Category: Business litigation lawyers

managing partners

Business Owners & Managing Partners—Keep those Minutes Updated

There may have been a lightbulb moment when you—and perhaps with a partner or two also—came up with a breathtaking idea, an invention that you knew would be in great demand later if you could just turn it into reality and become business owners or managing partners. Along with the latitude to work on and build your own business model, being your own boss means setting your own hours, making your own decisions, and being in much greater control of your life and its direction. Hopefully, there is the potential for making a good living, as well as the possibility for helping other people in your community or maybe even around the world.

There are numerous downsides to owning a company too, from typical daily stressors like managing a team to figuring out how to keep cash flow running properly. There are a variety of different little headaches in between also, and many of them relate to corporate administrative tasks. While they may seem like the easiest to procrastinate on, they can multiply out of control before you realize it. If you do not have someone handling these tasks for you, or if they need to be delegated, do so as quickly as possible. Scheduling corporate meetings, keeping up with all the records, and tending to the minutes is a perfect example. Keeping of the minutes is required for tax purposes and by federal law, and in most cases if you are the head of a traditional corporation or are the managing partner of another type of formal business entity (depending on state law), notes must be taken during at least one meeting per year.

Keeping the minutes for your company may be as simple or as complicated as you deem necessary, with notes usually expected too from meetings between shareholders, activities such as hiring new employees and giving them raises, bringing in new officers, and financial events like taking out loans or opening new accounts.  All in attendance during such meetings or events should be noted, with the minutes kept in a secure location with the rest of your corporation’s important paperwork.

Do you have questions about a business issue, or do you need legal assistance regarding a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business disputes

Most Entrepreneurs Will Have to Deal With at Least One Business Dispute

If you are a business owner in the US, then you probably understand what a double-edged sword such a venture can be–and one that may sometimes lead you into business disputes. The initial idea of controlling your own fate and your own career, making your own schedule, and reaping the financial rewards of your hard work and success can all be enticing; however, there are also many responsibilities to handle that can be extremely stressful—especially in the first years. The greatest anxiety may be over money and making sure you have enough capital to keep going, but equal to that is the challenge of keeping the customers coming through the door in what may be a very competitive marketplace.

Because you may be dealing with so many different entities, there is the chance for a business dispute or lawsuit to arise at some point. While you could be forced to face a liability issue due to an incident like a customer slipping and falling or becoming harmed due to a product you prepare or sell, there could also be a problem with a business peer. This could also be a business partner. And although you may be tempted to head to court or throw in the towel regarding what could be a relationship of many years, consult with your business attorney about the best course of action. You may also be forced to deal with a wide range of employee issues over the years. By educating yourself and your human resources department as much as possible, you should be able to ward off problems before they occur, from payroll or overtime issues to sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

Many business disputes arise with vendors too; for example, if you own a restaurant, you may have very close dealings and even personal working relationships with food vendors. These are people you probably talk to several times a week and when something goes wrong or there is an accounting discrepancy, tensions can run high—especially when everyone is working in a fast-paced industry known for causing stress. Tempers can flare, and conflicts can escalate beyond what you may ever have imagined. It is important however, to take a step back and consider the future of your business before ending a relationship that you may struggle without later.

Your attorney may suggest mediation, as it offers a more casual atmosphere for resolving legal issues. This form of alternative dispute resolution is more affordable and usually faster too. The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all business litigation matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

buyout agreements

Buyout Agreements Should Be Airtight

As a business owner, you take on a multitude of responsibilities that may not have been part of the original starry-eyed dream; in fact, the world of commerce continues to become more complicated as human resources issues grow around the US, tax laws are ever changing, the economy is unpredictable, and the marketplace is fiercely competitive for most industries today. But what about issues within your own business foundation, such as partnerships? Whether you own equal parts of the company or you control most of it, solid business contracts should be created in the beginning.

The beginnings of any startup can be both an extremely stressful but forward-thinking time. Full of excitement and positivity for most, if you are working with one or more partners, it is probably like the honeymoon phase of a marriage in some ways. You can’t imagine ever dissolving your business relationship; after all, you are in it together. And partnerships in business do offer a wide range of benefits. You can share duties, share the stress, create products and services together, watch your company grow (not unlike a family), offset financial burdens as you work together in providing capital to the company, and set goals for the future. While the going is good, however, get that partnership contract in place, and cover all the bases—even if some of them may be uncomfortable in discussing what could happen in the future.

