Setting Up Your Practice: Dealing with the “Legal Stuff”

It’s not as bad as it sounds, we promise! Thinking about the legal considerations when it comes to your private practice is important. Today we’ll cover a few things to think about when it comes to starting your business and protecting it for years to come. 

Get an Employer Identification Number

First things first, if you’re just getting started – get an EIN. If you have a lawyer set up your practice, ask him or her to get an EIN for you. If you're going the DIY route, you can apply for your own electronically.

Once you have an EIN, fill out a W-9 form. It’ll come in handy when you start applying to become an insurance provider. Although a few RDNs opt to use their SSNs in place of EINs, we discourage you from doing so! An EIN adds a level of privacy between you and your business, and insurance companies will not communicate with you efficiently if you use your SSN.

Sole-proprietorship? Limited Liability Company? Which to pick?

We recommend contacting an attorney who specializes in business formation in your area to make sure things are done right the first time. The peace of mind that comes from hiring an attorney for your business is well worth the initial fees. That said, do check in with your attorney regarding his or her fees and rates to avoid sticker shock when you receive the bill! 

Use a site like Legal Zoom to get your practice set up if you wish, but doing so might result in you missing out on having the experience of someone local who you can rely on – especially if you need legal advice or services in the future. 

Protection: Disclaimers 

Think about protecting yourself and your business via your website. Post a visible disclaimer for your visitors, noting what you do – and don’t do – so that people don’t come after you and start a skirmish! 

Take a look at other RDNs’ websites and use their disclaimers as examples; run your draft copy past your attorney to make sure it is sound. 

Business Contracts

Where to begin? There are many contracts and forms that you might find necessary for your practice, depending on your needs. Examples include agreements that you provide your clients, i.e. patient policies, a testimonial release form, privacy policy, etc. Others might come in handy when you hire on additional RDNs: non-disclosure agreement, employee contract, partner contract, etc. 

Various templates exist for the above, but it also helps to have an attorney either draft or review what you put in place. It also helps to have an attorney review any contract that you are presented with by another party. Believe me, my father is an attorney, and he reviews all of my contracts with a fine-tooth comb! That is what attorneys are for – having that protection and peace of mind is so important. 

I’ll close by saying none of the above is intended to serve as legal advice – I’m a dietitian, not a lawyer!  Seek counsel if and when you need it. And of course, reach out to the Healthy Bytes team with your questions – they’re always happy to point you in the right direction.