Category: Business Law

Countdown To Launching Your Business: Key Legal Safety Checks
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Countdown To Launching Your Business: Key Legal Safety Checks | Bettina Eckerle

I advise many entrepreneurs who are in the process of starting a new business. Most of them are bootstrapped with little cash to spare on “luxuries,” like obtaining comprehensive legal advice. I can assure you based on my experience that some important issues should really be carefully deliberated and analyzed on day one. In this post, I aim to give you an overview of some important steps on the road to protecting and growing your company’s true value.

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What It Means to Be a Resourceful Attorney
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What It Means to Be a Resourceful Attorney | Harlan Levine

{3:10 minutes to read} Your attorney is a valuable resource—take advantage of his contacts. When an opportunity or problem arises, clients often do not hesitate to call their attorney. In addition to legal work, however, many attorneys have exposure to a network of other clients and business contacts that clients can benefit from. Your attorney can be a valuable resource for information, opportunities, and networkingwhether in your core business or a business in which you’d consider diversifying.

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Ghana: A Top Choice for Businesses Entering the African Marketplace
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Ghana: A Top Choice for Businesses Entering the African Marketplace | Tatenda Aloy Musewe

Entering an African marketplace requires rigorous strategic planning that incorporates the business’ goals and the market’s suitability to those goals. Naturally, access to accurate information is critical to the success of the business. In African jurisdictions, practice often differs greatly from expectations created by statutes, regulations, case law (where it exists), and government-originating communications. In addition, clients usually have concerns about political and economic stability in their regions of interest. These concerns have merit. 

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Are Your Marketing Efforts Visible?
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Are Your Marketing Efforts Visible? | Aimee B. Davis

{3:18 minutes to read} I like to say that everything I know about marketing, I taught myself. I didn’t study marketing in school. I never even took a marketing course. However, as the proprietor of Aimee B. Davis Law P.C., I’ve had to learn a great deal over the past 7 years about the best ways to promote my “laptop” law practice, but there is always more to learn about marketing in the digital age.

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Should I Agree to Arbitration? Part 2
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Should I Agree to Arbitration? Part 2 | Bart Eagle

{5:30 minutes to read} In my previous article, I provided an overview of arbitration and what happens if one chooses to take this path. In this continuation, I discuss discovery and motion practice, arbitrator selection and the hearing, and the finality of arbitration. Discovery and Motion Practice: The two main areas in which arbitration may differ from a lawsuit is discovery and motion practice. Oftentimes, the most time-consuming and expensive part of a lawsuit is discovery.

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A Curious Case of Fraud and Bankruptcy
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A Curious Case of Fraud and Bankruptcy | Mark Kaufman

A new client came to me admitting that he’d been defrauded hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the most direct route would be to sue the other party now and ask questions later, it’s in my client’s interest to get a result that’s actually payable—not to mention that unnecessary litigation is not a good use of money. For his part, the debtor claimed to want to do the right thing and create an agreement that would allow him to pay the debt back over time. This led me on a law-finding mission to determine how my client might be impacted if the debtor later filed for bankruptcy. Would an agreement constitute a waiver of my client’s rights to hold the debtor liable for the fraud?

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What Would Darwin Say to Today’s Businesses? Adapt!
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What Would Darwin Say to Today’s Businesses? Adapt! | Harlan Levine

{4:15 minutes to read} To appeal to new customers, businesses—and their owners— must be adaptable. Two weeks ago, I met with a potential new client who happened to be in his early 30s. As usual, I wore a suit and tie to our meeting. I thought one could never go wrong dressing like that, and that it’s always a safe bet; but for the first time, I felt there was a generational disconnect. Had I dressed neatly, but more casually, I would have been perceived more as a peer that the potential client could trust and relate to.

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Should I Agree to Arbitration? Part 1
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Should I Agree to Arbitration? Part 1 |  Bart Eagle

{5 minutes to read} People unfamiliar with the various forms of alternative dispute resolution often ask the difference between mediation and arbitration. In addition, they often want to know the difference between arbitration and a traditional lawsuit—meaning, going to court. The difference between mediation, which has been addressed in earlier articles, and arbitration is straightforward: In mediation, a neutral mediator will facilitate a negotiation between the parties with the goal of assisting the parties to arrive at a settlement that is reasonably satisfactory to all of them. The mediator makes no decisions, legal or factual; if the parties do not agree to a settlement, the case goes forward and would be resolved, if the dispute remains, in either arbitration or in court.

