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Hi, I'm Cliff Ennico. Starting up a new business, or taking over an existing one, is tough enough without having to become a legal expert as well. The problem is, to get the full range of legal services you need, you often have to work with large law firms that charge by the heartbeat and treat you as a low priority client -- someone their junior lawyers-in-training can use as a learning experience.
Since 1996, I have worked as a "general counsel" or "Wall Street lawyer" to hundreds of small businesses, entrepreneurs, franchise owners, self-employed professionals, not-for-profit entities, and other business clients throughout the northeastern United States.
If you are thinking of starting your own business or professional practice at some point, or if you are running an existing business and have legal questions your local attorneys cannot answer, I would like to hear from you.
Who Are My Typical Clients?
I focus on representing entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employed professionals.
Typical clients are:
- people buying into franchises;
- people starting up retail stores, service businesses and consulting practices;
- people starting up home based businesses;
- people forming LLCs, corporations, and other small business entities;
- people selling or buying an existing small business or professional practice;
- doctors, dentists, architects, engineers, and other self-employed professionals;
- technology driven enterprises in the information technology, electronics and telecommunications industries;
- entertainment, publishing and other media enterprises dealing with intellectual property (such as trademarks and copyrights); and
- people negotiating severance packages with former employers, including "noncompete" and other restrictive agreements.
In 35 years of practicing law in New York and Connecticut, I have performed just about every service a growing business needs.
The services my clients most frequently request are:
Contracts: drafting, reviewing and negotiating all types of business agreements.
Business Formations: organizing corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), limited liability partnerships (LLPs), and other small business entities.
Business Acquisitions: sales and purchases of existing businesses and professional practices.
Business Finance: commercial and SBA loans; venture capital, "angel" and other investment transactions.
Franchises: assisting people who are buying into business franchises or "business opportunities"; assisting franchises with federal and state legal compliance.
Business Partnering Arrangements: agreements between business partners and shareholders; buy-sell arrangements; mediating disputes among business owners; joint venture and co-operative marketing agreements between companies.
Employment and Consulting Agreements: employment, independent contractor, "assignment of inventions", noncompetes and other agreements.
Technology and Intellectual Property: transactions relating to information technology, computer software, telecommunications and Internet services, including licenses and other dispositions of intellectual property, Web site disclaimers and privacy policies.
Entertainment and Publishing: transactions involving literary property and artist representation.
Real Estate: leases of office and retail space.
Estate Planning: simple will and estate planning for business owners; family limited partnerships and LLCs designed to keep businesses in the same family over several generations.
What I Don't Do
Some of the things I DON'T do (although I have a good referral network, and can put people into the right hands) are:
- residential real estate;
- patent registrations;
- litigation of any kind;
- criminal work (e.g. drunken driving).
My Fee Schedule
My basic hourly rate is $400, but I try to work as much as possible on a "flat fee" basis so you know exactly where you stand. Whenever I have to charge an hourly rate (normally, anything that involves extensive drafting or negotiation, such as the acquisition or sale of a small business or franchise), I will always give an estimate up front and in writing. If anything happens to cause me to increase my estimate, I will always let you know and get your approval BEFORE running up any additional time.
Please note that a minimum fee of $400 will be charged for preparing or reviewing any contract, correspondence, or other legal document. If the minimum fee applies to you, I will let you know before agreeing to undertake any legal matter.
Here are some fee estimates and "flat fees" for typical small business matters:
- negotiating a lease of retail or office space: $1,200 to $2,000
- drafting or reviewing a simple consulting or employment agreement: $400 to $600
- forming a LLC (one member or related members): $600 plus filing fees*
- forming a LLC (two or more unrelated members): $800 plus filing fees*
- forming a LLC (managed by managers): $1,200 plus filing fees
- forming a corporation: $800 plus filing fees*
- forming a Delaware corporation and qualifying it in another state: $1,200 plus filing fees*
- drafting a stockholder, shareholder or "buy-sell" agreement for a corporation: $1,200 to $2,000
- merging two or more LLCs or corporations: $1,200 plus filing fees*
- dissolving a corporation or LLC: $400 plus filing fees*
- drafting documents to purchase or sell a business or website: $4,000 to $6,000
- reviewing FDD, franchise agreements and other franchise documents: $2,000*
* -- these are "flat fees" and include FedEx/UPS charges and out-of-pocket expenses other than filing fees.
You will not incur fees until we both sign a written retainer agreement that spells out clearly (1) the services I will perform and (2) the fees I will charge. Flat fees are payable in advance and in full, and an advance retainer will normally be requested when I work on an hourly rate basis. However, if your change your mind and decide not to go through with a transaction before my work is completed, I don't just "glom" the fee or retainer -- instead, I total up the number of hours I have actually worked at $400 an hour, and rebate any excess to you promptly upon your request.
Every client is a priority client. I always respond to Voicemail messages within 24 hours of receipt (and usually much sooner than that), and answer my e-mail messages at least once or twice a day, even when I'm on the road. I will always be up front with a client about any limitations on my schedule.
Other Things I Do
In addition to being a lawyer, I am also:
- the author of several law books for West Group, a leading U.S. legal publisher, including a best-selling collection of legal forms called Forms for Small Business Entities (for further details, click here);
- the author of Succeeding in Your Business™, a weekly business advice column that appears in dozens of newspapers nationwide as well as www.entrepreneur.com and other business-oriented Web sites (to see this week's column, click here);
- the former host of MoneyHunt, the popular PBS television show about entrepreneurs (www.youtube.com/cliffennico);
- the author of The Crowdfunding Handbook, a primer for startups who want to raise capital on crowdfunding portals in the United States
- the author of Small Business Survival Guide, a collection of useful tricks for dealing with the 12 biggest enemies you will face when you run your own business;
- the author of The eBay Seller's Tax and Legal Answer Book, the best - and ONLY - comprehensive guide to the legal and tax rules that apply when you're selling on eBay, the world's leading auction marketplace (www.amanet.org/books/catalog/081447425X.htm);
- frequent contributor to Entrepreneur and other small business magazines, websites and blogs
- a leading authority on entrepreneurship and small business management, giving talks to business groups nationwide (for further details, click here).
Education and Background
I graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1975, and got my law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1980, where I was Articles Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review.
During the 1980s, I worked for a succession of law firms in New York City, where I specialized in corporate finance, venture capital and securities law. After a brief stint during the early 1990s as in-house counsel for General Electric Capital Corp., I worked as a corporate/business lawyer for two Connecticut law firms before launching my own practice in 1996.
I am admitted to practice law in New York and Connecticut, and am in good standing in both states.
Please Call Me -- I Don't Bite
I hope this answers most of your questions. If not, please send an e-mail or leave me a Voicemail message, and I will respond as quickly as possible. I am always willing to spend up to a half-hour discussing your situation without charge, and will always let you know before the "meter starts running". If I cannot help you with your business, I will be only too happy to refer you to a qualified professional in your area without charge, obligation or "referral fee" of any kind.
Good luck in your business, and in all your endeavors!
Law Offices of Clifford R. Ennico
2490 Black Rock Turnpike
Suite # 354
Fairfield, CT 06825-2400
Tel.: (203) 254 1727
Fax: (203) 254 8195