Can a Corporation Represent Itself in California?

Many people nowadays have legal entities like corporations and limited liability companies. With the Internet, forming such entities is much simpler now than it was years ago when a lawyer was required for even the most basic of transactions. If you have formed a legal entity yourself, one situation you might encounter is what to do if your entity gets sued or otherwise finds itself in court. An individual generally has the right to represent themselves in court subject to obvious limitations, such as if the individual is a minor, has dementia, etc. However, a legal entity — such as a corporation or a limited liability company — generally cannot represent itself in court and must be represented by an attorney. There is no California statute that says this, but it is instead the result of many courts in California holding so over the last 40 or so years. The case I always cite to is the 1978 California Supreme Court case of Merco Construction Engineers v. Municipal Court. The cite, for the lawyers in the audience, is: 21 Cal. 3d 725. This rule of “entities must hire an attorney” applies even though your particular corporation or limited liability company is just you. The rule also applies even if the case your entity is involved in is super simple, completely frivolous, etc. California statutes provide for two exceptions to this rule that a legal entity cannot represent itself in court and must hire an attorney: First, a legal entity may be represented by a non-lawyer in a small claims court action. This is under Code of Civil Procedure section...

How Many Officers Does a California Corporation Need?

Nowadays, it is quite common for individuals to form a legal entity (e.g. a corporation) themselves. Years ago, forming a corporation usually required a lawyer, but you can often form one online now with minimal effort and cost. One question that often arises after an individual forms a corporation is who can serve as an officer of said corporation. More often than not, however, the question is actually: Can the same person serve in all the different officer roles that a corporation in California has? The answer to that question can be found in Section 312(a) of the California Corporations Code, which states that a corporation’s officers fall in to four categories: A chairperson or president. In other words, this is the person who is in charge of the corporation, A secretary, A treasurer or chief financial officer, and Other officers as the bylaws may dictate or as the Board of Directors may designate. As to whether the same individual can serve in all officer roles simultaneously, the same person can serve in all the officer roles simultaneously unless the corporation’s bylaws or Articles of Incorporation forbid it. Thus, the same person could, in theory, be the president, secretary, and treasurer at the same time. In practice, however, it is generally a good idea for the secretary and president/chairperson of the corporation to not be the same person. As part of the corporation’s business, the secretary needs to attest to the president/chairperson’s signature on documents and it’s obviously circular to have an individual attest to their own signature....