Library

9
Jun

Top Places to Locate a Vendor

Top Places to Locate a Vendor or Business Client.

Top Places to Locate a Vendor or Business Client.

If you have recently started a business or are in the process of growing it, it is likely that you are looking for additional businesses and organizations in which to work with and from which to purchase goods. With over 300,000 wholesale distributors in the United States, the question arises, “Where are the best places to look for additional business?”

1. Government Contracts.
The U.S. government is one of the largest employers in the United States. As such, there are many government contracts that are available for small and medium-sized businesses. Business owners can identify several places to look for available opportunities with the U.S. government.

o System for Award Management (SAM). Businesses are able to search for their business resume to the government at this site which then allows other businesses to search their business based on size, location, capabilities, experience, and ownership after submitting their business resume to the government at this website.

o Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS). This is the database that allows small businesses to register for SAM. It provides the opportunity to fill out a company profile that other businesses can view. This is yet another way for small businesses to be awarded government contracts and possibly join other small businesses to create a joint venture.

o Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps). This is a collection of all federal business opportunities. All federal agencies are required to use this site to notify potential contractors and vendors of openings.

o General Services Agency (GSA). This is a site used by state and local government agencies to locate goods and services. Becoming a contractor on this list offers many benefits to a small business.

o Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) or Office for Small Business Programs (OSBP). These are two agencies whose goals are to locate and include small businesses as vendors in their databases. Being a part of these databases can prove to be very beneficial to small business owners. This is because it will allow small businesses owners to become active in either or both agencies.

2. Networking (Traditional and Online). This is a great way to not only find vendors but to also increase your business. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and other local Social Networks for business owners. By networking you can meet vendors in your area and also other business owners who may be able to direct you to quality vendors and possibly find which suppliers to avoid. Seminars are also a networking option that allow you to interact with others who have similar interests.

3. Trade Shows. By attending Trade Shows you will have the opportunity to speak directly to vendors and see the type of products that they have to offer. This will give you the opportunity to see the quality of the products and get a feel for their company.

4. Internet. The internet is a great place to begin your search because it permits you to search by product and by location. You can read reviews that other clients have posted, review the history of the company, and do intensive research about the company. You can find out how long they have been in business and if they have any negative reviews. Once you find a vendor in which you may be interested, you can check the company out with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB has a website that allows you to search online. The internet offers a wealth of information that can assist you in locating vendors.

Now that you know where to look for vendors, you need to know what makes a vendor a “good vendor.” There are several things that you should look for when choosing vendors or suppliers.

• Price- While the price of the merchandise being offered is important it may not be the most important indicator of a good vendor. Beware that the lowest price may not always be the best price, especially if they do not meet the other qualifications of an outstanding vendor.

• Reliability- This is one of the most important features of a good vendor. The vendor you choose must be able to deliver the correct number of items or merchandise that you need, on time and in good condition. It will cost you not only time and money but the possibility of losing customers if the merchandise they request is not available to them when it was promised or if it arrives damaged.

• Established- Although you may want to give another new business a chance, if the stakes are high, it may be wise to choose a company that is well-established and stable. However, if you have an opportunity that you can offer a new supplier that will not negatively affect your business in the event of any set-backs along the way, then working with a new supplier can be effective. This is especially true while they work to build their reputation and earn your trust.

When trying to select a vendor or supplier for your business, always be sure to investigate them thoroughly. After choosing the best vendor for your business, it is then time to locate an experienced business attorney. Our firm offers several professionals in this area who are able to help you prepare a contract between your company and your new supplier.

10
May

3 Reasons Having An Attorney Is Always Better than Using Online Contracts

There is a serious confidence that comes from having sound legal counsel for your business legal matters. This piece of mind cannot be replaced.

Bizman Reading

Three main reasons legal counsel will always outperform online templates are as follows:

1. Your Lawyer Should Care About Your Success.
For many companies, their business is a reflection of what they have spent the better part of their life building. They have invested a great amount of care and time into developing and growing what many refer to as “their baby.” Hiring legal counsel is better than downloading an online form because, you can select an attorney who truly cares about the success of your business. Your lawyer will prepare contracts tailored to the specific needs of your business and find the most effective ways to protect your company.
Sadly, many well-meaning businesses rely on online contract templates or services offering “legal like” assistance to create their legal documents. Although these services are an excellent option if you are conducting a small transaction such as selling furniture or low cost personal property. They are not your best choice when protecting your life’s work in business. For that you will want to rely on your own detail-oriented legal counsel.