The partnership agreement should outline the typical basic structure such as who is involved and who will do what. Titles should be agreed on and included in the agreement, as well as payment and profit-disbursement structures. Even more importantly, there should be a concrete dispute resolution clause—and creating this while everyone is on good terms can be vital to the success of your business should there be a major falling out or even a lawsuit later. This allows you to discuss how a dispute would be handled, where, and even who would pay attorney’s fees. Along those lines, there should also be comprehensive clauses covering what happens in the case of dissolution and/or a buyout. Will you want the right to buy out the partner’s shares? Will they be able to hand down their shares to family members or others outside the organization? Just as the partnership felt like a new marriage in the beginning, dissolving or completing a buyout may feel strangely like a divorce. And you must work just as hard to protect your assets!

Along with having the business assessed properly for valuation, there will be significant paperwork to be handled by your business attorney. Keeping the situation as civil as possible can be key to everyone parting ways with success, and your lawyer acting as the negotiating party could be a vital part of this action. The key is to hedge your bets in the beginning and uphold your partnership contract to the end.

The Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of clients through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

domain name

Protecting Your Domain Name

Building a business today consists of numerous new factors, in comparison to times past. There is very little focus on getting those business cards printed and letterhead made—after all, it’s a paperless world, and most of us spend time communicating about commerce online rather than in person these days. The major priorities are still the same. Do you have enough capital, and will it last long enough to keep you going through the lean startup years? Are your products or services innovative enough? What about partnerships, establishing a team of employees, and contacting vendors?

Bringing customers in the door is key as always, but your domain name can be the portal to millions online—even around the world. It may or may not be accompanied by a trademark but is in many cases even more vital to your success. While other intellectual property is maintained through application, registration, and licensing through government entities like the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, your domain should be registered and protected through a reputable registrar. There, you are able not only to purchase your domain name (something like example.com) but also a select a variety of different intervals for renewing, or auto-renewals—with this being central to the protection of your address. If you forget or neglect to renew (a more common problem for those with multiple domains to manage), this is where you could become vulnerable, as someone else could intercept or purchase what could be a very popular domain name choice address for their own.

Having a strong password is vital, as well as a domain transfer lock so that it can be switched to anyone else without your permission. You may also be able to register your domain through the USPTO if it clearly identifies the products and services that your company offers to the public. Aside from that, you may also have your trademark (denoting products, usually with a symbol or design meant to gain familiarity with the public) or service mark (often this is a slogan describing what you do) listed on your website, and it should be duly protected no matter what. Even though intellectual property technically does belong to you as soon as you create it, registration through the proper office means that you have much greater legal recourse in the case of infringement.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Business Litigation Issues

Business Litigation Issues: Why that Initial Contract Is So Important

In business dealings, three words are key: Get it in writing. Even though a handshake and a verbal agreement may seem like enough—and even though you may have heard that contracts are just made to be broken, you have a much greater chance for gaining legal recourse with a signed and notarized business agreement fully outlining the details of a transaction or ongoing relationship. And although an airtight business contract may be what allows you to win in court should litigation be necessary, it may also be what prevents a court case from developing to begin with.

A contract with a vendor would be a typical example where a business contract is helpful, as they are providing goods and services to you for payment. In working with your business attorney to create a solid agreement, focus on the following:

  • List all the individuals and companies involved in the agreement.
  • Use language that is clear, so everyone is in complete understanding of all the details. While every contract is prone to having some legalese, the agreement should be easy to read, with all parties involved comfortable in making necessary changes before signing.
  • Outline terms of the contract, and goods and services being offered, in as much detail as possible. Any necessary timeframes should be written into the agreement (especially if this is a finite deal with a beginning and ending date), along with the payment schedule. If there are grace periods for payments or penalties for late pays, make sure that is all explained in detail as well.
  • Create a dispute resolution clause. While this may seem unnecessary in the beginning—and especially if you are working with someone you have known for a while—creating a dispute resolution plan is much easier to do while everyone is still getting along! Deciding ahead of time how a dispute would be handled allows you to designate what type of setting you want any issues decided in, whether in court with litigation or a more casual setting in mediation or arbitration. Typically, location is included too, stating which county (or courthouse) the dispute would be settled in, as well as who would pay legal fees.

Creating a good working relationship with a business attorney as soon as you begin setting up the structure of your business can be vital to your success as you make decisions regarding what type of corporation or partnership you want to set up, begin hiring employees and contractors, protecting intellectual property, and more.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

ERISA

ERISA: Understand How It May Affect Your Benefits

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was enacted solely for the protection of employees and all promised to them from their employers regarding employment. Over the years that has expanded to health plans and other benefits too. According to the United States Department of Labor, ERISA currently covers approximately 684,000 retirement plans, 2.4 million health plans, and 2.4 million additional welfare benefit plans—affecting 141 million workers in the US, with over $7.6 trillion in assets.

