I have an e-commerce web site which will be completed early April and I'm trying to figure out the best type of attorney to help aid with creating a legally protecting "Terms and Conditions" and "Privacy" statement. Should all attorneys know about this or are there specialized ones?
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
Any intellectual property attorney should be able to assist you. Ask, though, before you hire one if he or she has ever represented a company with a web-based business. It's best to hire one licensed to practice in your state because you will very, very likely have other legal needs as well. Good luck.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
You want one that specializes in "Internet law". All attorneys "should" know about Internet law in this digital age, but you want a specialist as may lawyers know less than they think they know and can steer you wrong. Even those of us who practice in Internet law issues are constantly learning as the wild wild web slowly evolves and becomes more settled in the law and less and less like the Wild West where anything goes. You can find one using the Find A Lawyer tab. I would recommend Will Montague in Lexington, KY to you. http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/40507-ky-william-montague-2050398/endorsements.html Up until about a year ago he was very active here on Avvo and seemed well versed in his legal advice.
I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.
Are You Planning on Opening a New E-Commerce Website?
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 Model – Is your idea viable as a web based business?
2. Business entity - Are you going to be a C corp, a sub-S, an LLC or a sole proprietorship?
3. 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.
5. FTC guidelines - The FTC has been regulating business advertising for almost a century. All of their advertising guidelines apply to e-commerce sites.
6. Domain Name issues? Is your name available. Can you create a Trademark?
7. 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?
8. Copyright - If it is on the web, it already belongs to somebody. Did you buy a license for the images you are using?
9. Do you need a DMCA policy?
10. Web Site security issues?
11. Do you need and have an EIN? You can get that for free.
12. Do you need an arbitration clause?
13. Do you have employees? - If so you need written policies regarding their authority and use of the internet.
14. Do you know the difference between a "browser wrap" and a "click wrap" and which do you need?
15. Are you abiding by the Child's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)rules?
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.
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.