2. Your Lawyer Can Help Prevent or Limit Future Expenses. The old adage that price is king still rings true for most businesses. However, making the investment in quality legal services from the start of your transaction, will help prevent the expense of correcting mistakes down the road. In addition, there are risks in relying on the lowest cost provider that are not always apparent. Oftentimes, online templates are broad and do not contemplate your specific situation. Also, they may not reflect the laws of the specific state where you will be using it.

As a result, if there is a dispute with the contract, your company may find itself litigating to settle unclarified issues.

That moment you realize you should have hired a lawyer first.

That moment you realize you should have hired a lawyer first.

Then a company will have to consider the average cost to bring or defend a lawsuit. If it is small that price can be from $5k-$10k on the low end and upwards of $15-$50k on the higher end. In comparison, the cost of preparing detailed and customized contracts can be several hundred dollars on the low-end to a couple of thousand on the high end. This is much more affordable. One may consider contract templates a good alternative for the convenience and price. Ultimately, hiring traditional legal counsel turns out to be the most affordable choice for the most protection.

3. Your Lawyer Can Provide Additional Counsel with Your Agreement. The advice your lawyer provides to help you execute your agreement can be invaluable. Even if the idea of handling your own legal matters may sound good, especially if it involves easy-to-use legal forms that require only filling out blank boxes, think carefully about it. Often generic templates do not take into account the additional legal counsel or specific business requirements that you should consider. For example, you may download a partnership agreement for your new accounting firm thinking that will be all you need. However, your business will not only need to consider drafting the partnership agreement, it will also need to consider the following:

PERMITS. The contract should confirm that the accounting professionals have the state required permits and licensing for CPAs.

EMPLOYEES. The agreement will need to set forth if any employees will need to be contemplated in the business operations. If so, the agreement should identify the person who will set-up the registration with the Unemployment Offices, Bureau of Workman’s Compensation, and Department of Taxation.

REGULATORY COMPLIANCE. The agreement should outline if the Accounting business will be sending any direct mailers. If so, it must ensure that those mailers comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations as well as those with the Consumer Sales Practices Act at the state and local levels.

TAX. If forming a partnership of any kind, the business owners will want to determine if there is sale tax collected or remitted in the business that would necessitate obtaining a vendor’s license and registering with the Attorney General.

These are just some of the considerations that downloading an online template alone cannot provide. Consequently, if companies want to add more detailed language to the contract, or negotiate a particular clause, template forms do not allow it. Contact a knowledgeable and effective lawyer to assist you today.

References:
1. The disadvantages of using standard contracts, by Kevin Johnston, Demand Media.
http://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-using-standard-contracts-31472.html (Last visited 4/5/2016).

2. Understanding the pros and cons of standard form construction contracts, by Steven C. Beckman. 07/31/2010. http://www.macdonaldillig.com/understanding-the-pros-and-cons-of-standard-form-construction-co.html

3. Good contract terms and conditions are vitally important and need to reflect both good risk allocation and post execution contract, by X. Paul Humbert and Robert C. Mastice. http://www.europeanfinancialreview.com/?p=4102 (Last visited 4/5/2016).

4
May

4 Types of Employment Contracts

Bringing aboard new employees? When considering which employment contracts would work best for your business, consider what an employment contract is and how your business can benefit from it? An employment contract is an agreement between employer and employee setting forth the terms of employment. An employment contract may be written, oral, or implied. There are four types of contracts that fit into these three categories. Businesses can offer At-Will Employment Contracts, Written Employment Contracts, Oral Employment Contracts, or Implied Employment Contracts.

4 Employment Contracts

1.At-Will Employment Contracts: This is the most common employment contract in the United States. In this type of contract the employee can quit or be fired at any time for any reason as long as it is not illegal. Illegal reasons would include discrimination such as terminating a person in a protected class or for retaliation. When a new employee is hired he receives a contract from his employer that states his salary, position, duties and hours. The employee signs the contract accepting the terms. It is also signed by the employer. Although, the employee can be terminated at-will, he still has the right to enforce the terms of the contract.

2.Written Employment Contracts: A written contract is a much more detailed contract. It sets out specific obligations for both the employer and the employee. A written contract generally runs for a specific length of time. It normally requires the employee to agree to work for a fixed period of time and for the employer to retain them for the decided on period of time. Specific terms of termination are laid out in a written contract. An Employee cannot be terminated unless they violate the terms of the contract.

