Session in Review: Legal Issues for the Solo and Small Firm Actuary

The Entrepreneurial Section Newsletter (The Independent Consultant)

Session in Review:
Legal Issues for the Solo and Small Firm Actuary

by Sandor Goldstein

At the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Society of Actuaries in Washington, D.C., the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section sponsored a session entitled, "Legal Issues for the Solo and Small Firm Actuary." The presenter was David Rintoul, an attorney in the law firm of Brown, Paindiris & Scott. Rintoul has conducted presentations on legal issues at previous Society meetings and did an excellent job, providing participants with a wealth of practical legal information. He has also written a number of beneficial articles on legal issues for The Independent Consultant.

One of the topics Rintoul covered was choosing an entity for a small professional firm. He indicated that the limited liability corporation, or LLC, was the entity of choice, citing that LLCs provide protection from personal liability of an entity but are taxed on a pass–through basis like a partnership.

Rintoul also covered the topic of agreements that we enter into with clients, including the issue of intellectual property. He recommended that if you are hired to create a deliverable, you should make sure that you, not the client, will own it when the job is done. If the client owns the deliverable, you will have no further rights to the work. He also suggested putting a copyright notification on every report that you do.

Here are some of the other topics that Rintoul discussed:

  • contracts and agreements with partners, including minority interests
  • agreements with contractors, including non–compete/non–solicitation agreements
  • competing with a former employer
  • office leases

Rintoul's presentation provided the solo and small firm actuary with a wide variety of practical legal information. I wish I could have listened to his presentation when I first started my consulting practice 27 years ago. I might have avoided some legal problems that I have encountered over the years.

The session was well attended and a lively question–and–answer period followed. Rintoul prepared a useful handout titled, "Legal Primer for Independent Consultants" that is available

Sandor Goldstein, FSA, MAAA, EA, FCA, is a consulting actuary with Goldstein & Associates in Chicago, Ill., and is a member of the Entrepreneurial Actuaries Section Council.