Published Apr 03, 2020
Faculty Spotlight: Natly Torres Alvarado (Course Director, Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs)
Civil litigator Natly Torres Alvarado splits her time between small business disputes and teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs in Full Sail's Innovation & Entrepreneurship master's program.
Diplomacy is a big theme in Natly Torres Alvarado's life. As a child, the Full Sail University course director thrived as an Army brat and loved connecting with people from different backgrounds. She helped communicate with other countries as a US Foreign Affairs Officer after college, then worked with plaintiffs and defendants to find common ground as a Florida Supreme Court Civil Mediator. Now she's using her diplomatic approach to help future entrepreneurs avoid common legal pitfalls as she teaches the Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs course, part of Full Sail's Innovation and Entrepreneurship master's program.
Natly's focus on effective communication between parties at odds makes her an ideal instructor for Legal Issues for Entrepreneurs. She teaches entrepreneurs how to set up their businesses to avoid costly (and potentially ineffective) trials. "Everybody has this idea of, 'I want my day in court.' When you go to court, what you're saying is, 'I give up, let somebody else make the decision for me,'" she says. "If you're able to find a solution before you go to trial, you're ahead."
Establishing strong communication with business partners, particularly about contracts, can help new business owners avoid major conflicts. Natly continues to practice law as she teaches for Full Sail, so she's got a front-row seat to the personal and professional havoc that a nonexistent contract can wreak.
"I represent a lot of small to mid-sized companies. The stories are always the same," she says. "'I started a business with my dad, my best friend, my brother, and no, we don't have anything in writing.' There's a common thread, things that you don't think about but happen very frequently. I think that's probably the best way I'm able to use what I gain in my lawyer world to inform students here at Full Sail."
In addition to dispute resolution, the day-to-day management of a business also has its legal pitfalls. For example, misclassifying a business can snowball from a professional mistake into a personal disaster. New entrepreneurs should resist the urge to label themselves as sole proprietors and call it a day — learning how to set up a Corporation or Limited Liability Corporation in Natly's class can protect a business owner's personal assets.
"It doesn't matter how good you are: Things happen," she says. "If you end up getting sued, and you're a sole proprietor, guess what? People are going to be dipping into your personal bank accounts to get money from you. But if you run your company correctly and do all the formalities, all that's at risk is the company's assets."
Natly's commitment to connection also makes her a great resource for curious students looking to succeed her in course. "Whatever questions might come up, just ask them. Don't be afraid."
She's also more than willing to hear students' business ideas as part of her curriculum. "Sometimes I give a generalized assignment pertaining to business research. If you have a business idea, why wouldn't you take that assignment and see how it can better your business venture?"