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How to Obtain Financing for Your Business
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How to Obtain Financing for Your Business | Aimee B. Davis

{3:48 minutes to read} Because I’ve represented several clients in the fashion merchandising industry, and have over 20 years of experience negotiating a wide variety of corporate transactions, I recently attended an Accessories Council event about financing sources for fashion and accessory businesses. The presentation was made by Paul Schulinder, SVP of Rosenthal & Rosenthal.

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Increased Rights for Whistleblowers in the Private Sector
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Increased Rights for Whistleblowers in the Private Sector | Mark Kaufman

A recent court decision in Kings County called Della Pietra v. Poly Prep Country Day School has expanded who can bring a cause of action under whistleblower provisions of the New York Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. While the case is significant, and potentially persuasive, it is not a binding precedent. The facts of the case are interesting. Della Pietra was working at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School when an administrator, employees, students and alumni took a trip to Cuba, apparently for the stated purpose of “a learning experience.” Indeed. Pietra became privy to what really occurred in Cuba: underage drinking, smoking, and participation in prostitution. When she went to the Board of Trustees and reported what she knew, she was allegedly harassed, defamed and ultimately fired.

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Mediation: What to Expect
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Mediation: What to Expect | Bart Eagle

{5:10 minutes to read} You’ve been sent to mediation. What’s next? You’re going to mediation; you asked or agreed to go, or a judge sent you. It shouldn’t matter. Embrace the opportunity! This is a “no risk” opportunity to settle your dispute, early on, before investing significantly more time and resources, and to do so on your own terms; the outcome will not be in the hands of a judge or jury. You will also have an opportunity—perhaps your first, and maybe the only one you will have, at least before a trial—to meet and speak directly to the other party. So go prepared to engage; to explain your position; ask questions; express your thoughts; and to listen—both to the other side and the mediator.

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Get It In Writing!
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Get It In Writing! | Mark Kaufman

Sometimes, in the heat of a new project or business opportunity, slowing down to make a written agreement seems boring, unnecessary, and even adversarial. When everything is going well, the parties can feel that reducing it to writing means they don’t trust each other. But an interesting, recent case illustrates exactly how important it is to “get it in writing”—and offers a lesson to anyone to confirm what each side expects in order to avoid a substantial misunderstanding.

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Let’s Go Work for Facebook!
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Let’s Go Work for Facebook! | Aimee B. Davis

{3:54 minutes to read} In last month’s blog, I mentioned that I regularly attend panel discussions, seminars and business development meetings to meet potential clients, confer with like-minded professionals, and learn new things along the way. I recently attended a presentation at Facebook’s NYC headquarters regarding How Social Media is Impacting Elections. The strategic use of social media seemed like a relevant topic, before the Republican nominee proved himself to be uncontainable in his Twitter rants.

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Trump’s Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Agreement Is Not Terrific. Believe Me.
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Trump’s Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Agreement Is Not Terrific. Believe Me. | Mark Kaufman

Recently Buzzfeed News published a reprint of part of a non-disclosure/non-disparagement agreement between Donald Trump’s campaign and anyone who works or volunteers for it — and it made me wonder just how enforceable it is. Under New York law, it’s pretty difficult to avoid a prohibition against sharing confidential information. The courts generally support the notion that if someone has information that’s confidential and proprietary (maybe even unique) to a company, the company should be able to protect itself, with very few exceptions. So, on its face, this agreement might be “fine.”

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Bottom Lines: Don’t Reveal, But Do Discuss
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Bottom Lines: Don’t Reveal, But Do Discuss | Gary Shaffer

{3:54 minutes to read} In my last blog I discussed why you should not reveal your bottom line during a mediation. You can read that here. My teaser line at the end was that it’s important for attorneys and clients to discuss bottom lines. And that discussion may have to occur several times. Parties generally enter a mediation with very different ideas as to what a case is worth or what it should settle for. The plaintiff thinks the defendant should take out the checkbook and be prepared to write a check with lots of zeros. The defendant thinks that any check should contain only zeros.

