Starting a business is daunting, as any number of entrepreneurs will tell you. At some point, you'll need help, and the bigger your company grows, the more help you'll need. The good news is that there are plenty of people and systems ready and willing to help you. Running your food business requires expertise in areas other than the operation of the day-to-day business and food production.
As a cottage food producer, navigating the labeling requirements and ingredient restrictions is easy to follow without an attorney's guidance. Still, as your food business grows, there is much more to consider. Attorneys like Amy Cook of Amy Cook Law, LLC. can help with all the legal aspects of operating a food business.
- Business and nonprofit formation and dissolution
- Regulatory compliance with the USDA, FDA, and local health departments
- Local municipalities licensing and permits necessary for brick and mortar operations
- Contract drafting, review, negotiation
- Intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, noncompete & nondisclosure agreements)
- Women/Minority/Veteran-Owned Business Certification
Amy is the Chair of the Chicago Bar Association's Food Law Committee and a member of its Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP). As a JEP member, she has pledged to provide quality legal services that are accessible and affordable. As if that weren't enough, Amy also founded the Food Lawyer Network (FLN) in 2020. FLN is based in the Chicago area, which has a diverse local food system of urban and suburban farms and a sizeable entrepreneurial food economy.
According to its website, FLN is a referral service that helps "food business entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, small farms, and urban farms, farmers markets, co-ops, restaurateurs, and others within the food system by providing pro bono or reduced-cost legal services from volunteer lawyers."
As an attorney, Amy has followed her passions in the creative and culinary arts. When Amy left Chicago to attend UCLA as an undergrad, she encountered farms and, for the first time, thought about how food is grown and produced. Since then, her interest in food went from personal to professional. She has worked as a literary cookbook agent and intellectual property attorney within the food sector.
Amy also recently started her law firm, Amy Cook Law, LLC, and enjoys being at the point of choosing which clients she wants to work with. Much of her work centers on the legal issues involved in starting a company, and she enjoys working with women-owned businesses. You can learn more at amycooklaw.com.
Other legal resources for food entrepreneurs include Farm Commons, Farmers Legal Action Group, The Chicago Bar Foundation, and the Northern Illinois University Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships.