Abandonment form

Let’s assume that you have been doing business under a fictitious business name (also known as a DBA for “doing business as”). You are about to shut the business down, so you would like to get rid of the DBA as part of you effort to minimize the likelihood of any ongoing obligations or liabilities. How can you do this?

In California, the answer is provided in the Business & Professions Code. Section 17920(c) says (emphasis added) “A fictitious business name statement expires when the registrant files a statement of abandonment of the fictitious business name described in the statement.”

Section 17922 prescribes the information that must be included in the statement of abandonment, which typically can be found on the county clerk’s website.

Related post: When should I apply for my DBA?

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

No, You Can’t Marry a Corporation

Bride standing with groom kneeling

Now for something on the lighter side, a Quora question and my answer: Q. If marriage is a constitutionally protected right between people, and corporations are guaranteed the rights of a person, is it possible to marry a corporation? (Emphasis added.)

A. No. Marriage is reserved for natural persons (let’s not get into which pairs of natural persons). Corporations and other business entities are artificial persons.

Photo credit: Andrew C. via stock.xchng

Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.

Why I Founded the Bay Area Business Attorneys Network (BABAN)

Image of open legal reference book from the Bay Area Business Attorneys Network website

A friend who knows that I am founder of the Bay Area Business Attorneys Network said she was surprised that I had not written about BABAN on my blog. This post corrects that omission.

When I started my law practice in 2004, a marketing consultant recommended that I form an organization with other lawyers. The objective: Obtain? referrals.

I formed BABAN a few months later. Membership is limited to solo and small-firm lawyers who serve business clients. We started with four members, and now have 14.

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