Do You Need an Attorney to Start an LLC?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Do You Need an Attorney to Start an LLC?

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

Hiring an attorney or consulting an online legal service provider is not one of the requirements for starting a limited liability company (LLC), but it is often helpful as you create your organization. Whether it's best to start an LLC yourself or consult outside help depends on your familiarity with business law and the complexity of your business's structure.

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Do-It-Yourself LLC

All states allow you to start an LLC without the assistance of an attorney. Doing it yourself is the cheapest option, but it also carries the greatest risk of making a mistake.

You can form an LLC by filing articles of organization and paying a filing fee with the Secretary of State in the state where you plan to operate your business. In most states, you can complete the process within a few weeks. The articles of organization are short but very important, as it's within these papers that you decide who is responsible for receiving service of legal documents and whether the owners or separate managers will manage the LLC.

After the Secretary of State accepts the paperwork, you have formed an LLC. Afterward, you must also draft an operating agreement, decide whether your company needs other agreements (such as a buy-sell agreement), and appoint managers, if that's your preferred method of management. These are foundational documents and decisions that will affect the LLC for the rest of its life.

Hiring an Attorney

Although it's not a requirement for the legal formation of an LLC, hiring a small business attorney can be beneficial, as the advantages of having a professional do the work for you often outweigh the cost.

Using an attorney to prepare and file the required documents with the Secretary of State helps you avoid making mistakes when starting your LLC. The attorney can draft formation documents, such as the operating agreement, and any other necessary forms. Attorneys can also explain options regarding the LLC's structure and operations and advise you about which choices are best for your business.

Other Options for Assistance

Using an online service provider to help you form an LLC is an option that provides a middle ground between doing it yourself and hiring an attorney. It's usually less expensive than an attorney and can help you avoid many of the common mistakes that can occur from doing it yourself.

An online legal service provider prepares the required state filings, operating agreement, and other formation documentation based on your answers to questions about your business. Relying on an online legal service provider is often a great option for businesses owned and managed by one person. Larger and more complex businesses are more likely to need an attorney for answering very specific questions.

When in doubt, it is better to employ an online service provider or business attorney to help you set up your LLC. Consider hiring a professional to prevent mistakes that can cost you time and money to correct later in your business's life cycle.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.