The High-touch Legal Services® Blog…for Startups!

© 2009-2021 Dana H. Shultz

At-will Employment – Why It Is the Norm in the U.S.

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about at-will employmentAt-will employment permits either an employer or an employee to terminate their relationship at any time for almost any reason. This post explains why at-will employment is the norm in the U.S.

I am basing this post on a Quora question that I answered recently. Please see Why are labour laws governing companies almost non existent in North America, compared to Europe?  (more…)

What Are My Entity’s Compliance Obligations?

Frequently, the first service I provide to a client is to form a new legal entity (corporation or limited liability company). And frequently, once that entity is formed, the client’s first question is “What are my entity’s compliance obligations?”

This post provides a high-level answer to that question.

(If you form a corporation in California, you can find additional information in the Postincorporation Matters document on the Downloads page – image above.) (more…)

Employment Law for Foreigners

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about U.S. employment law for foreignersThis post is about employment law. It is directed particularly to people from other countries who are not familiar with U.S. employment practices.

It is based on my answer to a Quora question.  Please see What are the most important aspects of American labor law that a foreigner trying to make a terrestrial logistics company in (any state of) the U.S. should take into consideration?

I am providing this answer based on my experience helping dozens of international clients conduct businesses in the U.S.

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Probationary Period for Employees Not Needed and May Cause Problems

Sign saying "You're Fired", symbolizing end of unsuccessful probationary period

The CEO of a client with a half-dozen employees recently asked, “We are about to start hiring again. I would like to add language regarding a 90 day probationary period. Is this a good idea?” My answer was “No.” Here’s why.

I had prepared a form of employment offer letter and an employee handbook for the client. Both of these documents state that employment is at-will. This means that either party may terminate the employment relationship at any time for any (non-discriminatory) reason or for no reason. As a result, at-will employment, by itself, allows a company to terminate the employment of an individual whose performance is inadequate during the first 90 days. A probationary period is not necessary.

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Non-compete Snares Conspiring Employer

Document titled "Termination of Employment"

California courts are known for not enforcing non-compete provisions except under narrowly-defined circumstances (see “California doesn’t *always* prohibit non-compete provisions”). In a case last year (Silguero v. Creteguard, Inc.), the Court of Appeal for the Second District held that an employer may not terminate an employee because of another company’s unenforceable non-compete agreement.

In 2003, Rosemary Silguero began working for Floor Seal Technology, Inc. (“FST”). In 2007, FST threatened Silguero with termination if she did not sign a confidentiality agreement that included an 18-month post-employment non-compete provision. Two months later, FST fired her.

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What Should We Put in an Employment Offer Letter?

Photo of a "Sign Here" sticker symbolizing an at-will employment offer letter

From time to time, clients ask me to review their current form of employment offer letter.

As a result, I am writing this post. It is a summary of what I believe every offer letter should convey to the prospective employee from the business and legal perspectives.

Offer Letter Business Terms

From the business perspective, the letter should lay out the most important characteristics of the position: (more…)

Securing IP Requires More than an NDA

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about needing more than an NDA to secure intellectual propertyWhen it comes to protecting intellectual property (IP), non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are ubiquitous. What many entrepreneurs fail to realize, however, is that securing IP requires more than an NDA. For an NDA to do its job, the company must actually own the IP in the first place!

The most serious ownership problems arise when there is no written agreement between the company and the individual developing the IP. Depending on the nature of the IP (for example, whether copyright or patent protection applies) and whether the developer is an employee of the company or an independent contractor, the developer may own the IP.  If this is the case, the company has, at most, a non-exclusive license.

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About Dana Shultz

Dana Shultz recently retired from the practice of law. As a lawyer, Dana dispensed as much business advice as legal advice. Accordingly, although he no longer is practicing law, Dana occasionally provides consulting services to owners and managers of small businesses.

If you need legal representation, Dana provides referrals to experienced business lawyers.

The remainder of this page is being retained online for archival purposes.


Dana Shultz is a business-savvy attorney with in-depth knowledge of law, business, technology, and the needs of startup and early-stage companies.

Dana develops close working relationships with clients based on a positive attitude and rock-solid dependability. He delivers High-touch Legal Services® (about which you may read many Client Testimonials) – thus the name of his blog.

Dana received an undergraduate degree with honors in Communication Sciences from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Boalt Hall School of Law (University of California at Berkeley). He is a member of the State Bar of California. (more…)