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May an LLC Manager Be a Minor?

Hand drawn workflow diagram representing an LLC manager whi is a minor

This post discusses whether an LLC manager (the person who manages a limited liability company) may be a minor.

In May a Minor Form an LLC?, I discussed whether the organizer of an LLC may be a minor. In that post, I noted that only five states – Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas – prohibit a minor from organizing an LLC. So, those are the states to which I paid the closest attention in writing this post. (more…)

May a Minor Be a Partner?

Logo for Avvo, where Dana Shultz answered a question about: May a minor be a partner in a partnership?This post answers the following question: May a minor be a partner (in a partnership legal entity)? It is based on my answer to an Avvo question. Please see In California, can a minor be a partner in a General Partnership?

As initially written, this answer applied solely to California. However, an update, below, discusses applicability to other states. (more…)

May a Minor Form an LLC?

Photo of cheering children, symbolizing "May a minor form an LLC?This post – asking “May a minor form an LLC?” – is a companion to May a Minor Form a Corporation?

I have been wanting to write this post for more than two years, ever  since writing the corporation post referenced above. However, as  explained further below, I felt uncomfortable doing so because I was  somewhat unsure of the answer. (more…)

May a Minor Form a Corporation?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz addressed "May a minor form a corporation?"

This post asking may a minor form a corporation is based on my answer to a Quora question. Please see Can a little kid register a company in United States?

Answer: States differ as to whether they let a minor form a corporation (i.e., whether a minor can act as an incorporator).

For example, Michigan, according to a 1981 Attorney General opinion, does not let a minor form a corporation. A footnote in that opinion lists 31 other jurisdictions whose incorporation statutes (as of that time) variously require that incorporators either be at least 18 years old or have the capacity to contract. As of the date of that opinion, those jurisdiction were:

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Cumulative Voting: Board Representation for Minority Shareholders

Photo of a ballot, symbolizing cumulative votingCumulative voting for corporate directors is a process by which each shareholder’s voting power is multiplied by the number of directors to be elected. The objective: By allocating all of their votes to one or a small number of directors, minority shareholders can ensure that their interests are represented on the board. (I.e., a majority shareholder will not automatically control all board seats.) (more…)

Contracts with Minors can Lead to Major Problems

Photo of a child pringing "A", symbolizing contracts with minorsI recently was consulted concerning contracts with minors. In the first case, a teenager wanted to start a business. In the second, a father wanted his child to become a member of his limited liability company (LLC).

Here is an overview of California law concerning contracts with minors.

A minor is an individual who is under 18 years of age. An adult is an individual who is 18 years of age or older. Family Code Sections 6500-6501

Subject to certain exceptions (some of which are far-reaching, such as those precluding contracts related to real property or personal property not in the minor’s immediate possession or control), minors may enter into agreements. Family Code Sections 6700-6701

However, the minor generally may disaffirm (reject) the agreement before reaching majority, or during a reasonable time thereafter. Family Code Sections 6710-6713

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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 Does It Mean to Hold X Shares?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about what it means to hold X shares in a companyI am writing this post because of a Quora question that I answered. Please see What does it mean when you have X shares in a company?

Before addressing the significance of the number of shares, I will address the significance of shareholding, generally. (more…)

When is a Shareholder Vote Required?

Logo for Avvo, where Dana Shultz answered a question about: when a shareholder vote is requiredThis post discusses when a California corporation must hold a shareholder vote.

It is based on an Avvo answer that I wrote recently. Please see Beside elections, are there corporate decisions that REQUIRE the vote of the shareholders?

California Shareholder Vote Requirements

A corporation must hold a shareholder vote to approve the following actions. Please note that this may not be a comprehensive list. Reference links are to the relevant California Corporations Code sections. (more…)

CA-RULLCA Receives Corrections Two Years Later

Photo of CA Corporations Code, which contains CA-RULLCA statutesIn RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014 , I explained how California’s version of the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (“RULLCA” or “CA-RULLCA” – Corporations Code Sections 17701.01 – 17713.13 ) was to take effect January 1, 2014. This post describes changes to CA-RULLCA that took effect on January 1, 2016.

