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Educator creating website to explain financial concepts

New York, NY |

As an educator I would like to create a website that explains various financial concepts. These concepts will mainly be about the stock market, mutual funds, etf's, and bonds. I though about including a text box on my homepage that makes it clear that this information is for general purposes only and will not be considered tax, accounting, financial or legal advice. That you should consult with a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor prior to making any decisions. Will this be all that I need? I am not selling investment services on the site. I am just looking to educate the visitors on these topics.

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Disclaimers are always a good idea. Your business model sounds legal.

However, there is much you need to know as you begin your new business. I suggest you do not attempt to write your own legal policies. This is not where your training and background lie, and though you are probably as smart as an attorney, you do not have their experience.

Below is a checklist for legal issues I use for new e-commerce clients.

1. Business entity - Are you going to be a C corp, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
2. Terms of Service - This is your contract with your visitors and is the most important item for any e-commerce site. A little work here brings big dividends in the future.
3. Privacy Policy - Every e-commerce site needs a privacy policy!
4. FTC guidlines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidlines apply to e-commerce sites.
5. Domain Name issues? Is your name available. Can you create a Trademark?
6. Trademark - Do you have a brand name free from conflict? Should you start with just common law rights? Should you register the mark, and when?
7. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using? Do you have a DMCA notice on your web site?
8. Do you need a DMCA policy?
9. Web Site security issues?
10. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
11. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
12. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?

When I discuss this list with clients other issues arise. Finally, I always discuss with my clients their need for good accounting services. An accountant's advice as you start up can save you many dollars in tax that you might not save if you wait to speak to an accountant until your first tax return is due.

I hope this list will give you pause to think about those issues for which you might need to seek professional advice.

You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation.
__________________
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to E-Commerce and Internet Law
attorneyjaffe@aol.com
330-666-5026 www.netlaws.us

This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.

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Posted

So long as you are not dispensing specific financial, legal or other professional advice this should not be a problem, but as my colleague pointed out there are of course many considerations.

You will want to set up a proper entity, make certain to have all your web terms drafted properly, you will want to ensure you handled the trademark due diligence the right way among many other things (see Attorney Jaffe's list below).

I suggest that you reach out to a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. I will link you to some helpful general info below and most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.

Best regards,
Frank
Natoli-Lapin, LLC
New York, NY
(see Disclaimer)

The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. 866-871-8655 Support@LanternLegal.com DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

There will be advice being given on this site. For example how to pick a mutual fund etc... I would just be adding the disclaimer that this is for general informational purposes and you need to consultant with a lawyer, accountant, financial advisor on the site. I would have the disclaimer on my homepage and in my terms of use. Would I need the disclaimer within each post as well?

Frank A. Natoli

Frank A. Natoli

Posted

Merely saying that your advice is "general" does not make it so. You should consult a lawyer to ensure you are not creating a problem for yourself as this is a very litigious society and if you offer someone enough rope they may try to hang you with it...

Posted

As prior posters have stated, whenever you start a new endeavor it is a good idea to make it a separate legal entity, so if someone does sue it, your personal assets are shielded.

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Posted

Shielding yourself is an important step, and working with a qualified attorney to do this is critical. Do not assume that because you have a corporation through an online service that you are protected. A partial list of considerations could include representations on the website, whether you distinguish between yourself individually and the business in marketing and information posted, whether you individually own the domain name or make it an asset of the company, and more. As was pointed out previously, there are many factors to consider before taking a particular course of action.

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Posted

Before starting a business consult with a lawyer and CPA.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.

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