3.Oral Employment Contracts: Oral contracts are legal and binding; however, they are much more difficult to prove. An oral contract may be for at-will employment which means that the employer can terminate your employment at any time, or it may be orally agreed that the employee will work for a specific amount of time as long as they are doing what the oral agreement required of them. If the employee is terminated for any reason other than the terms set forth in the oral agreement it would be considered a breach of contract. The basis for enforcing this type of contract would be the reliance of the parties, the surrounding circumstances, and any documentation that shows evidence of the oral agreement.

4.Implied Oral Contracts: These contracts are not formally documented. They can be a combination of both written and oral statements. Most implied oral contract issues do not arise until after the employee has been terminated. An employee may believe that it has been implied that he will not be terminated without good cause. The employer may argue that the employee was an at-will employee. If the employee signed an at-will agreement he will not be permitted to argue that he had an implied agreement. The court will have to determine whether there was an implied oral contract or not. Many factors will be taken into consideration including the length of time that an employee worked for the company and their performance reviews.

When trying to determine the best choice of business contract for your new company it is wise to let a qualified business attorney assist you with the difficult decisions that you are facing. The professionals at Gonzalo Law LLC can answer your legal questions regarding employment contracts and any other questions you may have regarding your business.

18
Mar

Businesses Should Be On Guard for Phishing Scams

Phishing

Email phishing has become a widespread problem throughout the cyber world. Almost everyone is vulnerable to phishing. Phishing occurs when a fraudulent email appears to originate from a legitimate business. The business is usually a well-known organization that a person regularly conducts business with such as a financial institution, internet provider, or any other similar organizations. There is usually a link in the email that directs you to another website that is a sham. These sites will ask for personal information about you to allegedly verify your identity but in reality they are deceiving you into divulging this information so that they may commit identity theft.

These scams are generally worded in such a way as to induce panic in the recipient. They often tell the addressee that there has been fraudulent activity on their account or they may lose something such as their account if they don’t immediately respond. Another indication of email phishing would be the poor grammar and misspelled words that accompany the email. Cybercriminals are not known for having strong spelling or grammar. Legitimate companies and organizations never conduct business in this fashion. If there is a genuine issue with your account, a recognized company or organization will contact the client via telephone or a letter through the mail.
Microsoft offers the following advice on how to protect yourself from phishing scams by using the Microsoft tools that are available:

 Internet Explorer. While you are on a suspicious site, click the gear icon and then point to Safety. Then click Report Unsafe Website and use the web page that is displayed to report the website.
 Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail). If you receive a suspicious email message that asks for personal information, click the check box next to the message in your Outlook inbox. Click the arrow next to Junk and then point to Phishing scam.
 Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 and 2013. Right-click the suspicious message, point to Junk, and then click Report Junk.
Governments from around the world are taking a tough stance on phishing. Recently an Eastern European man from Moldova was arrested and charged with running an international phishing scheme which permitted him along with several others to steal $25 million from banks and various companies worldwide. He is currently being held in jail as a flight risk until he is called to trial in Federal Court.
As cybercriminals become more adept at deceiving the public, it is more important than ever that companies and individuals are constantly on the lookout for any type of suspicions activity that may occur. If you feel that you may have been a victim of email phishing, which may then lead to identity theft, you may want to consider contacting an attorney who specializes in business. They will be able to advise you of your rights. Most importantly always remember never open any suspicious emails or click on any links that were sent to you unsolicited.
References:
1. Safety and Security. Microsoft, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. <https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx>.
2. “What Are Phishing Scams and How Can I Avoid Them?” What Are Phishing Scams and How Can I Avoid Them? The 2015 Trustees of Indiana University, 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. <https://kb.iu.edu/d/arsf>.
3. “FindLaw | Legal News & Information.” Global Phishing Email Suspect to Remain Jailed until Trial. Associated Press, 2 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. <http://news.findlaw.com/apnews/2ea1ce5970344e8288b0fa856d4474f1>.

9
Mar

Changes in the Housing Market Since 2008? Perhaps, Yet There is Still Work to Do.

