Whether you are starting a small business or running an established company, it is vital to understand business laws and regulations. But that is easier said than done. My goal is to provide business-related legal services so that you can spend more time dealing with the actual business and less time with legal intricacies of operating your business. My services include:


Business formation

You have a new and innovative product or service and you are interested in forming a new business. You may have concerns about liability, taxes, investors and other considerations. As your small business lawyers, we will assist you in deciding whether your startup business should organize as a limited liability company (LLC), partnership, S corporation or C corporation. We will form the most appropriate business organization for your new business and register the business in all jurisdictions in which it will conduct business.


Mergers and acquisitions

If your business is fortunate to thrive and become a merger or acquisition target, we can represent you as the seller; or if you are on the other side and looking to acquire a business, we can assist with the due diligence in purchasing a business. We will review various approaches in purchasing a business through merger or acquisition. We will discuss with you various structures in purchasing the stock or purchasing the assets of an acquisition target. In either case, your business will need thoughtful and comprehensive representation in all aspects of a merger or acquisition.


Government contracting

Government contractors face numerous issues when contracting with the government. And with a hands-on approach and substantial experience, we will help you navigate those legal issues. We prepare teaming agreements, subcontracts and joint venture agreements and can handle a variety of other government contract matters. As government contract lawyers for your small business, we can assist you in applying for programs for HUBZones, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses or women-owned businesses. If your company is facing debarment or suspension because of allegations of corruption or bribery, we can assist in your defense before the U.S. government or the World Bank.


Business transactions

Once you have an ongoing business, however organized, you will have a host of various commercial transactions. We prepare agreements with lenders, lessors, partners, customers, employees, and consultants. We provide business legal services for your company, preparing confidentiality agreements, nondisclosure agreements, licensing agreements, distribution, employment agreements, independent contractor agreements, lease agreements, and many others. We will help you understand what each part of these agreements require and make sure that these agreements provide protection to you and your business.


Corporate law

Once your startup business has been created, your company will have ongoing requirements to maintain its separate status. We will assist in guiding you on how to prepare corporate minutes or resolutions of the company to maintain the corporate form and other steps to protect the limited liability of your company. You will also have to make sure that your bylaws or operating agreement continues to reflect the needs of the business organization. We are available to assist you in addressing these issues. And once your company is ready to raise additional capital from investors, we can work with you to determine whether you are subject to securities laws or fall within one of the exemptions.


Business disputes

Few businesses are immune to business disputes. If your small business was well-advised, you have an agreement that will provide guideposts on how to resolve your business dispute. If you are unable to settle your dispute, you may have a dispute resolution mechanism such as mediation or arbitration in the agreement. An alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as arbitration or mediation generally can provide a relatively quick resolution of your business dispute. If not, then you may have to consider litigation. We handle business disputes, including pre-litigation matters, mediation, arbitration and litigation.


Anti-corruption compliance

Every company should have procedures and policies to minimize its exposure to allegations of corruption or bribery. An integrity compliance program (ICP) is essential for businesses doing work internationally for the United States government or work financed through one of the development banks. We can assist in reviewing or preparing an ICP to assure that is consistent with the anti-bribery and anti-corruption guidelines from the World Bank. If your company is facing debarment or suspension because of allegations of corruption or bribery, we can assist in your defense before the U.S. government or the World Bank.


Non-profit law

We work with organizations to obtain their tax exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. There have been recent changes to obtaining 501(c)(3) status and we have worked with organizations in submitting successful applications on the simplified track by filing a 1023-EZ and the more rigorous 1023 application for larger organizations. Nonprofits also face similar legal challenges to assure that they comply with business requirements and additional requirements to assure that they do not jeopardize their tax exempt status. As a law firm for nonprofits, we work with nonprofit organizations to guide them through these issues.

FAQ Small Business Attorney in DC

What is considered a small business?

Almost all our clients fall within the definition of small business/startup as determined by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Under this definition, a small business has fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses encompass about 99.9% of all business organizations in the United States.

Which industries do you serve as a small business attorney?

Most of our clients are service providers such as consulting companies, law firms, accounting and bookkeeping services, cybersecurity consultants, video production companies, and lobbyists, just to name a few. We also represent foreign and domestic manufacturers and software developers.

As a small business lawyer in DC, we represent some retail operations, such as bookstores and restaurants. We also represent numerous nonprofits with varying missions. Our government contractors clients hold various IDIQs (Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite quantity Contracts) and GSA schedules.

In which areas of the law does a small business or startup need legal assistance?