Most of the changes were minor clean-up of the sort that one expects when major new legislation is adopted. However, some of the changes are noteworthy. (more…)

Kickstarter Limits Foreign Entrepreneurs

Kickstarter logoKickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Recently, I have seen a surge of interest among foreign companies wishing to set up Kickstarter projects in the US. This post discusses the challenges those companies will face.

Kickstarter Creator Requirements

Kickstarter states the following concerning Who can use Kickstarter (updated November 24, 2017): (more…)

Online Terms of Use – What Should We Include?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about online terms of useThis post about online terms of use is based on a Quora question that I answered today. The question and my answer are reproduced with minor edits below.

Q. What things should I include in an online terms of use agreement for a new internet startup?

A. Assuming that your lawyer is experienced at drafting terms of use, s/he will be able to contribute the required knowledge of relevant legal issues.

Your input is critical with respect to the specific needs of your business:

  • Identify the various classes of users of your site.
  • For each class, describe the business relationship between users and your site / business. Include risks and other issues that particularly concern you.
  • Examine the terms of use for similarly-situated existing sites to uncover additional issues that you may not have thought of on your own.

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How Can I Have Reverse Vesting in an LLC?

Quora logo

I recently received, via Quora, a private question about setting up an LLC membership interest (rather than shares of a corporation) with reverse vesting (see Rewarding Key Personnel: Restricted Stock or Options?). That question, and my answer, are reproduced below with minor editing.

Q. I am starting a company and forming as an LLC. My co-founder will received a reverse-vested membership percentage. I’ve found plenty of sample restricted stock agreements, but nothing for LLCs and memberships. Do you have any suggestions where I can find a sample agreement? (more…)

If You Accept Venture Capital, You will Lose Control of Your Company

Picture of two teams in a tug of war

After several years of hard work, a client has gained so much traction that venture capitalists – on their own initiative – are asking to make an investment. When the first term sheet arrived, however, the founder / CEO was disappointed – the valuation was fine, but his ability to make significant decisions would be curtailed. I pointed out: If you accept venture capital, you will lose control of your company.

The loss of control does not result from a change in voting power: The VC will own a minority of the corporation’s shares and will control a minority of the seats on the board of directors.

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Copyright: Why You Need Presence of Mind about Present Assignments

One page from a calendar

In Independent Contractors: How to Assign Copyrights, I provided sample language for an independent contractor’s assignment of copyrights to a client. This post explains why the present assignment aspect of that language is critical.

Here (with emphasis added) is the relevant portion of the pivotal sentence:

Contractor hereby irrevocably assigns, transfers and conveys to Client all of its right, title and interest in and to the Deliverables, including complete, unconditional and worldwide ownership of all intellectual property rights in any draft or final version of the Deliverables.

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Why are So Many Corporations Formed in Delaware?

Delaware Division of Corporations logo, symbolizing why so many corporations are formed in Delaware

I recently answered the question “Is it best to form an LLC in Delaware?” on Quora. In response to a user comment, I opined on why so many corporations are formed in Delaware. My opinion, slightly edited, is reproduced below.

First, I’ll point out that I have what may be a minority opinion, so others may well disagree. (more…)

Small-company CEOs Can Be Accused of Sexual Harassment, Too

Photo of Rita Risser

Rita Risser

I am especially pleased to welcome Rita Risser as a guest writer – not just because her post about sexual harassment is this blog’s first guest post, but because I have had the pleasure of knowing, and staying in touch with, Rita ever since we met at Boalt Hall.

As CEO of a small company, you may imagine that the recent resignation of HP’s CEO has no relevance to you and your organization. Think again.

Whenever employees or contractors are let go, they are more likely to bring claims for harassment, whistle-blowing and more. The worse the economy, the less likely they are to find other jobs and the more incentive they have to pursue alternative sources of income through lawsuits.

