Need Help With Employment Law?

Many people need advice on employment law when there is an employment issue needing to be resolved such as dismissal and bullying. In these times it is important to locate a firm specialising in this area which can work alongside you, guide you and put in place simple systems and procedures that will allow you to manage tomorrow’s problems.

Employment law requires the employer to provide an employment agreement but it is important for the employer to ensure the employment agreement is tailored to the needs of the business: Any old agreement will not do.

This is an area of law where prevention is better and cheaper than the cure or, to put it another way, it is better to know where you stand before you are standing in it! Personal grievances and claims that the employer unfairly dismissed an employee, failed to investigate a complaint of workplace bullying or stress, or failed to consult the employee about restructuring and the resulting redundancy can be prevented by obtaining good advice on employment law.

If you are a small to medium sized business you are unlikely to have inhouse advice. You need advice from a firm that understands the world of business and the difficulties of running a business. However, lawyers and advocates providing employment law services should be specialists. Your lawyer who has helped you when buying or selling your house or business is a commercial lawyer and not a specialist in employment law.

Some employment law firms act for only employers or employees: Other firms act for both. They have the advantage of knowing better how both employees and employers think when faced not only with the employment relationship problem itself but also the stress of managing it.

A lawyer or advocate specialising in employment law understands how the employment law institutions work: They know about the mediation process, the investigative process of the Employment Relations Authority and hearing process of the Employment Court. They should also know about the costs of using these processes.

Whether you are an employer or employee, when looking for a firm, see if they provide free advice. A free phone consultation allows you to assess not only whether you need further advice but also whether the person on the phone sounds like the person you need. You can also check out their websites to see if they give information through blogs and articles: They are often a good indication of the person that will be representing you.� You want to work with a lawyer or advocate who speaks plainly and can advocate passionately.

Finally, because you will be using your hard-earned money to pay for the services you require, you are entitled to expect the best.

Phil Butler and Associates Ltd is one of Canterbury’s leading employment law advocacy firms. Since 1992 we have been providing advice and representation to employees and employers on employment agreements, employment problems (such as personal grievances, disputes, harassment, redundancy, unfair dismissals & workplace bullying) and the laws governing them.

How to Select an Attorney – Lemon Law Advisor

Have you, a family member, or a friend been tricked into purchasing or leasing a defective vehicle by an auto manufacturer or dealer? If so, you might want to find an expert in attorney lemon law to help you get restitution.

You get what you pay for whenever you seek the advice of a quality professional. But hiring an attorney lemon law adviser shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, since most specialists in this area work on a contingency plan, whereby they do not receive payment until your case is resolved. A quick judgment may be more beneficial to the attorney than it is to you.

You need a counselor who knows the ins and outs of attorney lemon law and has enough experience with actual lemon law cases to do the job well. Your attorney must also be prepared to go to trial if the other party will not settle the case to your satisfaction.

Since your attorney may need to appear at the court in person, choosing one that needs to travel from another state may adversely affect the quality of your representation. Also, since lemon laws vary from state to state, it might be wise to use a lawyer that practices in your state.

Consider these factors as you look for an attorney lemon law adviser:

Do not sign a document, give an interview, or consent to being recorded without understanding the process completely. Take extra caution to consult your attorney before having any contact with the manufacturer or their agent. The reason for this is that your statement could be misrepresented and hurt the outcome of your case.

Keeping records is a good idea no matter who is at fault, even before you choose an attorney lemon law service. Those repair records from authorized dealers and agents can be very valuable should you file a case. Include the name of everyone you spoke with at the dealership and/or the automaker. Also note the dates and details of all of your conversations.

Finally, before you hire an attorney lemon law authority, investigate the lawyer’s qualifications, credentials, and work history, particularly as it relates to cases like yours.

Lexington Law Has a Record of Success

Today it is getting tougher and tougher just to keep up with our bills. Add in credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and other debts, and it can get overwhelming fast. And when that happens, you may run into some trouble every once in awhile. What’s most frustrating is that just getting a few months behind can cost you thousands of dollars due to higher interest rates. Is there any answer out there?

Fortunately, companies such as Lexington Law are able to assist you in straightening out your situation. They have various approaches to repairing your credit and then aiding you in maintaining an improved credit history. The first is consolidation of your various bills. That can frequently result in a lower rate of interest as well as just a single monthly payment to cope with.