Real Estate Contracts

It has been nearly a decade since the mortgage crisis exploded in the U.S. and it does not appear to be over yet! While federal lawmakers implemented laws to aid homeowners avoid foreclosure, relief often came too late for many.  However, although the housing market is making a noticeable come back, banks appear to be more reluctant to lend to buyers. After being hit with hefty penalties for the handling of mortgage modifications and foreclosures, banks are now less willing to provide mortgage loans to their clients. For this reason, private equity firms and hedge funds have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages from banks and federal agencies at a discounted price. Sometimes these discounts are up to 30%. Initially, this pleased the Federal Housing Officials. They believed that the new financial firms had found ways to make more creative options available to troubled borrowers. However, it recently came to the attention of the of housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers that many private equity firms and hedge funds have actually been less effective than banks in offering loan modifications to borrowers and may be more likely to push mortgages into foreclosure.

One example, Lone Star Funds is a private equity firm which was founded in 1995 by John Grayken. It is a $60 billion dollar operation. The mortgage servicing department of Loan Star, Caliber Home Loans, received numerous complaints concerning the way they serviced their loans. Borrowers, housing advocates, and lawyers have uncovered a pattern of grievances citing the hedgefunds for being quick to begin foreclosure proceedings, regardless of how they obtained the loans.

Dozens of lawmakers recently signed and sent a letter to housing regulators admonishing them to disqualify aggressive investors such as Loan Star Funds and its subsidiary Caliber Home Loans from being permitted to purchase distressed loans. The letter which was addressed to both the Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julián Castro, along with the Federal Housing Finance Agency Director, Melvin L Watt, states: “Entities that pay lip service to legitimate loan modification requirements while engaging in unfair or abusive practices toward borrowers should not be able to use government programs to profit from the continuing legacy of the financial and foreclosure crisis.”

Lawmakers are asking the federal agencies to consider selling the loans to agencies that are committed to foreclosure prevention. They would also like the agencies to provide greater detail regarding the loan sales, including the criteria that is currently being used to determine which loans go into the group of loans that are put up for auction. They have similarly requested data on how vacant properties are treated as compared to properties that are occupied.

Although the mortgage crisis has not come to a complete end, lawmakers are striving to protect the rights of homebuyers. If you are a financial institution that wants to ensure that you are following the proper legal requirements, you may want to enlist the aid of a qualified business attorney who will be able to discuss what legal steps you will want to take.

References:

  1. Moyer, Liz. “Lawmakers Urge Greater Care With Sales of Distressed Mortgages.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 01 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/business/dealbook/lawmakers-urge-greater-care-with-sales-of-distressed-mortgages.html?ref=topics>.
  2. Goldstein, Matthew, and Rachel Abrams. “New York Attorney General Examining Private Equity Firm’s Mortgage Business.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 06 Oct. 2015. Web. 03 Mar. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/business/dealbook/new-york-attorney-general-examining-private-equity-firms-mortgage-business.html?ref=topics>.
4
Mar

FBI vs. Apple

                                                                                            FBI               

As the accuracy and precision of technology improves, tech companies struggle to answer unavoidable and complex questions. Whether they want to or not, companies face the challenge to find a balance between the privacy rights of individual users and the national security interest of the entire public. This is most clearly demonstrated in the current stand-off between the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) and leading tech company, Apple, due to Apple’s encryption software.

The basic facts are that the FBI compelled Apple, through a court order, to decrypt an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook in terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, California. Farook was one of two shooters involved in the attacks. The FBI believes relevant information belonging to the attackers will be found in the phone. Apple appealed the order, alleging that it “would set a dangerous precedent for government intrusion on the privacy and safety of its citizens.” Apple believes that “protecting security and privacy of hundreds of millions of iPhones is the right thing to do.”

In its defense, Apple representatives asserted that shortly after the attacks, Apple offered the assistance and advice of its engineers to law enforcement. However, the FBI was ultimately unable to obtain data from the iPhone in question due to a change of the password. FBI Director, James Comey, admitted in a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, that the FBI made a “mistake” in the way it handled the phone immediately following the attacks. At that time, the FBI asked San Bernardino county officials to change the password on Farook’s phone. Apple’s software on the phone was designed to prevent access to the encrypted data when a user fails to type the correct password after several attempts. By trying to reset the password, the FBI locked the operating system in the phone and lost all opportunities to access electronic information stored in it without the assistance of Apple.