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Assessing Personal Liability – Read Formation Documents Carefully!

A client, majority shareholder in a California corporation, asked whether there was any way to make a minority shareholder pay part of the corporation’s losses to date. In this particular case, the answer was “no” – but the question got me thinking about when a corporate shareholder or LLC member might be have personal liability beyond the amount payable for the ownership interest.

The LLC section reference and content below have been updated to reflect California?s new LLC law that took effect on January 1, 2014 (see RULLCA Brings New LLC Laws to California in 2014).

A century ago, corporations routinely issued assessable shares, i.e., shares that carried an obligation for the shareholder to pay additional amounts to the corporation under certain circumstances, such as to cover losses or to buy property. Today, however, almost all shares are non-assessable.

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SaaS Use of Open-source Software is not Distribution (Who GNU?)

GNU logo

I recently answered a LinkedIn question about whether providing Software as a Service (SaaS) is considered a “distribution” under the open-source GNU General Public License. The question and answer (no longer available on LinkedIn) are reproduced, in slightly edited form, below.

Q. Is hosting a software as a SaaS offering considered as “distribution” under GPL / LGPL open source licenses?

A. I believe that SaaS hosting is not intended to be considered distribution.

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WSJ: Startups Will Keep Struggling in 2010

In an article published yesterday (Start-Ups Will Keep Struggling in 2010), the Wall Street Journal reported that startup funding will remain tough to find in 2010.

The major problems:

  • Most entrepreneurs use personal savings or contributions from friends and family, but personal wealth – often tied to the value of homes or stock portfolios – has not bounced back from the economic downturn.
  • For both conventional bank loans and those insured by the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs most show (a) that they have invested a significant amount of their own money and (b) solid cash-flow projections.
  • During the first half of 2009, the total value of angel investments fell 30% compared to 2008; 2010 is expected to continue at the 2009 level.
  • While venture capitalists are continuing to invest, they typically have been protecting later-stage companies already in their portfolios rather than funding startups.

The minor bits of good news:

  • While angels are investing less per deal, the total number of deals increased during the first half of 2009 over 2008.
  • Stimulus-related measures may increase SBA loans from 1% of all small-business lending to between 5% and 10%.

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Related posts:

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.

Do I really need a lawyer to review this contract?

I have wanted to write this post for several months, but until now I have held off because of concern that it would come across as a lawyer saying “buy my services”. Today, though, a conversation with a client drove home how important this topic is.

On several occasions, clients have asked me to dig them out of trouble that occurred because they had entered into agreements without the advice of legal counsel. Some examples:

How detailed should a legal document be?

This topic was suggested by Tim Greene at FizzTalk based on a comment posted at the LinkedIn Legal Blogging group.

In my experience, a document’s level of detail should be driven by the nature of the business transaction and the parties’ relationship. I will give some examples both from in-house work and from my private practice that pertain to agreements with independent contractors.

Long and Detailed

When I was VP and Legal Counsel at Visa, I negotiated hundreds of contracts. Given that most were for IT products or services, a lot of money often was at stake, especially if a relationship was to continue for a period of years.

Accordingly, I prepared a series of detailed standard-form agreements – typically 15-20 pages – that served as a starting point. To minimize the amount of negotiation that would be required, the agreements were reasonably balanced, yet they, nevertheless, protected my client’s essential business and legal interests.

The agreements were long, but the length was justified by (a) the size of the deals and (b) the fact that each standard-form agreement would be used many times in the future, with minor revisions as required.

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Why (not) Incorporate Online?

There are countless online services – including LegalZoom, MyCorporation and The Company Corporation – that will help you form a corporation. The benefits are clear: A minimal investment of time and money.

But, based on the experiences of some of my clients before I began representing them, those benefits may come at a cost: Corporate documents that do not properly meet the entrepreneur’s needs, plus a lack of information about legal requirements to maintain the corporation on an ongoing basis. (Please see this blog’s Hall of Shame page.)

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