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Equity vs. Law: Understanding the Difference
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Equity vs. Law: Understanding the Difference | Bart Eagle

{5:30 minutes to read} The decisions that parties make at the beginning of a lawsuit can have lasting consequences throughout the litigation. Many litigants have heard that historically, there had been a distinction between courts of equity and courts of law. Today, while there still exists a distinction between equitable claims, such as actions for an injunction, and legal claims, such as actions for tort or breach of contract, the same courts and judges hear both equitable and legal claims.

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How Do You Define Success?
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How Do You Define Success? | Aimee B. Davis

{3:00 minutes to read} A solo practitioner or any type of freelancer should be prepared to face regular ebbs and flows in the level of work they receive. Before launching Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. and whenever I am struggling to get clients, I spend time on a daily basis thinking about how I can redefine success. I’ve expanded my definition of success to include having the freedom to choose my clients, associates and friends.

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Copyright Small Claims Court: The Devil is in Small Details
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{5:24 minutes to read} In a prior post, I mentioned that in September 2013, the U.S. Copyright Office had proposed a copyright small claims court as an alternative to full-blown civil litigation. Almost three years later, the Copyright Office’s proposal has moved onto the legislative agenda as a bill (H.R. 5757) in the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). H.R. 5757 largely follows the guidelines recommended by the Copyright Office. It would establish an optional, alternative forum for copyright infringement claims, employing a streamlined procedure and a cap on damages set at $15,000 per work infringed and $30,000 per action (for actions including more than one infringed work). The award of costs and attorney’s fees permitted under the Copyright Act would not be allowed except in cases of bad faith, and even then capped at $5,000.

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Why Throw Money at a Problem When Your Attorney Can Provide a Better Solution for Less?
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Why Throw Money at a Problem When Your Attorney Can Provide a Better Solution for Less? | Harlan Levine

{4:30 minutes to read} Resist the temptation of instant gratification for your legal problems and business decisions. Clients often call attorneys to get them out of legal jams or to help them negotiate complex situations. Obviously, they’re reaching out because they recognize their attorney’s expertise and skill. But many clients are so averse to conflict, they’re too willing to pay things off to get rid of a legal problem. This ends up costing them far more money than paying their attorney for the legal advice and services they called him or her for in the first place.

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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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Words Do Matter
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Words Do Matter | Aimee B. Davis

{3:54 minutes to read} In interpreting legal documents, the words actually matter. A well-trained attorney is best suited to understand and explain to a lay person the implications of the presence or absence of certain words. I often feel like I am speaking another language when discussing financing transactions, even with other attorneys less familiar with these types of deals. Generally, people just don’t understand what I’m saying.

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New Overtime Rules Expand Coverage to Millions
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New Overtime Rules Expand Coverage to Millions | Bart Eagle

{5:15 minutes to read} The Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and New York Labor Law each provide sections entitling employees who make less than a certain threshold income to overtime pay—meaning for any hours they work in excess of 40 hours per week. The federal law, which becomes effective December 1, 2016, raises the cut-off from $23,660 to $47,476 per year for most salaried workers. This means that more workers would be entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. There are certain exemptions, generally, for people who are employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity. However, these exemptions are narrowly construed.

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Termination Rights, Part 3: The British Commonwealth
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{4:18 minutes to read} In a prior post, Termination of Transfer – Part 1, I talked about Congress’s implementation of a two-term copyright structure, of 28 years each, in the US Copyright Act of 1909 (the act which governs copyright in works dated before 1978). The stated purpose was to permit authors a “second bite at the apple,” whereby they could profit anew from the exploitation of their works once the first term expired. As noted in that post, the structure failed to achieve its purpose. However, while Congress went out of its way to justify its 1909 Act structure, the structure certainly wasn’t novel. It was, in fact, the same structure that had been used in prior American copyright acts, and it can be traced back ultimately to the Statute of Anne, [1] the 1709 British statute celebrated as the forebear of modern copyright legislation in the English-speaking world.

