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Business Licenses

The new business will undoubtedly need to obtain some kind of business license from the municipality or county in which it is located. The clinic should decide if it is prepared to handle this task or if the entrepreneur should do so. If the clinic takes on the responsibility, the first challenge will be to obtain a copy of the applicable municipal ordinance or state regulation which may not be available in the law school library or through Lexis or Westlaw. Once obtained, it must be determined what kind of license is required and what documentation must be submitted with the application.

In some cases (e.g., when the business is a retail shop or a web-based enterprise), the license should be relatively easy to secure. However, there are businesses that receive close regulatory scrutiny (e.g. a fast food outlet, a child care facility, a bus service for senior citizens) where extensive documentation, zoning clearance, and an inspection of the premises or equipment may be required. In such a case, the client may be better equipped to pursue the license application than the clinic.

A word of warning: Home-based businesses are often required to be licensed, and the licensing requirements are frequently more restrictive than the client contemplates. If such a business is involved, it may be best to have the client investigate whether its “at-home” business plan is viable before the clinic has gone too far in creating an entity and providing other advice.

See Licenses and permits for student-drafted materials that may be helpful.

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