Most times, small businesses/startups need the services of outside general counsel. As outside general counsel for small businesses, we can handle most matters as a small business attorney that small businesses generally encounter. Usually, anything with the word agreement or contract is within our practice areas. This includes operating and shareholder agreements, which are used for small businesses and startups that are formalizing their relationships with their owners. Once a business is formed, then we prepare and review a host of other agreements, such as service agreements (which may be referred to as client agreements or consulting agreements), independent contractor agreements (which may be referred to as subcontracting agreements), employment agreements, teaming agreements, purchase and sale agreements, merger agreements, option agreements, license agreements, lease agreements, and the list goes on.

What factors should a small business and startup look for in retaining the services of a lawyer for small businesses?

With our extensive experience of working as a small business attorney in DC for decades now, background and experience should come right at the top of the list when looking for a small business lawyer. We think that accessibility and communication are essential for a successful relationship between an attorney and a client. Hourly rate is important but not as important as quality of service.

What kind of experience do you have in advising small businesses as an attorney?

Keith Rosten has not only legal experience but also business and practical experience that allows him to relate to the trials and tribulations of a small business owner. Keith has BigLaw experience before working for small and medium-sized businesses, first at his own law firm focused on small businesses and then with Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP.

Keith has substantial business experience. He received an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. During his business studies, he worked on several group projects with small businesses, including a furniture manufacturer, a manufacturer of leak location precision equipment, real estate developer. After business school, Keith operated a successful real estate business in California and overcame numerous issues, such as asbestos abatement and underground storage tank remediation.

Keith worked as a legal adviser to a government contractor and was a legal adviser to a major initiative in Russia. Keith ran another small business, selling and marketing solar energy equipment. The business had an e-tailer component, hosted the largest solar energy forum online, and sold solar energy equipment to the government. Keith negotiated two GSA schedules for the business and obtained HUBZone certification for the business. Keith was also president of the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network – Washington, a networking organization for small businesses in the greater Washington, DC community.

Keith has also volunteered for Compass Pro Bono, working with local business professionals to conduct long-term consulting engagements for local nonprofits in fundraising, governance, and strategy.

With this breadth of legal and business experience, Keith is attuned to some of the challenges facing small businesses, which allows him to provide effective advice and guidance.

As a small business lawyer, do you take in-person meetings only?

Yes. We are located in downtown Washington DC and host many of our clients. For those clients who cannot come into our offices, we usually meet over Zoom or by telephone.

How do you charge for your services as a small business attorney?

We charge our clients based on hourly fees. We usually provide a budget of how much certain matters cost so that startups and small businesses know in advance the ballpark cost of the matter.

What if a client does not like our services?

Clients can terminate our services anytime if they don’t find it satisfactory.

Should my small business lawyer or startup lawyer be in the same state as me?

No, not always necessary and may depend on multiple factors. For example, though we are an expert small business lawyer in DC, we have also provided consultation to other cities’ clients.

Articles posted by rosten

Crowdfunding ABC’s: Small Business Funding by the Hordes

Thursday, 25 February 2016 by

Primer on crowdfunding for small businesses. The startup or small business faces daunting challenges in attracting funding. Simply, startup funding isn’t simple. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (the JOBS Act) added another arrow in the quiver of those looking for funding sources for their startup or small business. Crowdfunding has been around for a while, but the JOBS Act added an entirely new dimension to crowdfunding. This blog post discusses innovations recently introduced to allow the small business to attract investment through crowdfunding. The new crowdfunding rules are “designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation and provide investors with additional protections.” Crowdfunding may not be for every small business, but you should at least familiarize you...

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Justice Antonin Scalia: Foreign Law and Pizza Diplomacy

Thursday, 18 February 2016 by

Justice Scalia’s unexpected death leaves a huge void on the Supreme Court and he will be missed by liberals and conservatives alike for his brilliant mind and uncommon humor. Others may not miss him as much for his biting dissents and personal invective against some of his colleagues on the court. Regardless of whether you agreed or not with his opinions--and I confess that I did not subscribe to his conservative judicial views--the Court and the country lost a judicial icon. This blog post recalls a special lunch I had many years ago with Justice Scalia....

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Negotiating LLC Operating Agreements

Tuesday, 09 February 2016 by

This blog post highlights some of the critical issues in negotiating operating agreements for a new business. The operating agreement for a limited liability company (LLC) is the critical document that governs formation, governance, distributions and dissolution of your business, among other issues. You will want to give special attention to negotiating the operating agreement, especially when your business has several partners or investors. The LLC is a creature of state law and the operating agreement is an agreement. You have great latitude in negotiating the terms of the operating agreement as most states have few mandatory provisions. The operating agreement for your LLC is the most important agreement that will govern your business for the life of the business. These terms may be difficult to...

