Author Archives: Aaron Pierce

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About Aaron Pierce

Aaron Pierce is an attorney at The Law Offices of Aaron H. Pierce, in New York, NY.
EMAIL: ahpierce@aaronpiercelaw.com
BIO: About Aaron
PHONE: 212-882-1752

Defamation: Understanding the Varying Degrees of Certainty
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Defamation: Understanding the Varying Degrees of Certainty | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read!  When someone makes false accusations against, or statements about, another and transmits them to others by written word or word-of-mouth, and those statements damage the reputation, character, or integrity of that person, the person harmed may recover damages from the person or entity who made the false statements. Said another way, defamation is communication of a false statement that harms a person or business. More specifically, slander is spoken defamation and libel is written defamation, which can include drawings.

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AIA Agreements Part 2
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AIA Agreements Part 2 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! In part two, we will continue the discussion on AIA agreements. If you’re an owner, a contractor or subcontractor, contact me here with questions or comments about AIA agreements. Get landlord signoffs wherever appropriate. The owner of the property, the landlord, has to sign off on practically every little bit of work before it is started. If not, the work will likely be considered a breach of your lease agreement. In this case, you could end up spending a quarter of a million dollars having work done on your property only to have the landlord then claim you breached the lease in doing so, and may even be able to have you evicted.

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What Is in an AIA Agreement? Part 1
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What Is in an AIA Agreement? Part 1 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! The AIA A101 is the standard form of agreement furnished by the American Institute of Architects which is used in generating well-defined business relationships between a Pand a contractor. These contracts have been crafted, published, and promoted by a very influential and nationally renowned industry group. Consequently, the standardized version is designed to protect the interests of the contractor and can be protective of a contractor to the sometimes-costly detriment of the rights and flexibilities of the owner.

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Miscategorizing Employees as Independent Contractors Carries Serious Consequences
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Miscategorizing Employees as Independent Contractors Carries Serious Consequences | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! It is vital that all employers understand how seriously both the IRS and state agencies take the issue of miscategorizing employees as independent contractors. Any appearance of impropriety is assumed to be the case. It’s understandable when you consider how much money a business can save by classifying an employee as a contractor: employer contributions to Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation are non-existent in an independent contractor relationship.

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Forming a Corporation: Legal Documents You Can’t Do Without – Part 2
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Forming a Corporation: Legal Documents You Can’t Do Without – Part 2 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! In our last article, we discussed the formative documents that all startups must have. Our intent now is to provide some suggestions as to their substance. In getting your corporation up and running, you’ll want to create restrictions on the freedom of shareholders to dispose of their shares in the company. You can control the valuation of the shares, for instance, by drafting it into the shareholders’ agreement.

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Forming a Corporation: Legal Documents You Can’t Do Without – Part 1
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Only takes 5 minutes to read! Forming a corporation is a bit like entering into marriage: all the parties need to agree beforehand on how the corporation will work, i.e. what rules the entity will generally function under. Taking the time early on in the formation of the corporation to discuss and implement corporate operating documents will help avoid disruption and additional costs, especially legal fees, later on when disputes almost inevitably arise.

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New York Employment Policies & Employee Handbooks
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New York Employment Policies & Employee Handbooks | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! Every employer with any number of employees should have written employee policies, delineated in a readily-available employee handbook. Written policies serve to clarify expectations and reduce the company’s exposure. In many cases, policies must comply with statutory requirements from the state and federal government. I recommend that handbooks be signed by employees upon hiring, to demonstrate that the employee has read, acknowledges, and understands the policies of the company.

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Artist Licensing Agreements: Drawing the Line on Creative Usage
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Only takes 5 minutes to read! An artist licensing agreement allows an artist while retaining full copyright ownership of their work, to grant permission to another party to use their art. The client or company which accepts the license does not obtain any ownership rights; they are simply being granted permission to utilize the artwork within specific parameters. Designers, graphic designers, and artists all license their work to a wide variety of companies willing to pay for the artwork.

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Protecting Your Dream in the Hospitality Industry
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Protecting Your Dream in the Hospitality Industry | Aaron Pierce

Operating a business in New York City is often described as an uphill battle. Zoning laws, safety regulations, and consumer protection measures can eat into any business’ profits—but especially in the hospitality industry. In this blog, I provide food for thought to aspiring restaurateurs and bar owners who are considering setting up shop in the city. Term sheets: A term sheet allows the basic terms of a lease to be negotiated without signing a contract. This way, both parties can at first postpone, and then subsequently justify, taking the time, energy, and expense of obtaining legal counsel, once key terms are generally agreed upon.

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Protecting Your Art Starts With Properly Drafted Contracts
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Protecting Your Art Starts With Properly Drafted Contracts | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! When it comes to the sale of visual art, like paintings, sculpture, or photography, the artist-gallery relationship is paramount. In order to make sure this business relationship remains clear and mutually profitable, the artist and gallery need to agree to a contract that meets their needs. Unfortunately, artists will often opt for a quick template or “boilerplate” contract in an attempt to save money or avoid getting mired in contract law. While that may seem like a convenient option, all that does is provide a false sense of security.

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Demystifying Delay: Why Does Litigation Take So Long? Part Two
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Demystifying Delay: Why Does Litigation Take So Long? Part Two | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 6 minutes to read! In Part One, I outlined some of the many factors that could delay the resolution of a case. Below are some additional proceedings necessary once litigation has begun. Initial Document Requests & Interrogatories After the time permitted for initial disclosures, parties to a suit are often allowed several more weeks to supply initial document requests and interrogatories.

