My friend and I are currently developing a marketplace for virtual assets. However we are not quite sure how we should set the company up. Do we need only a DBA, or should we go with the LLC route in order to shield ourselves from potential liability as the company would be acting as a mediator of transactions between two other parties.
I am thinking LLC would be best, but maybe I am way off base in my thinking. If LLC is the way to go should I find someone local to help me set that up, or is there a good online service that anyone would recommend?
I'm not a lawyer, and you should definitely talk to one for a proper legal advice. But to me it seems like LLC is the better way to go for you. Both because being a "mediator" means that ultimately someone is going to be unhappy, and because you have a partner and you wouldn't want the mistakes of one of you to become the liabilities for the other.
But again - talk to a licensed attorney for a proper legal advice, don't just rely on freebies from forum amateurs.
As to how - there are plenty of on-line sites that can assist you with the formalities (e.g.: legalZoom, Northwest Registered Agents, myLLC, etc etc, just Google "business formation"). You can, of course, do it on your own, just read the instructions on your State's Department of Licensing site.
However the Operating Agreement that would govern your entity (whether its a partnership under DBA or a LLC) should be drafted by a lawyer, or at least with some legal counsel. This would be the contract between you and your partner, and it should cover all the operational details, and all the points to consider when problems arise.
Don't just use the default templates you can find on the Internet for free, those may be good for a single-member LLC where the member can always change things, but when you have partners - changes may become a problem.
Bottom line - talk to an attorney in your State.