General Information: Legal Issues and Forms

Entrepreneurship Law Editorial Team

There are myriad resources readily available through the Internet, at no charge, to entrepreneurs seeking general information about legal issues and documents they may encounter in their ventures.  Care must be taken in accessing descriptions of legal issues, forms and other related materials, however, as use of such information and materials without the assistance of qualified legal counsel may be inappropriate and fraught with risk.  Accordingly, the purpose of the references to various on-line sources below is merely to facilitate access to potentially useful preliminary information and materials that might assist an entrepreneur in identifying types of matters on which engagement of legal counsel may be in order.

Overview of Some Prominent Sources of Pertinent Information:

  • Many private law firms, venture capital firms and other for-profit organizations maintain websites with discussions of legal issues of potential interest to entrepreneurs and innovators.  There are also several on-line services offering legal forms and entity formation assistance for which fees and charges are imposed.  It is not the intent of this website to promote any particular for-profit organization. Subscribers may choose at their own discretion to access such sites.
  • An on-line tool that may be of particular interest to entrepreneurs is Inc.com-The Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs at http://www.inc.com/.  An example of potentially useful information on that site is the January, 2009 article on choosing a business entity/legal structure at http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090101/how-to-choose-the-right-legal-structure.html.
  • Several of the law school entrepreneurial/transactional clinics described in this website post information regarding legal issues of interest to entrepreneurs and innovators.  See Other Resources-Law School Entrepreneurship Clinics.
  • Outside of the clinic sites, law schools may offer on their websites other portals to information about laws, regulations and forms at no charge.  For example, a particularly wide-ranging and useful organized set of links to laws and regulations, as well as a variety of other links related to legal education, is available through Washburn University School of Law at http://www.washlaw.edu/.  The Washburn site includes links to potentially useful forms for compliance with laws of many states at http://www.washlaw.edu/legalforms/index.html.  In addition, law schools may also provide on their websites, or on personal websites maintained by faculty, helpful general summaries of particular areas of law.  See for example, the “IP Basics” material     maintained by Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Field, Jr. on the University of New Hampshire School of Law website, at http://law.unh.edu/franklin-pierce-ip-center/studying-ip-at-unh-law/ip-basics.
  • Federal and state governmental agencies, as well as national, regional and local bar associations offer on-line a wide range of information regarding legal issues and forms and regulatory compliance that may prove quite valuable to many types of entrepreneurs and innovators, including many resources targeted to assist those involved in start-up ventures.  Listed below are some of the more comprehensive governmental and bar association portals to numerous potentially pertinent links.

Governmental and Bar Association Links:

Governmental

Note:  The following descriptions and links to governmental websites are presented in two parts.  First is a list with general descriptions of some particularly useful sites of relatively broad scope that offer helpful indices/menus which can be scrolled through to reach various types of information.  Second is a list of some specific types of common issues regarding business start-up with links to particular pages on governmental sites providing “how to” or other information on such issues.

Sites with broad indices/menus:

Business.gov: “The official business link to the U.S. Government”

Includes information on a broad range of business and business law topics, small business guides, governmental forms and FAQs, and links to state regulations and local governments across the U.S.)

IRS.gov/Business:

(Includes information for various types and sizes of businesses, including information of interest to small business and self-employed persons, industry-specific information, and links to all 50 states in such categories as: Doing Business in the State; Taxation; Employer Links; and other General information of interest to businesses)


D.O.L Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business site
:

Includes links to a wealth of information and resources regarding compliance with federal and state employment and labor relations laws)

FTC Guide to the Antitrust Laws:

(Includes links to resources about the FTC”s Bureau of Competition, federal antitrust laws, and dealings with competitors)

How to/Inventor Resources/Inventor Assistance Center:

(Assistance to on “how to” obtain patents and trademarks and a variety of related issues)

Copyright:

Internal links on copyright law and policy, registration process, and related matters)

Securities Laws and Regulations:

Includes overview of and links to detailed information on federal securities laws and regulations, research guides an tools, special information for small business, materials regarding interplay of federal and state securities regulations law, and related materials)

  • Sponsor:        U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
  • Website:         http://www.sec.gov/

Some common business start-up issues addressed on governmental websites:

Re: Protecting Intellectual Property:

How to obtain a U.S. patent for an invention:

How to file for U.S. copyright registration:

How to apply for a U.S. trademark registration:

Re: Business Entity Formation:

Common steps in starting a business:

Forming a business entity in a particular state (searchable by state). Includes business license and permit requirements:

Business Formation Economic Research:

Re: Frequently Asked Questions on Small Business Advertising:

Re: Assistance to Small Business on Employment/Labor Laws Compliance:

Re:  Effects of Securities Regulation Laws on Raising Capital:

Frequently-Asked Questions Re: Small Business and the SEC (with general information about State Regulation of Sales of Securities Included):

Shortcuts to Information Re: Sales of Securities by Smaller Companies:

Using the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering and Retrieval System to Obtain Information on Publicly-Reporting Companies:

Re: Business Planning and Financing Generally:

Writing a Business Plan:

Banking and Financial Economic Research

Re:  Starting a Green Business:

Bar Associations

ABA Resources:

(Various links to information under “Public Resources” and under various “Section” headings, including Section of Business Law and Section of Intellectual Property Law)

  • Sponsor:        American Bar Association
  • Website: 

http://www.americanbar.org/aba.html

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/business_law.html

http://www.americanbar.org/groups/intellectual_property_law.html

Connecting Leaders and Resources- State & Local Bar Links:

(Connects to websites of state and local bar associations throughout the U.S., many of which have searchable information posted by sections of the bar devoted to areas of the law of interest to entrepreneurs and innovators)

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