With time, the situation has become more complicated for both Apple and the FBI. The arguments in favor and against multiply with every passing minute. The primary question relates to the right to privacy and national security. Should tech companies, Apple in the present case, have the right (and power) via encryption software to bar law enforcement authorities from obtaining electronic information that may be considered evidence of crime? Should law enforcement force tech companies like Apple to cooperate with investigations and comply with requests to break encryption software under the national security argument? The FBI alleges that the decryption request is for Farook’s phone only; however, it seems difficult to narrow such a request solely to this specific case. This is because surely there will be similar cases in the future compelling the same collaboration from tech companies. The concern of Apple is that giving the government access defeats the purpose of encryption and its security features and this will put the personal information of every iPhone user at risk.

In the present case, Apple argues that it is unable to decrypt the phone because security features require the creation of a new product that does not exist to gain access to electronic information stored in the device. In response to that argument, the FBI has stated that Apple only has to create a software that would weaken the encryption. This would allow the FBI to unlock the operating system to access the electronic information on the device in question. The parties involved are at a point of impasse that perhaps only the courts can resolve. The encryption system created by Apple has its advantages and disadvantages as shown by the facts of the case.

The case is currently being argued in the courts. Congress, if it decides to act, will have multiple obstacles to resolving the matter through legislation. The battle between Apple and the FBI is likely a precursor to future confrontations. Similar cases will follow as tech companies develop stronger products that prevent law enforcement access. Both sides have valid arguments that require deep analysis. However, regardless of who wins the current battle; technology will constantly change and law enforcement may have to evolve with it.

References:

  1. FBI Error Locked San Bernardino Attacker’s iPhone, by Cecilia Kang and Eric Lightblau, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/technology/apple-and-fbi-face-off-before-house-judiciary-committee.html?_r=1 (Last visited 3/2/16).
  2. FBI Director: ‘A mistake was made’ in handling San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone, by Seung Lee, http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-director-mistake-was-made-handling-san-bernardino-shooters-iphone-432172 (Last visited 3/2/2016).
  3. Apple questions FBI’s right to compel creation of anti-encryption software, by Erin Kelly, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/03/01/apple-fbi-face-off-house-hearing-encryption/81111440/ (Last visited 3/2/16).
2
Mar

3 Key Considerations When Implementing Employment Contracts

Employment Contracts
It is undeniable that contracts are used in business across the globe.  Established business owners may have considered the idea of having employees sign an employment contract. Although it is important to ensure that expectations are clear for all parties, there are three considerations that you should be sure to keep in mind. This is because contracts are not created to protect only employers, yet also to protect employees. Three important considerations include, although not limited to, the following:

1. Binding Agreement– Employment contracts are legally binding. Once the contract is signed, all parties must adhere to the rules that were set forth in the agreement. If halfway through the contract for services, you find that your company no longer requires an employee in this position, the employee cannot simply be terminated. Breaking the contractual agreement is a clear breach of contract, unless there was some mutual agreement otherwise. If no mutual agreement to the contrary had occurred, then the company must continue to employ the contracted employee during the contract period. For example, if your company agreed to provide a benefits package in the agreement, you cannot refuse to pay these benefits later. The only way to change the terms of an employment contract is with the mutual consent of the employee who will be affected by the changes or contractual terms.

2. Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing– By entering into an employment contract, a company agrees to negotiate and work with the employee in an honest and fair manner as well as in good faith. This means that a company must meet the obligations that were set forth in the contract, including ones that may have been implied. Your company is not permitted to use dubious means to avoid or disregard the agreed upon understanding of the contract. By doing so you may find yourself faced with a lawsuit for a breach of contract.

3. Employer Obligations– If after entering into an employment contract, your company finds that your employee is not meeting the expectations of the company, the employer will need to review the contract terms closely. Unless there is a contractual provision to the contrary, a company may have to continue to employ the employees even if they are not meeting expectations. In addition, this is true even if the workload decreases and you have more employees than necessary to complete the work.  You must still abide by the terms of the contract. This can be very costly if you are paying salaries and benefits to employees that are not producing an adequate work product for the company.  As such, carefully drafting these terms in the beginning is key for every employer.

Although  these are key considerations to an employment contract, one must look at each individual business to customize an agreement to meet the needs of the company. One should weigh all of the benefits and disadvantages before making a decision. While these are just a few things to consider when determining if an employment contract is right for your business, it is always sensible to seek guidance from a qualified business attorney. The professionals at Gonzalo Law LLC can assist you with your business needs.

