Can anyone recommend a small business lawyer in the Chicago area?
August 12, 2004 9:13 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a small business lawyer in the Chicago area? Downtown is preferable. Also, does anyone have any idea of what basic services of starting a business through a lawyer would cost? Ballpark figure?
posted by agregoli to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Could you be more specific? Why would you like to do?
posted by ParisParamus at 10:52 AM on August 12, 2004

Response by poster: It would concern starting a small, home business selling handicrafts.
posted by agregoli at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2004

You probably don't need a lawyer. Just start selling stuff.
posted by kindall at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2004

i can't recommend anyone in particular (have looked at martindale-hubbell?)

my instinct is that you won't find a suitable firm downtown, where the larger firms are, but admittedly, my dealings with Loop law firms are skewed toward the heavies and the criminal lawyers. you're looking for someone transactional, not litigation-based; someone who focuses on individual, not corporate, clients. most solo practicioners and 5-10 member firms will meet with you, discuss what you need, and tell you their rates without charging a fee. there's nothing wrong with talking to a few different lawyers and retaining the one you feel comfortable with. i would expect to be offered a flat-fee for incorporation work, rather than an hourly fee, although usually faxes, copies and filing fees are additional in either case. i wouldn't be suspicious of an hourly rate in this circumstance, but you would probably be better off with a flat fee.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:47 AM on August 12, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I have been selling stuff, but I want to be legit, as in, making a profit and paying taxes in case the IRS starts sniffing.

Can you believe I work for a law firm? It's impossible to get any kind of help or advice advocating other law firms because of liability issues, and I don't know any actual lawyers here who might slip me a name.
posted by agregoli at 1:10 PM on August 12, 2004

Have you read any of the Nolo books? They won't replace an actual attorney, but they do cover the basics that would get you up & running quickly....
posted by aramaic at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2004

Sounds more like you need an accountant than a lawyer. I started down the same route - and started with the shockingly helpful tax board in california. they were super friendly and offer a bunch of classes on taxes and small business. Obviously - the California franchise tax board is of little help to you - but my guess is that there is an IL equivilent. I know in CA its techinically against the law to sell anything without a sellers permit - out of your home or not.
My order of doing things went something like this: 1) City Hall - Doining Business As (DBA) registration. This also included getting a business liscense -pre-paying taxes - to the San Francisco Tax Gods. I then took this info to the State Tax board where they gave me a sellers permit and resale liscense. I realized for me that the market was just too crowded for my particular craftiness and gave up. But come tax time it was pretty easy using our regular turbo tax software to add in my "profits".
You need a lawyer when you want to incorporate - but that is expensive and an administrative head ache. If you are just starting out - best to go sole propeitor until things get really going. The only caveat would be selling something that had any liability issues - in that case the incorporation does give you important protection. feel free to email if you ever have other questions. screen name @gmail.
posted by Wolfie at 1:32 PM on August 12, 2004

Incorporation without a complicated shareholders agreement cost $1,300 CDN for our 5 person company.

I believe the full shareholder's agreement would cost another $500 CDN. Corporate seals run around $80 CDN and are totally useless.

Of course, since you're in the US, YMWV.

If this is for yourself, don't waste your money, ask your local tax office how you can do your own incorporation without a lawyer. It's not like there's anybody who is going to screw you over (except yourself). That's the benefit of a lawyer -- he'll make sure that each party has a fair share at the end.
posted by shepd at 3:12 PM on August 12, 2004

Another thing you can do is just call up a bunch of lawyers and make appointments. When you go to the first one, you won't have any idea what you need. He'll suggest some things. Then when you go to the second one, you can be like 'Well this guy said I should form an LLC. What do you think?' and he'll say, 'no, no that's not a good idea. Go Sub-S to avoid the costs of that other document'. By the time you get to the fifth or six one, you'll know what you want and sort of be able to talk like a lawyer, all for free. Plus law firms usually have free snacks.

I agree w/ the idea that you probably need an accountant and quickbooks more than a lawyer. If you post on craigslist your basic needs, you'll get a bunch of responses from people who will set you on the right track very cheaply (couple hundred bucks). The bonus here is that you'll get a lot of free entertainment from all the crazies that reply.
posted by jeb at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2004

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