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Entrepreneurs site having guest speakers and lawsuits

Los Angeles, CA |

I have an entrepreneurship site which covers various topics such as start ups, entrepreneurship, personal growth, networking etc... I am looking to have a financial adviser do a webinar for our visitors. This would be a free webinar for all to attend. The topics of the webinar would include how to save more, how to earn more, doing a forecast, etc... What kind of disclaimers are needed here?

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Attorney answers 4


Some of the things to be considered: terms of use, privacy notice, terms of service, disclaimer that the webinar doesn't constitute financial advice, that the visitor should still consult with their own financial adviser before making a decision, and that the visitor should consult with their attorney/CPA before taking an action recommended by the webinar.


You should have an attorney review your site and the webinar in question. Doing disclaimers on your own, even with helpful advice such as that from my colleague is just not smart and not good business practice. I hope you do not routinely do your own legal work. That's very dangerous. At least you know you don't know, which is why you come here to ask.

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.


I would also add language saying that no results are guaranteed, especially because the webinar would address issues such as "how to earn more." However, as one of my colleagues suggests, it will be cost-effective for you to have an attorney actually draft the disclaimers and look at surrounding issues, and discuss the "what-if" scenarios with you. Considering the cost of litigation in California, what a transactional attorney will charge you will be a fraction of what a lawsuit can cost you.

This answer does not create an attorney client relationship. Further, as the answer is going to be posted in public domain, this communication is not protected by the attorney/client privilege.


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

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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