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Listening to Your Attorney’s Advice is the Smartest Thing You Can Do
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Listening to Your Attorney’s Advice is the Smartest Thing You Can Do | Harlan Levine

{2:30 minutes to read} If you are considering entering into a contract or agreement, particularly one that involves a good deal of money, it is important to consult an experienced and capable attorney to represent your interests. However, that is only the first step.   The next step is to make sure that you actually heed the advice of the attorney representing you. While this seems obvious, clients often fail to listen to their attorney’s advice. The most common reason clients fail to listen to their attorney is that they are so anxious to get the agreement signed and believe the details are either insignificant or can be sorted out later. Unfortunately, this type of thinking is often a recipe for disaster. A good attorney will treat your matter as a priority and work as quickly as the other party and its representatives are able or willing.

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Commercial Mediation: What’s Your Bottom Line?
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Commercial Mediation: What’s Your Bottom Line? | Gary Shaffer

{3:06 minutes to read} When, if ever, do you let a mediator know your bottom line? There are three answers to this question:

  1. Never.
  2. When you say, “Okay, we can settle for that.”
  3. When it’s 6:30 p.m., and you (or your attorney or your client) have a 7:30 train to make. You know you’re pretty close to an agreement, and walking away now is painful given the time and money you’ve spent at the mediation. You don’t want to leave with the case unresolved, especially since you’ll have to wake up in the morning, and probably for quite a while, with the case still around.

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The Top 5 Provisions That Should Be in Your Contract Agreement
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The Top 5 Provisions That Should Be in Your Contract Agreement | Mark Kaufman

When we negotiate contracts with large corporations on behalf of computer programmers, app developers, and website developers, it’s like playing chess with someone who’s very good at the gameyou have to assume that everything you write is going to be considered carefully. You’re not going to squeeze something by a big company; it has experienced, in-house counsel just for this purpose. Let’s assume it’s going to be an ongoing relationship and not simply one project. In that case, you want to have a master agreement that has general provisions, and a task order or Scope of Work (SOW) for each specific project.

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The Disappearing Voice of the Small Business
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The Disappearing Voice of the Small Business | Harlan Levine

{Read in 3 minutes} Large corporations often retain lobbyists or employ government relations professionals to advance their agendas. But how do small businesses make their voices heard? Historically, small businesses relied upon their full-service distributors or trade associations, who themselves employed government relations specialists to promote their interests and that of their customers and members. But in recent years, many small businesses have migrated to distributors solely based upon price, and trade associations are consolidating, now often comprised of members of diverse sizes and conflicting agendas. Some cooperatives encourage member participation in the legislative process and make great efforts toward effectuating change. Others simply focus little on their government relations efforts.

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Discovery Rules: Changes in the Commercial Division
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Discovery Rules: Changes in the Commercial Division|Bart Eagle

{4:55 minutes to read} In an earlier article, I talked about the importance of discovery and how the ultimate disposition of a case can certainly be affected—win or lose—by what happens. As lawyers and many clients know, discovery can be very expensive and time-consuming. The default for most attorneys is to ask for everything to make sure they have “covered the waterfront”; after all, one does not want to miss an important document they may need for trial. In so doing, however, the cost can be astronomical and can far outweigh what is accomplished by actually securing voluminous documents or pieces of information.

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How (Not) to Handle a Disgruntled Client
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How (Not) to Handle a Disgruntled Client|Mark Kaufman

Let’s say I have a client who does landscaping. Their customer paid for part of the job by credit card and part of it in cash and was told to wait several weeks to see how things grow. A few days later, the customer emailed the landscaper:

This is a terrible job. I’m disputing the credit card charge. I also want a refund of the portion paid in cash. And if you don’t pay it back, I’m going to ruin you on social media.

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Happiness Is a Choice!
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Happiness Is a Choice! by Aimee B. Davis

{3:48 minutes to read} In May’s blog article, we introduced hypothetical characters, Mary and Barney, to demonstrate how differences in the work ethic of various employees can impact one’s professional and personal levels of satisfaction. As a reminder, Mary, a hard-working and well-intentioned employee, was asked to stay late by her boss. Barney, while an adequate employee, would not do as good a job, nor would he meet the important deadline with the same commitment as the boss knew Mary would.

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