Orange County Branch Newsletter

October 2012

Law & CE

Business Issues: The Oil That Keeps The Machine Moving

There is more to operating an engineering firm than performing calculations and drawing accurate plans.  In fact, while you frequently hear attorneys comment on the importance of considerations like insurance and indemnity, those don’t complete the picture either.  This month’s installment is a little different and deals with some of the legal facets of operating your engineering business and staying in compliance with requirements of the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.  Like the oil in an engine, if you keep it clean and updated, the engine will continue to run; but if you overlook it, the problems can be significant.

Company Name

For instance, under California law you can use a fictitious business name, but if you include the name of any particular person in your business name, the person named must be a currently licensed professional engineer, land surveyor, architect, or geologist.  If your business was lawfully in existence on December 31, 1987 (June 1, 1941 for surveyors), or is the lawful successor or survivor of such a business, you can use the name even if it contains a particular person’s name who is not a licensee.  However, the requirements that a licensee be the owner, partner, or officer in charge of the engineering practice of the business and that all engineering services be performed by, or under the responsible charge of, a professional engineer still apply.[ii]

Organization Record

Once you’ve decided on a name, you must file an Organization Record (OR) form with the Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists.[iii]  The form is different for businesses with their principal offices in California versus outside of California.  It basically consists of your business name, type of business form (corporation, partnership, LLP, or sole proprietorship), a description of the services you provide, and the names of the officers, partners, and engineers in responsible charge with license numbers.  The OR form is available at:  This means that if you are an engineer that is putting your professional stamp on documents, there should be an OR form filed that identifies you as a responsible engineer at your particular firm.

Note that whenever the information on the OR form changes, a new OR form reflecting the current information must be submitted to the Board.  Every licensee that is a partner, member, officer, or employee in responsible charge of engineering services is required to, within 30 days of associating with a firm, notify the board of such association.   If you decide to leave a business where you were in responsible charge, you must file a Disassociation Form with the Board[iv].  The Disassociation Form is available at:

Address Changes

It is also important to keep the Board informed of any address changes you have within 30 days of the change.[v]  This can be done online at  This is not a notice of association though.  This only tells the board that you moved.  If you are in “responsible control” of project at your new address, you have to file the OR Form discussed above.

License Renewal

Staying on top of your license renewal is also important.  First, if you don’t and you continue to practice, you’re possibly committing a misdemeanor.[vi]  Second, you have to pay a delinquent fee if you’re late.  For licenses expiring after July 1, 2012, the fee for renewal is $115.[vii]  The delinquent fee adds another $57.50.  The Board will not accept renewal fees more than 60 days in advance of the expiration date, so to save the hassle, be sure to send the fees within the 60 day period.  If you are eligible, you can renew online at:

The above are just some of the little things that aren’t taught at engineering school, and rarely discussed at professional organization meetings.  But, like the oil in an engine, they are nonetheless necessary to keep your practice running smoothly and if the oil is not kept fresh, the engine can seize.  Routine maintenance regarding any of these issues above is a lot easier and less expensive to deal with preventatively than it is to repair if it is missed.


David E. Barker, Esq.

1100 El Centro

South Pasadena, CA 91030

Phone:  (626) 243-1100
Fax:  (626) 243-1111

[email protected]




Clay R. Wilkinson, Esq.

1100 El Centro

South Pasadena, CA 91030

Phone:  (626) 243-1100
Fax:  (626) 243-1111

[email protected]


Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§  6738(a)(3) and (c), 8729(a)(3) and (c)

[ii] Cal. Bus. & Prof Code §§   6738 (a)(1)-(2) and (f), 8729 (a)(1)-(2) and (f)

[iii] Cal. Bus & Prof. Code §§ 6738(i), 8729(i)

[iv] 16 Cal. Code Reg. §463

[v] 16 Cal. Code Regs 412

[vi] Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 6787(e), 8792

[vii] 16 Cal Code Regs 407


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