24
Feb

Why Are Oil Prices Falling?

image
Over the last four years, oil prices had remained constant. However, in the last seven months prices per barrel have dropped considerably. In 2010, a barrel of crude sold at approximately $110 dollars per barrel, whereas in 2014 the price per barrel dropped to below $50 a barrel. This drop can be attributed to several different reasons. The US is increasing production of crude oil, and the slowing economic growth in several countries which has reduced demand, especially China. Currently, US oil production is at the highest levels it has been at in 30 years. In addition, the recently lifted sanctions on Iran have been lifted and it will begin producing oil as well adding to an already flooded supply. These reasons coupled with the fact that Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister, Ali al-Naimi, has declared that The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will not be reducing production regardless of how low the price per barrel may fall, has also had an affect. These falling prices will have a major impact on business and the economy in a number of ways.
The continued lower cost of oil is likely to produce a decline in prices in a number of areas. Shipping costs will decrease due to lower fuel costs allowing for stores to be able stock their shelves at a lower rate than they were previously capable of doing. Lower fuel costs also affects the prices of petrochemical products such as fertilizer and plastics. This is due to raw materials being less expensive. With the continued drop in oil prices eventually every product will see a reduction in price causing core inflation to dip even lower.
Interest rates are likely to rise while oil prices decrease. Lower oil prices at the pump will drastically reduce the amount of capital in the accounts of oil producing nations. This can cause the global savings rate to fall and interest rates to rise.
Although the US is one of the largest oil producers in the world, over half of oil used in the US is imported. The current drop in oil prices will provide at least short term benefits to American consumers along with assistance to countries that must import oil. However, it will have a major impact on oil producing nations such as Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. These top four oil producing nations have different opinions on how best to manage oil production. Previously there was talk of scaling back on oil production, yet recent talks indicate that they are leaning toward putting a freeze on the present oil production. This is a major shift for Saudi Arabia who has continued to increase production even as the price per barrel dropped.
Venezuela’s economy relies heavily on oil prices and has very little other financial revenues. They are hopeful that the other major oil producing nations will be able to reach an agreement on how best to handle the current oil situation. While Saudi Arabia and Russia also rely heavily on the oil industry they are more financially stable than Venezuela. No final decision has been reached at this time but the four major oil suppliers agreed that if the other exporters of oil freeze production then they will do the same. It will not be easy to have all of the oil producing nations agree to freeze oil production. However, it may be the best solution for oil producers.

References:
1. “The Impact of Falling Oil Prices.” The Impact of Lower Oil Prices. JP Morgan, 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. .

2. Kramer, Andrew E., and Stanley Reed. “Russia and 3 OPEC Members Agree to Freeze Oil Output.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Feb. 2016. Web. 16 Feb. 2016. .

19
Feb

What is a Dual Representation Agreement with a Lawyer and When is it Used?

ProsCons             Deciding when to invest in an attorney is an important decision. Frequently, people hope to save money and have one attorney or agent represent the interests of both individuals on either side of a dispute. However, in order to do so the attorney must comply with strict disclosure rules for the state in which he or she is practicing. Both parties on either side of the conflict must be made aware that there is a potential conflict, that they have the right to independent representation, and they generally are required to sign a written agreements acknowledging they have been made well aware of their rights. Sometimes this agreement is reached and both parties and the attorney will review and be asked to sign a conflict of dual representation agreement. In this agreement you are consenting to allow one attorney represent both parties. If both parties have a similar objective then this could be a very cost effect decision. It is usually used for simple legal matters in which both parties share a common interest. However, it is important to note that in the instances where clients have two interests that directly, materially, and substantially conflict with one another, then legal counsel may not represent both individuals even after the parties have consented to representation with a dual representation agreement. These agreements are often used in real estate transfers where one party is selling property to another without going through a realtor. The price has been determined and the legal documents just need to be filled out and filed.

               In addition, there are several things in which an attorney must be aware, prior to signing this agreement. One of the most important factors is attorney client confidentiality. When both parties are represented by a single attorney, the attorney is not able to withhold information from either party. Therefore, there is no confidentiality between the dually represented parties. Further, if the parties later decide to seek separate representation, several states will allow the attorney to use the prior information shared amongst the parties with the remaining client, as long as it is not to directly harm the prior client. If one signs a conflict of dual representation agreement, one is agreeing that the attorney may share all information between both parties which can include financial information and other personal information as well. Possible conflicts of interest may arise between clients due to differences in opinions on how things should be handled. When this happens, it is very difficult for the attorney to represent the individual best interest of each party. If there is even the slightest chance that there could be a conflict, it would be in the best interest of all parties to hire separate legal counsel to ensure that the best interest of all parties are being met.

