by Tom Makeig, a lawyer who serves entrepreneurs

About this blog

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Thomas H. Makeig, with offices in Fairfield, Iowa, is a 1981 alumnus of New York University School of Law and is admitted to the practice of law in Iowa and New York. This blog does not offer legal advice, which requires confidential personal communication with a lawyer. NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC: The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. This disclosure is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lead your legal team

Some lawyers complain about clients who try to be their own lawyers. They are out of their depth, they don't know what they are doing, they don't foresee the consequences of their legal efforts, etc. etc.

Twenty-seven years of serving entrepreneurs have shown me that business owners need to be their own lawyer, and then some. Educate yourself about the law as it relates to your business. Use excellent legal help sources available online and in bookstores, including and By all means use these resources to do your own single-owner incorporations, write your own simple promissory notes and file small claims.

At the same time, collaborate with your lawyer and keep him or her informed of the legal steps you are taking on your own, in case you need to take into account considerations that are unlikely to be foreseen without legal training and experience.

Most importantly, keep your lawyer informed so that he or she can help you strategize. Organizing a single-owner corporation or LLC in your own state is straightforward, but selecting an LLC over a corporation, or vice versa, and organizing it in your state rather than Delaware or Nevada, involve considerations that you may want to discuss with your lawyer.

Developing and implementing your business plan without a lawyer's input may seem penny-wise, but it can turn out to be pound-foolish. Develop a relationship with your lawyer that allows you to check in with your lawyer as developments occur and without being charged an arm and a leg. Your business lawyer would much rather charge you $150 for a successful planning session than $10,000 to clean up a mess that resulted from inadequate planning.

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