Just over half of the employees in our country are being offered retirement and/or health benefits as ERISA is meant to work on their behalf in seeing that pension plans and other benefits are handled responsibly by employers and fiduciaries. If you have a retirement plan or other benefits at the company you work for, ERISA protection should affect you positively as those you work for are held to particular standards in terms of making sure that you not only receive what you were promised, but that they also are completely open in allowing you access to your plans and all that is involved within them.

“More than half of America’s workers earn health benefits on the job, and ERISA protects those too, as well as other employee benefits,” states the United States Department of Labor.

Through ERISA, employers are required to make sure employees are apprised of their benefit plans. ERISA administration also makes the rules regarding items such as:

  • Plan participation for employees
  • Vesting details
  • How benefits accumulate
  • Funding procedures

Accountability regarding fiduciaries is also one of the main requirements issued by ERISA – harkening back to the administration’s original mission to make sure companies do not mismanage plans, leaving employees with little to nothing – or even worse, embezzling money that was supposed to be set aside for pensions and more. There are strict penalties if ‘principles of conduct’ are not followed, meaning that they would have to pay back any lost plan funds. Employees are also imbued with the power to sue over such issues, along with the possibility of being paid through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation if a plan is discontinued.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, you may have numerous questions about the complexities of ERISA and how it applies to you. If your benefit plan has been disrupted or denied, you may also need skilled legal advice form a law firm experienced in both insurance law and business law.

Contact the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on your behalf through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

partnership contracts

Partnership Contracts in Business—How to Avoid Disputes Later

Every business is different, but one central theme prevails in all: you cannot do it alone. And while many business owners may be able to create and start up a business by themselves, there is usually a strong team put quickly into place, responsible for a variety of different tasks—from customer service to accounting to human resources. For one reason or another though, you may be founding a new company with one or more partners on board. Many entrepreneurs find this a healthy way to enter the business world, brainstorming and innovating with other like-minded individuals, as well as being able to share responsibilities for startup capital, the workload, and even some of the stress and anxiety involved.

You May Spend A Lot of Time with Your Business Partner

In a partnership, you have one or more business peers to lean on, whether that is financial or not. The relationship can be like a marriage in many cases—and sometimes it may seem like work obligations force you to spend more time with your business partner than you do your spouse. With nearly 30 million small businesses registered in the US today, that makes for a lot of partners—and unfortunately, disputes too. No one likes to see a long-term relationship with someone they have worked with go downhill though, and especially not one that escalates into a nasty court battle.

A Thorough Partnership Contract Could Save You Later

Just as with so many trusting couples who dismiss the idea of prenuptial agreement, partners in the initial glow of the business startup may neglect to create the proper partnership contracts. Getting started on this paperwork while the going is still good is key however. While it may seem awkward at first, setting up all the rules of the partnership at the beginning means you can formulate a plan not only for how you will proceed at the start—but also the end.

The basics should be covered as to which titles each partner will hold, decision-making power, job duties, and how profits will be disbursed. Just as important though are exit strategies discussing what will happen should one or more partners decide to leave—or what will happen to their shares if they die. A dispute resolution clause may prove indispensable later too, giving you the flexibility ahead of time to choose whether any legal issues would be settled through classic litigation processes or alternative dispute resolution instead, such as arbitration or mediation.

Contact Us for Help

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Business strategies

Business Strategies: Figure out Partnership Exits at the Beginning

While some business owners employ many different business strategies and some prefer to fly solo, many others find that their companies thrive with the boost of one or more partners; in fact, if you do have business partners, these could be individuals you have known for many years—and they may have been integral in helping to develop your business model, products, intellectual property, and more. The key to a successful business partnership is much like that of any relationship: communication is key, along with a clear outline of what is expected of everyone.

Speak to your business attorney as soon as possible about having partnership contracts drawn up, defining titles, delegated duties, and information regarding profits and how and when they are to be dispensed. Even more important though is the exit strategy. And although this might seem like a negative thing to be considering from the beginning, the reality is that many partners do go in different directions over time, and it is better to have a plan while everyone is on good terms. This gives stability for the future too, as everyone knows what the plan is should one partner or another wish to depart or sell their shares.

The exit strategy for partners should include establishing the value of the business and then giving one or more partners the right to buy out their shares if that was the agreed upon plan; otherwise, they may want to leave their shares to family members or sell them to individuals from outside the company—a move which could lead to surprising complexities for existing partners who may later wish they had taken the chance to buy out the exiting partner.

