Michael Ray Smith
  • Business Law, Estate Planning, Appeals & Appellate ...
  • Indiana
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Michael Smith advises clients with starting up new businesses, buying and selling businesses, negotiating contracts, resolving internal disputes among the owners of businesses, and protecting the rights of businesses and business owners through litigation. He is particularly experienced in creating and advising limited liability companies (or LLCs). His practice also includes tax exempt, nonprofit organizations, including 501(c)(3)'s. He also represents clients in appeals, both civil and criminal. Mike has served as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University law school in Indianapolis, and he frequently teaches continuing education courses for other lawyers, paralegals, and accountants. He has published the Indiana Business Law Blog,, since 2009.

Mike was born and raised in Tennessee, but he has been a Hoosier for most of his life. He moved to Indiana in 1978 after receiving a B.E. in chemical engineering (summa cum laude) from Vanderbilt University to work for Eli Lilly and Company in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1989 he enrolled in law school while continuing to work full time at Lilly, obtaining a J.D. (summa cum laude) from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1993. He then moved to the Lilly Law Division, working first in the Environmental Law Group, and then in Securities and Commercial Transactions. While he was in the Law Division, he organized and led the Lilly Law Divison Pro Bono program. In 2008, he retired early to open a business law practice in Fishers, Indiana, originally known as Michael Smith Law Office, LLC and later as Smith Rayl Law Office, LLC. In 2018, he and his partner, Susan Rayl, joined with attorneys in forming Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC.

Mike's recreational interests include backpacking, fishing, kayaking, gardening and native plants, and woodworking with hand tools (especially vintage tools).

Practice Areas
    Business Law
    Business Contracts, Business Dissolution, Business Finance, Business Formation, Business Litigation, Franchising, Mergers & Acquisitions, Partnership & Shareholder Disputes
    Estate Planning
    Health Care Directives, Trusts, Wills
    Appeals & Appellate
    Civil Appeals
    Criminal Law
    Criminal Appeals
Additional Practice Areas
  • Limited Liability Companies
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Credit Cards Accepted
    Visa, MasterCard, Discover
  • Rates, Retainers and Additional Information
    Payment plans may be available in appropriate situations.
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
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D.C. Circuit
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U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana
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U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana
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  • English: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
- Current
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
Originally Michael Smith Law Office, LLC
Adjunct Professor
Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis
Taught Contract Drafting to law students
Contract Attorney
Community Development Law Center
Adjunct Professor
Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis
Conducted the Nonprofit Externship Program for law students at the Community Development Law Center.
Eli Lilly and Company
For more than fourteen years, Michael Ray Smith was in-house counsel for Eli Lilly and Company. While in Lilly's law division, Mike worked in the environmental legal department, in the office of the corporate secretary, and, for the last ten years, in the commercial transactions group. While in commercial transactions, Mike supported the Company's global sourcing operations, writing and negotiating contracts for all manner of goods and services, including a $1.3 billion energy management outsourcing transaction.
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
J.D. (1993) | Law
Honors: summa cum laude
Activities: Note Development Editor, Indiana Law Review
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Logo
Purdue University - Purdue University
M.S. (1982) | Chemical Engineering
Activities: Research in the possible application of ion exchange technology in artificial kidneys.
Purdue University - Purdue University Logo
Vanderbilt University
B.E. (1978) | Chemical Engineering
Honors: summa cum laude
Vanderbilt University Logo
Heartland Pro Bono Award
Heartland Pro Bono Council
Professional Associations
Indiana State Bar Association
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Indianapolis Bar Association
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American Institute of Chemical Engineers
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Articles & Publications
Indiana Business Law Blog
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
Yes, Your LLC Needs an Operating Agreement
Fishers Business Insider
Limiting the Discretion of the Administrator of Poor Relief in Indiana
Indiana Law Review
Speaking Engagements
Advising Closely Held For-Profit Businesses, Annual CLE Conference, Rochester, IN
Fulton County Bar Association
Websites & Blogs
Michael Ray Smith's Website Profile
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC Business Law Website
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC Main Website
Indiana Business Law Blog
Legal Answers
50 Questions Answered
Q. My landlady just told me that she got together with other local landlady/lords and that they are all raising rent.
A: Depending on the specific facts, it could be an antitrust violation known as price fixing. To find out more, contact an attorney who practices in the area of antitrust or the Indiana Attorney General's office.
Q. Do I need to trademark my brand and logo
A: Note: I'm a business attorney, not a trademark attorney. Here is generally what I tell people starting up a new business or entering into a new line of business that involves trademarks. When you ask if you need to "trademark" your brand name and logo, what you are really asking is whether you should register your trademark. Registration is not required to establish trademark rights. Trademark rights begin the first time you use the trademark in interstate commerce. That said, registration provides additional benefits with respect to your ability to enforce your rights. It can also give you broader rights that you don't necessarily acquire the first time you use the mark in interstate commerce. In addition, the process of registering the trademark will give you more assurance that the trademark does not infringe another person's trademark, a risk you run if you just start using the trademark without running a thorough search. Ultimately, the decision involves a mixture of business and legal considerations, and you should consult an attorney who regularly practices in the area of trademarks for advice. Given that branding is everything in retail clothing and accessories, I suspect you will end up registering, but talk to a trademark lawyer before you decide. By the way, I also recommend against trying to do the registration yourself. Let your attorney do that for you.
Q. Im going to start an ecommerce website. I do I need an LLC out the gate to protect myself?
A: I'm not a Tennessee attorney, but the answer to your question would be more or less the same in any state. I agree with Mr. Wright. Yes, you should have an LLC out of the gate. A corporation is another alternative, but an LLC is generally the structure of choice for small businesses. To stretch the metaphor almost to its breaking point, you should set up the LLC even before you get in the gate. For example, you should set up an LLC before you register domains and then register them in the LLC's name instead of yours. I also encourage you to hire an attorney in Tennessee to help you set it up rather than trying to set it up yourself, even if you will be the only owner. Although LLCs are relatively easy to organize as compared to corporations, and DIY LLCs are common, there are potential pitfalls (which are specific to the particular state statute) that an attorney can help you side-step. There may also be beneficial aspects of the state's LLC statute that you can take advantage of that you might overlook if you do it yourself. I also recommend you also find an accountant and an insurance broker, again right out of the gate. There are some basic decisions to make when you set up the LLC, and it's best to make them with the advice of both an attorney and an accountant. Insurance, especially liability insurance, is also important, even with the liability shield afforded by the LLC or corporation. Good luck with your new business venture!
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Contact & Map
Hand Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
1512 N Delaware St
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Telephone: (317) 964-6000 Ext. 104