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Investors for Startups: Terms of Engagement

Monday, 25 January 2016 by

If you ask entrepreneurs what are their major challenges in getting a new business off the ground, the three most common responses are money, money, money. There are indeed other major challenges but the primary concern of most new businesses is how to attract startup funding. Whether the entrepreneur is opening a small service business or introducing a new product onto the market, the challenge of funding looms large. When these small business owners face a major hurdle in attracting funding to support their new businesses, either as they are starting out or as they try to grow the business, they have at least three options: funding their business with their personal reserves; taking out a loan; attracting investors. This Rosten Law blog briefly discusses each of these options. ...

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Traps for the Unwary: LLC Taxed as S Corp

Friday, 04 December 2015 by

Careful when electing LLC taxed as S Corp. Your startup business is organized as a LLC and you have consulted with your small business lawyer and tax adviser about whether you should elect to be taxed as a S corporation. Your startup lawyer has filed the papers to organize your LLC in Washington DC or elsewhere. You decided to make the S corp election to save self-employment taxes—a good reason for many small business owners. All is good and well, except that there are looming traps for the unwary. When you talk with your tax adviser or your startup attorney, you want to come prepared and understand that the S corp election may pose some financial risks for you. This article describes some of the looming risks for those business owners who have elected for their LLC to be taxed as a S corp. This a...

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Starting a LLC: Tax as a Corporation or Partnership

Friday, 13 November 2015 by

We have reviewed the considerations for choosing your business formation type between a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. You have discussed the choices with your startup lawyer. The threshold question you want to ask is whether your small business would qualify for S corporation tax treatment. For many clients, that is the end of the story because their startup has something that would make it ineligible for S corporation tax treatment such as one of the partners is a corporation. If the business meets the S corporation criteria, then the next question is whether it is advantageous to the new business to elect to be treated as a S corporation. As we have discussed in this blog, the clear answer is “it depends.” There are advantages and disadvantages to both S corporation tax statu...

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Forming a New Business: Corporations vs LLCs

Monday, 02 November 2015 by

Your startup attorney may suggest that you look at the S corporation and LLC as the two most attractive options for forming your new business. There are a number of considerations for you to keep in mind for your startup business and for you to decided on a LLC or S corporation. They generally fall into four major categories: Protecting personal assets: the business owner wants to assure that the new business’ creditors can only get at the assets of the business, not those of the individual owners; Transferring interests in the business: whatever form you have, you want to be able to transfer stock, or ownership interests in your business; Admitting new investors: you want to make sure that you have a mechanism to admit or restrict new investors in the business; Taxes: which corporate form allow...

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Checklist for Starting a Business: So Many Things to Do So Little Time

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 by

You have designed an innovative product or developed a groundbreaking service that will change the face of your industry. You have written a business plan and just maybe you have gotten some of your friends or family to agree to invest in your new venture. You are exuding confidence that you are going to start reeling in the customers just as soon as you can open your doors for business. You are ready to start your business, but you are faced with numerous implementation challenges. This blog post provides a checklist for starting a business. You will need to address each of these issues for your startup. At first, this checklist for starting a business may seem daunting, but if you take each issue in hand and work through your contacts and business associates, you may be able to resolve these issu...

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Changing the Name of Your Small Business

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 by

After reading the Rosten Law blog on choosing a name for your small business, a reader asked what a small business owner should do if he or she is no longer satisfied with the name already chosen and registered. From a legal standpoint, you have some options. From a business perspective, changing the name of your small business can be a hassle. The real challenge is going around and informing vendors, customers, banks, and business associates that you have changed the name of your business and that you want them to switch over the name of the business on their internal records to a new name. If you thought that it was an issue getting your vendors and clients to change your address after a move, wait until you send around a request for them to start calling your business something different! Nonethe...

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Finding a Name for Your New Business

Monday, 28 September 2015 by

This blog post is devoted to the topic of choosing a name for your new company or organization. I have been in business myself and chosen names or helped to choose names for startup companies and new nonprofits. Naming a company is always the first challenge or dilemma for a new business or nonprofit. Some organizations can afford to pay the big bucks to come up with a name by employing focus groups or pollsters. If you are a startup, it is not likely that you will have the money to retain the services of a consultant just to come up with a name for your company. Take your time in choosing a name for your company. The name that you choose for your organization is going to follow you for a long time. Of course, you can change the name for your startup. But why not prevent the hassle or confusion and ...

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