               After discussing their wish to be represented by the same attorney, the attorney is required to draft a written agreement disclosing all the rights and obligations of legal counsel and the parties. This can be a short and to the point agreement or a very long and detailed one depending on the attorney and what your legal matter is. The attorney is legally obligated to tell you that it would be in your best interest to hire separate counsel. However, if you choose to continue with a single lawyer, then you are aware that a conflict may arise. You will agree that you are aware that there will be no attorney client confidentiality between the parties. If you are in agreement then all parties will be asked to sign the agreement.

               Conflict of dual representation agreements are not generally recommended due largely to the fact that a conflict will arise at some point and create an even bigger problem. Prior to signing this agreement, all parties should be completely sure they are in agreement as to how matters should be handled. They should also be clear on the steps they will take if and when a conflict arises and how it will be settled. When choosing an attorney to handle your legal matters, make sure to find a qualified business attorney who is knowledgeable in this field and will advise you of your rights and options.

17
Feb

What is the Effect of Lifting the Trade Embargo on Cuba?

Cuba

The story of Cuba and the United States is headed for yet another historic chapter in its history. When President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union Address on January 12, 2016, he announced his plans to lift the 50-year embargo on Cuba. President Obama has worked to improve relations with Cuba since December 2014. On January 27, 2016, new regulations that expanded the list of exports to Cuba were issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). In addition, there were also amendments to how U.S. entities can finance its exports to Cuba, air carrier services, and travel to the island.  These are part of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) and Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

FINANCING

            The new amendment will lift the current restrictions on financing for most types of authorized U.S. exports to Cuba. This includes payments and financing terms for all authorized exports. However, restrictions on agricultural commodities and related agricultural items will remain in place as required by current statutes. U.S. financial institutions will be permitted to provide financing and letters of credit for U.S. exports to Cuba as well as on re-exports, which are the shipments of an item subject to the EAR from one foreign country (i.e., a country other than the United States) to another foreign country.

EXPORTS

            This new amendment was created with the intent to support Cuban people and expedite authorized U.S exports to Cuba. Additional travel to Cuba will be permitted to conduct market research, commercial marketing, sales or contract negotiations and other similar activities. Applications for licensing for exports and re-exports that will assist human rights organizations such as software and commodities will generally be approved. Licensing will also be approved for software and commodities for U.S. news bureaus in Cuba with the principal purpose of gathering news and distributing it to the public. Applications with regard to telecommunication items that will improve communications with the Cuban population will also be approved. Licensing for items that are necessary to guarantee the safety of civil aviation and also the safe operations of transportation that is involved in international transportation is included as well.

AIR CARRIER SERVICES

            The new amendment will lift many of the current restrictions currently in place on carrier air services such as entry in to Cuba, using currently blocked air space and code sharing.

TRAVEL

            Authorization will be expanded to allow travel into Cuba for additional purposes than are currently available. These areas of industry will include personnel who are authorized to service or operate vessels or aircraft. They will be permitted to participate in travel related transactions in Cuba. Travel will be allowed for persons who are employed or have a direct involvement with media or artistic productions. These include the right for those who will participate in music recordings, film production, television and creating artwork. Professional meetings and conferences will also be issued licenses to organize and attend in Cuba. Public performances, athletic events, clinics, workshops, competitions and exhibitions will now be eligible for licensing. Humanitarian projects will be expanded to include disaster preparation and response.

            If you would like more information on exporting, financing or travel to Cuba or any other type of business transaction involving Cuba, a qualified business attorney can advise and assist you. Then you can determine what the necessary requirements are for filing an application and acquiring the essential licensing that is needed.

References

  1. Department of Commerce. “Commerce and Treasury Announce Further Amendments to the Cuba Sanctions Regulations.” Department of Commerce. Office of Public Affairs, 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <https://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2016/01/commerce-and-treasury-announce-further-amendments-cuba-sanctions>.
  2. Mosendz, Polly. “PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS FOR LIFTING CUBAN EMBARGO IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS.” Newsweek, 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://www.newsweek.com/cuba-embargo-president-obama-state-union-414972>.