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Demystifying Delay: Why Does Litigation Take So Long? Part One
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Demystifying Delay: Why Does Litigation Take So Long? Part One | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! Attorneys regularly face client frustration regarding the time it takes to litigate a dispute. It’s an interminable process, and the frustration is understandable. A little explanation can go a long way in clarifying the cause of the delay. Both state and federal courts have their own specific rules regarding the process or civil procedure, but litigation is often generally governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP).

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Seven Considerations for Every Independent Film Investor
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Seven Considerations for Every Independent Film Investor | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! Investors are integral to an independent film’s success. Film budgets vary widely, from around $20,000 for a micro-budget film to upwards of a few hundred million dollars. There is a core independent circuit where the films fall in the $5–$25 million dollar range. These films can prove highly successful and are often featured in film festivals around the globe including Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, and Tribeca.

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Papering a Theatrical Production
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Papering a Theatrical Production | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! A big part of any theatrical production in New York is the great degree of strategizing that occurs prior to opening night — and with good reason.  A staggering number of contracts and other issues need to be addressed for a variety of relationships that are involved in any theatre production. But the show, as they say, must go on. Contracts are built around a range of factors that will affect the terms, such as:

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Starting out on the Right Foot: Insuring Your Production
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Starting out on the Right Foot: Insuring Your Production | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! Many times, new film production companies jump into a project “head first” because of the whirlwind-like nature of the creative process. Unfortunately, productions that proceed with a devil-may-care enthusiasm can face serious financial consequences if the right insurance is not purchased at the outset of the project. Fortunately, there is an array of insurances that can be designed to fit a budget of almost any size.

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What Are the Options for Funding a Startup? – Part 2
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What Are the Options for Funding a Startup? – Part 2 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! In my previous blog article, I started a discussion of funding opportunities for startup businesses by explaining the new phenomenon of Crowdfunding. In this continuation, I examine two more means to raise capital: angel investors and venture capital (VC) firms. Angel Investor An angel investor could be any number of people: a cousin, a best friend, or anyone who has a personal interest in seeing a business succeed.

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The Dramatically Shifting Landscape of Employment Law
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The Dramatically Shifting Landscape of Employment Law | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read! Today’s employment landscape is characterized by strict mandates set forth by both New York State Labor Law and the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). It is common knowledge that an employer is required by law to pay “on the books”—that is, traceable, properly recorded payments, that maximize the probability of tax compliance. If an employer instead pays in cash, it is almost automatically failing New York State disclosure requirements.

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Choosing the Right Law Firm
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Choosing the Right Law Firm | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! In order to avoid unwelcome surprises, it is important that people seeking counsel regarding a personal, legal, or business matter perform a certain degree of due diligence in selecting a law firm. When choosing the right law firm, you should start with the basics. To begin, make sure they are able to convincingly demonstrate real experience and obvious skill in the subject matter at issue. Next, learn the compensation structure of the firm.

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Tips to Apply for a Liquor License in New York City
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Tips to Apply for a Liquor License in New York City | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! If you are opening a bar or restaurant in New York City, or if you already own a business and would like to apply for a liquor license to increase revenue, understanding the application process and knowing where to start could save you time and money. Bars, restaurants, clubs, and music venues that serve or sell alcohol in the state of New York are required to be licensed by the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA).

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Starting a Business? A Crash Course in Contracts 101
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Starting a Business? A Crash Course in Contracts 101 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! If you are planning to set up a company, you will need to draft certain documents, or have them prepared by a law firm knowledgeable in corporate law. # 1  — Setting Up Your Company – Start by setting up your company in the state where you live or Delaware. Many companies incorporate or form their business in Delaware because Delaware is business-friendly. In other words, they make the process easy and inexpensive.

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How to Start an International Nonprofit
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How to Start an International Nonprofit | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! In order to begin international operations with a nonprofit corporation, it is critical to first and foremost create the flagship nonprofit within the United States. Click ­here to read my previous article outlining the necessary steps to create a nonprofit corporation in the U.S. Nonprofits are mission-oriented entities created to improve the lives of the communities they serve. Their tax-exempt status allows them to fulfill their mission by keeping expenses as low as possible.

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How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in the U.S.
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How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in the U.S. | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! A U.S. nonprofit corporation is designed to address the needs of a certain demographic. Because a not-for-profit corporation often has a magnanimous mission statement designed to benefit others, this type of corporation is able to apply for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Creating a nonprofit corporation is much like creating a regular corporation except for the extra steps necessary to apply for a tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and state tax department.

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Protect Your IP by Avoiding These Mistakes
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Protect Your IP by Avoiding These Mistakes | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! Failing to assert intellectual property ownership can prove a costly mistake for an entrepreneur. There is a tendency on the part of entrepreneurs to assume that they can continue to develop their product without a patent, trademark, or copyright because they are just getting started. When one factors in the price tag of protecting intellectual property (IP) – $10,000 per patent and $2,000 per trademark – it is understandable why entrepreneurs may find themselves without adequate protection. The folly of waiting to protect intellectual property:

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Ultimate Pocket Guide: Negotiating a Commercial Lease
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Ultimate Pocket Guide: Negotiating a Commercial Lease | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! When a commercial space is rented, it is subject to a lease. The lease is usually provided by the landlord or building owner, and its duration can often range between 5 to 20 years. There are perennial issues I encounter in reviewing commercial leases:

  • The Standard Form of Store Lease is 6 pages long and contains a lot of small print. Nonetheless, the terms in that print are binding and should be taken seriously.

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Pitfalls in Publishing Agreements in 2015
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Pitfalls in Publishing Agreements in 2015 | Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 mins to read! For every professional artist, the end goal is to earn a living by marketing and selling their art. In the music industry, competition is intense, and physical sales have long been in a steep decline. Consequently, because the supply of available music is enormous and the barriers to industry entry are at an all-time low, musicians must utilize alternative means to generate revenue from their output.

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