This is the first in a series of "Do I Need a Lawyer?" posts.
Many of the calls I get from people are just asking the question "do I really need to hire you?” and frankly, the answer is often no. Today, I'm going to explain to you when you may or may not need a lawyer if you're forming an LLC.
Almost every state has a website where a person can fill out the necessary forms are provided by the state and form their own LLC. They usually require a certain amount of information, and some states require more than others. At the very minimum, you're going to need to know the organizer of the LLC and you're going to need a resident agent in the state and their address. Beyond that, what's needed varies by state.
There are also third-party websites for forming an LLC; there are tons of websites out there that will charge a little bit of an upcharge over the state filing fees, but do some of the work for you.
When you should really look for a lawyer is if you've got more than one owner, because you need to work out and document at the beginning the rights and obligations among the members of the LLC. Those specifics are not necessarily going to be in the articles of incorporation filed with the state, but you're going to need to know them, and most importantly, you're going to want to document them in an "operating agreement."
If you have more than one member of an LLC, I strongly encourage you to not draft an operating agreement that you find online or an operating agreement that you got from a friend in another state, because you're dealing with your business and your potential livelihood, and you want to do it right the first time.