Another important quotient in the business partnership contract is a dispute resolution clause. Again, deciding on such details before anyone is angry or suing can lead to a much better outcome later should a dispute arise. Dispute resolution clauses can be extremely detailed, outlining what type of method would be used, whether litigation, arbitration, or mediation. They may also be used to indicate where the resolution would take place, and who would be responsible for paying any attorneys’ fees, should that be an issue.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Business attorney

Why You Need a Good Business Attorney—Sooner Rather Than Later

Before your company came into existence, it’s likely you spent years daydreaming about what it would be like to own a business—whether you brought forth a new concept, product, innovative business model, or helpful service to the community–and hiring a business attorney was probably not on your mind initally. There are so many benefits to business ownership, beginning with the control you have over your daily life as opposed to working for someone else. Along with that, you may have the ability to provide something truly valuable to the public, along with hiring a team and working with business partners who you may form lifelong bonds with over the years. The financial rewards are often better (although those first few years can often be challenging!), and it is an incredible feeling to watch a business you created take off. That is why protecting your hard work with the help of an experienced law firm like the Bolender Law Firm is critical.

While many new businesses do not hire attorneys until they are in the middle of a legal dispute, having legal expertise on your side from the beginning is recommended as you establish the foundation for your business. Whether you are creating a sole proprietorship or a large corporation, your business attorney will help you understand the best route to take, taking your finances and goals into consideration—as well as any tax implications.

Once your business structure is in place, a business attorney should be there for you as you form partnerships, whether they are with business partners who will be working in your company, or outside relationships with vendors and other entities. Legal advice is often necessary as you hire independent contractors also, creating specific agreements and maintaining the proper rights to your intellectual property.

More serious matters will arise over the years inevitably too, and your business will be much more secure if you have already solidified a good working relationship with an attorney you trust. You may be forced to deal with legal disputes from employees or outside sources, as well as handling any other myriad complaints or lawsuits that could be lodged against your company—whether they have merit or not. Unfortunately, dealing with disputes over the years is often the cost of doing business in a dog-eat-dog world. And, coming full circle, your business attorney will be able to assist you not only as you re-work profit allocations with employees or business partners, buy other companies or commercial real estate, but also as you or partners exit the company—or sell out altogether.

If a business dispute cannot be resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will represent you through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business owners

Business Owners: Are You Covered for Workplace Injuries?

No matter what type of business you own, there is always the possibility of an injury in the workplace. While some sites are more prone to one or more of your team having an accident over the years while they work for you—whether you oversee a large construction crew, operate a restaurant, or any other type of company—it is critical that you have sufficient worker’s compensation insurance; and in fact, it is the law in California according to California Labor Code Section 3700.

Many different types of accidents can occur, and employees may be out of work for a range of different time periods—receiving either temporary or even permanent disability. The most common injuries that result in payments from workers’ compensation tend to be strains; for example, employees may pick up boxes or other materials at work that are too heavy and then sprain their backs or other areas such as the arms or wrists. Unfortunately, many of these injuries occur even after so many businesses have instituted their own injury and illness prevention programs as recommended by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Offering the proper education, information, and training to your employees regarding how to avoid injuries on the job can be critical to cutting down on incidents, and also helps promote a stable and safe atmosphere:

“Injury and illness prevention programs are not new, nor are they untested. Most large companies whose safety and health achievements have been recognized through government or industry awards cite their use of injury and illness prevention programs as their key to success,” states the OSHA website. “Convinced of the value, effectiveness, and feasibility of these programs, many countries around the world now require employers to implement and maintain them. These countries include Canada, Australia, all 27 European Union member states, Norway, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. This initiative also follows the lead of 15 U.S. states that have already implemented regulations requiring such programs.”

The OSHA website also points out that “California began to require an injury and illness prevention program in 1991. Five years after this requirement began, California had a net decrease in injuries and illnesses of 19 percent.”

Even with programs available and heightened awareness though, accidents sometimes cannot be avoided—and that is where insurance comes into play (in so many other areas of coverage too for individuals and businesses in the US). Not only does workers’ compensation protect your employees by providing them with medical coverage as well as compensating them for wages, but as they accept it they also give up the right to sue you regarding the injury, making it indispensable coverage all around.

Your insurance agent will be able to inform you of California’s laws and requirements regarding worker’s compensation and you should be able to purchase your coverage through them. It is also available through the State Fund.

If you are having difficulty with workers’ compensation, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!