Sunday, December 29, 2013

Proactive Small Business Planning

Protect Your New Business with Preventative Legal Planning

Most Legal Issues Can Be Resolved Before They Even Arise. Here’s How.

Most people are familiar with the idea of “preventative” legal action. The term refers to anticipating legal issues and conflicts and working to prevent them, rather than solving them or “winning” them once they occur. Companies can benefit from implementing preventative legal strategies as this approach is often less expensive than litigation, mediation, arbitration, and local, state and federal fines.

By working with an attorney early on in the creation of your new business, you can build a sound foundation for your company while likely saving money down the road. The following steps can serve as a great starting point for sound legal planning:

  1. Establish a relationship with an attorney who can assist you with the legal issues your new business will face early on in the start-up process. When an attorney is familiar with your firm from the onset, he or she can more effectively anticipate and address legal challenges and provide solutions. Also, many business law attorneys will allow for a flat-fee relationship that enables you to address legal issues as they arise without incurring any additional expenses.

  2. Determine what you want, negotiate it and memorialize it in proper legal documents. Businesses encounter disagreements with vendors, landlords, employees, partners and others. To minimize the number of conflicts, it’s important to establish written contracts for all important agreements, arrangements and accommodations.

    A business law attorney can help you identify all key concerns regarding employee compensation and benefits, property usage and maintenance, relationships with suppliers and responsibility and profit sharing with partners. An attorney can ensure that, when a question, disagreement or conflict arises, your interests are written down, clearly stated and legally protected by a mutual agreement with the party in question.

  3. There are many exciting steps in starting a new business venture; selecting the type of legal entity the business will be is rarely one of them. Yet, it’s important to select a business structure early. Corporations offer numerous advantages but also require officers, boards, articles of incorporation and other formalities. Partnerships and sole proprietorships are simpler than most other business structures but open owners to potentially costly liability. Limited liability companies offer a middle ground for many, providing a liability shield and comparative simplicity. A business attorney can help you determine which business structure will work best for you by taking into account tax planning, location and other key considerations.

Even with preventative legal planning, a lawsuit may arise. If it does, it’s important to approach it from a business, not a personal standpoint. This strategy can help you make decisions that are best for your company’s future, keep your focus on the day-to-day needs of your business and avoid unnecessarily disclosing information. For legal advice and hands-on assistance during the formation and continued operation of your business, contact a qualified business attorney.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Is ignorance of the law an excuse?

Should the criminal KNOW he or she is breaking the law and intend to do so?  Or is the act of breaking the law what counts?  This is an old debate in the law, but this study shows that “mens rea” (criminal intent) is increasingly not a factor.

As Federal Crime List Grows, Threshold of Guilt Declines

Monday, September 26, 2011

Know Your Rights About Medical Records

Did you know that you have the right to a copy of all of your medical records?  Read about it here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An Attorney’s Tips on Preventing Identity Theft

A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company:

1. When you are writing checks to  pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete  account number on the ‘For’ line.  Instead, just put the last four  numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it  passes through all the check processing channels won’t have access to it.

2. Put your work phone # on your  checks instead of your home phone. If you have a P.O. Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a P.O. Box, use your work address.  Never have your SS# printed on your checks.  You can add it if it is necessary, but if you have it printed anyone can get it.

3. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc.  You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.

4. Carry a photocopy of your passport when you travel either here or abroad.

We’ve all heard horror stories about fraud that’s committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

The corporate attorney who sent his employees the memo was motivated because he had recently had his wallet stolen.  Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change his driving record information online, and more.

Here is some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card
numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).

But here’s what is perhaps most important of all:

7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the internet in my name.

The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time the corporate attorney was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all  the credit checks initiated by the thieves’ purchases, none of which the attorney knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw his wallet away (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW):  1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union :  1-800-680 7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):  1-800-269-0271

Please share these tips with everyone you know so we can all prevent identity theft or at least know which steps to take to resolve identity theft.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christian Fraternity Sues the University of Florida for Recognition


The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal granted Beta Upsilon Chi’s time-sensitive motion for injunction pending appeal. The University must now recognize BYX during the appeals process. This favorable ruling protects BYX’s ability to pursue its ministry to students during the crucial period of time at the beginning of the school year.


Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), aka Brothers Under Christ is a Christian men’s fraternity that is dedicated to instilling Christian values in college men through Bible studies, accountability groups, and other activities. BYX was denied recognition as a registered student organization by the University of Florida because BYX requires its members to be Christian. The university perceived this requirement as a violation of the school policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion. By denying recognition to BYX, the university excluded it from a number of benefits made available to all other registered student organizations, including participation in the student organization fair, use of the facilities on campus, and access to channels of communication such as bulletin boards and listservs.
On July 10, 2007, counsel for BYX initiated a lawsuit against the University of Florida challenging the university’s exclusion of BYX as a violation of BYX’s First Amendment rights, including the right of expressive association. The right of expressive association protects an organization’s ability to form around a set of shared principles. As stated above, the purpose of BYX is to instill Christian values in college men, and this purpose will be hindered by the forced inclusion of individuals who are hostile to BYX’s shared faith commitments. Accordingly, BYX seeks a judicial declaration that the Constitution requires the University of Florida to recognize BYX as a registered student organization, with all the benefits that flow from such recognition.
On October 17, 2007, counsel for BYX filed a motion for preliminary injunction, in light of the irreparable harm caused by the University of Florida’s denial of recognition. For example, the University of Florida’s actions have hindered BYX from recruiting new members during fall rush, the most crucial time in the year for recruitment, and call into question the group’s continued viability. The district court rejected BYX’s motion on May 28, 2008.
On July 30, 2008, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted BYX’s time-sensitive motion for injunction pending appeal, thereby protecting BYX’s ability to recruit new members during fall rush as the circuit court considers BYX’s appeal of the district court’s decision.
BYX is represented by the Center for Law & Religious Freedom and the Alliance Defense Fund.
Press Releases
Litigation Documents
Complaint –  July 10, 2007.
Appellant’s Opening Brief – July 25, 2008
Gainesville Sun: Alice Wallace, All-male Christian fraternity sues UF – July 11, 2007
USA Today/Associated Press: Mitch Stacy, Christian frat sues University of Fla. – July 10, 2007
Media Appearances
Audio: Interview of Tim Tracey on Across the Nation with Bob Dunning, on the Catholic Channel – July 13, 2007 (contact Across the Nation for audio).
Video: Fox News interview of Tim Tracey and BYX students in Florida by reporter Orlando Salinas. August 13, 2007 (contact Fox News for video).
Blog Commentary
The Center Blog: Tim Tracey, Questioning Beta Upsilon Chi’s Piety, on whether the Bible permits lawsuits – July 12, 2007.
The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog: Andrew Mytelka, Christian Fraternity Sues U. of Florida Over Denial of Recognition – July 11, 2007.
The Center Blog: Tim Tracey, Center Sues University of Florida for Excluding Christian Fraternity, on the initiation of this lawsuit – July 10, 2007.
Other Resources
Beta Upsilon Chi: National organization.

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