Michael Ray Smith

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Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
  • 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 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. Along the way, he earned a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University. 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 left Lilly to open a business law practice in Fishers, Indiana. In 2018, he and his partner, Susan Rayl, joined with attorneys in forming Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC.

Mike has served as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law 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's recreational interests include backpacking, fishing, kayaking, gardening and native plants, and woodworking with vintage hand 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
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
Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
- Current
Smith Rayl Law Office, LLC
Originally Michael Smith Law Office, LLC
Adjunct Professor
Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis
Taught Contract Drafting to law students
Adjunct Professor
Indiana University School of Law -- Indianapolis
Conducted the Nonprofit Externship Program for law students at the Community Development Law Center.
Contract Attorney
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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American Institute of Chemical Engineers
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Indianapolis Bar Association
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Articles & Publications
Indiana Business Law Blog
Harshman 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
Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC Main Website
Indiana Business Law Blog
Indiana Law Blog
Legal Answers
60 Questions Answered
Q. Options if home purchase and less than six mths later find there is mold, water damage, etc?
A: I'm sure you were looking for something more helpful than this, but to get an answer to your question, your daughter needs to call an attorney, preferably one who handles a lot of residential real estate matters.
Q. Can I place a construction lein on a nursing home in Indiana for worked preformed
A: Maybe, depending on the facts. One particularly important fact is how long it has been since you worked on the project. For this type of construction, assuming the nursing home is privately owned (other rules apply if it is publicly owned), you have 90 days after the last day you provided labor on the project to record a notice of intent to hold a lien with the county recorder in the county in which the construction project is located.

The Indiana Mechanic's Lien statute also provides another remedy that may or may not be helpful, assuming you were not hired directly by the owner of the project but rather by a general contractor or subcontractor. You may be be able to send the owner of the project a notice of personal liability, which makes the owner of the project directly liable to you, but only to the extent the owner has not yet paid everything owed to the prime contractor. If the owner has already paid in full, a notice of personal liability won't give you anything. The good thing is that there is no time limit on the notice of personal liability, so even if you have missed the window to file a lien, you can hold the owner directly liable to you. The way that usually plays out is that the owner will refuse to pay the prime contractor until the prime contractor pays you and secures a signed release from you.

As always with these questions, this is not legal advice, and there may be other facts that change the situation. You should contact an Indiana lawyer about the possibility of recording a lien, serving the owner with a notice of personal liability, or both, and do it QUICKLY.
... Read More
Q. One of my parent's will was rewritten in the last couple of years and heavily favors the executor and their family.
A: Your suspicions may be well founded, but I don't think anyone can give you satisfactory answers to your questions in this forum. You should hire an attorney who handles estate planning and probate matters, lay out everything you know, and get the lawyer's advice on your chances of success if you challenge the validity of the will. Whether money well is spent on legal fees depends, in part, on how much the estate is worth and what your share might be. It makes no sense to spend, say, $20,000 in legal fees if the most you stand to inherit is $10,000. There may also be other, non-financial considerations to consider, such as the possibility of damaging family relationships in a will contest. ... Read More
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Contact & Map
Harshman Ponist Smith & Rayl, LLC
3650 N Washington Blvd
Indianapolis, IN 46205
Telephone: (317) 964-6000 Ext. 104
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