061: Ask a Lawyer with Rachel Brenke

November 14, 2018

Ask a lawyer from photographers the LawTog

Ask a Lawyer with Rachel Brenke

What would you like to ask a lawyer? Do you have questions about how to set up your photography or creative service business up as an LLC, Sole Proprietorship, or S-Corp? will your contracts protect your business? What do you do if a client sues you?

When it comes to starting and running your business, often times the legal side of things is forgotten due to us thinking we won’t need it, or not being able to afford the fees that lawyers charge. 

In this episode, Rachel Brenke aka The Law Tog (we love Togs around here!) answers common business and legal questions  that for photographers asks, and sets the record straight on how to manage certain things. We dive into things like bylaws, contracts, contractors and other legal literature you can have in your business to make sure you’re set up properly and secure!  If you’ve ever wanted to ask a lawyer your photography business questions, this episode is for you!

DISCLAIMER. This podcast is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. For your own legal matters, we encouraged you to seek the advice of a licensed attorney for your jurisdiction.

The Takeaways to Ask a Lawyer

    • Rachel believes in life over business. She wants entrepreneurs to be able to support their life, and family, and love their dream. You can’t achieve that if you have legal issues come up.
    • Having your legalities in order gives you back power as the CEO of your company.
    • It’s easy for people to say “go talk to a lawyer!” but that can be really expensive. Rachel’s goal as the Law Tog is to provide all the relevant general information she can so you can be educated and walk into a lawyer’s office with a specific action plan for your business, instead of paying a lot of money to learn the basics of what you need to do. 


  • It’s cheaper to do things right from the beginning then have to pay a lawyer later to clean your mess up. 


  • Tip: have attorney’s fees written into your contract. If a client sues you,and you have to go into court, that can be expensives, and having the fees written into your contract can prevent you from paying extra fees.
  • The idea of a retainer, or deposit, or booking fee is one of the times that creatives can get in trouble with when it comes to getting paid. This differs by state, so it’s definitely one of the items you need to consult a local attorney about. 
  • As a lawyer, Rachel advises to never be a sole proprietor because you have no legal protections to separate yourself from your business.  
  • It’s a good idea to work with both a lawyer and a cpa, because one can give advice on liability, while the other can on money. You need a good view of both subjects to successfully run and protect your business. 
  • You want multiple layers of protection for your business. Think of it as a set of force fields around your business spaceship. You want to be set up as a protected business entity, have strong contracts, and a have a good insurance policy. Make this a priority in your business. 

More Tips from Rachel

  • There is no such thing as ironclad contracts, and no such thing as insurance that covers everything. 
  • A client is in an agreement with whatever kind of entity you were when they signed the contract. 
  • Piercing the corporate veil means doing things that cause a personal rsk to you as a person instead of your company. 
  • One way of putting personal risk upon yourself is to co-mingle funds. To protect yourself, (and because it’s good business sense) have a seperate a bank account for your business. 
  • You may be holding yourself at risk if you sign your contracts as yourself without designinting yourself as signing on behalf or as a representative of your company. Be sure the signature box defines you as a representative on your contracts. 
  • How you set up an LLC and do your operating agreement depends on your state. Again, consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction. 
  • Communication is key in business, and a lack of communication or miscommunication is where a lot of legal problems arise.

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