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A Legal How-To for Startups

Little-known legal tips to help you start your business hassle-free

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This story appears in the July 2002 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

You're very excited to start your venture, but you need to know the legal landmines to avoid before you hang your shingle. We got the lowdown from two attorneys who counsel startup business owners on the little-known legal issues that often trip up new entrepreneurs.

A big issue startups overlook is document retention, says Jeffry W. Smith, a partner with law firm Lathrom & Clark LLP in Madison, Wisconsin. People tend to accumulate so much written material that "they don't have any practical way of inspecting it at a later date," he says. "The general rule of thumb is that anything [you] generate or put down in writing could someday be an exhibit in a lawsuit." This goes for e-mail communication as well--so be very careful of what you write and to whom you are sending it before you hit send.

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