You can also receive additional credit repair tips through the Lexington Law service. Lexington Law has an outstanding history of providing their clients unparalleled service. Every step of the process will be explained in detail so that you are not kept in dark, worrying if anything is happening or not. Lexington Law will also explain the ins and outs of the Fair Credit Reporting Act in a manner almost anyone can understand.

It can be terribly embarrassing to have to admit to a stranger that you are having credit problems. I was worried I would be made to feel bad about myself but when I contacted Lexington Law they were very kind and understanding. They kept everything professional and did not make me like a bad person just because I got into a bad situation.

After you’ve gotten help from a credit repair company once, it’s important to stay on top of your bills in the future. After you get everything sorted out, the last thing you want to do is get in more financial trouble and have to go through the same thing all over again. Make sure you also monitor your credit report to make sure it’s carrying accurate information about your financial life.

If you find that you’ve gotten behind financially and are unable to pay your bills, never hesitate to ask for help. After all, you’re far from being the only person in America who is stressed out over insufficient funds. There are professionals out there who can help you get out of the debt you’re in so that you’ll be able to start over with a clean slate.

Process Service In Gated Communities

Gated Communities Are Gaining Popularity

With the increasing concern about security, especially after the 9/11 tragedy, a large portion of Americans are moving towards a more secured residential space. Gated communities or guarded communities are becoming more and more popular. In communities such as this, almost all the day-to-day activities of the residents can be done within the gates or some say within the fortress. In large communities, there can be a grocery store, farmer’s market, athletic and sports facilities, church, parks and other amenities. Surprisingly enough, these communities are not limited to the rich and famous as surveys showed that this mode of living is spreading towards the middle class. Similarly, condominium living is also on the rise. Due to the growing costs of maintaining a home, a large sector of the population is moving towards a stress-free, maintenance-free and protected living.

How To Gain Access To Gated Communities In Order To Serve Legal Processes

This situation however, poses a problem to process servers because a person to be served with a legal document may be living within these guarded walls. Residents are protected from any outside threat but at the same time people with valid business with them are kept out unnecessarily, unless a resident had granted them permission. Process servers therefore need to overcome a layer of security before they can contact the resident to be served.

The California Code of Civil Procedure states that a person may be granted access to a gated community within a reasonable period of time in order to perform a lawful service of process. The process server has to identify himself or herself to the security guard and to show additional proof of his identification. He also has to identify the resident to be served with the legal process. Aside from a valid current identification card or driver’s license, the process server has to show to the security guard on duty, one of the following:

A badge or other confirmation that the individual is acting in his or her capacity as a representative of a county sheriff or marshal; and
Evidence of current registration as a process server

Although the Rules of Procedure provide this guideline to process servers, these are just mere instructions. Security guards of gated communities owe their loyalties to their employers therefore there might be additional rules before a process server can be admitted inside the community.

Attorney Search Engine Optimization for Building Your Law Firm

Attorney search engine optimization provides lawyers with a new level of community awareness through gaining Internet traffic. Attorney SEO is a credible way to market your local business and to build a viable customer base. Learn more about how your website can change your business quickly and affordably.

Attorney search engine optimization assists lawyers in building a strong law firm in their community. Every day many potential clients utilize major search engines such as Yahoo and Google to search for law services provided by your firm. With a properly keyword optimized website you can grab the attention of these potential customers and substantially build your customer base. Today’s modern society provides customers with the ability to search the Internet while on the move through the use of their blackberry, laptop, smart phone, GPS and other electronic devices. Having your website keyword optimized will also provide you with Google optimization that will launch your business into a new level of Internet and community awareness. This is a substantial way to build your Law firm effectively in a shorter period of time than traditional marketing provides.

Marketing your Law practice through Attorney SEO will increase your clientele list within a measurable period of time. You will be able to determine easily how many people are pulling up a Google map to view your business as well as how many have viewed your website. You will begin experiencing a stream of new customers which will result in word-of-mouth advertisement as well; before long your firm will have stepped out of obscurity from amongst a huge crowd of law firms and into the visibility created by ranking on the first page of Google and Yahoo searches. Strategic marketing provided by Attorney SEO experts will move your website ahead of the competition and you will gain a higher rate of conversions from Internet traffic into new clients. Utilizing an expert will ensure that your website is designed with the use of key words that grab the attention of the specific clientele that are searching for your specialty.

Every day thousands of people in your region are searching for a lawyer. You can grab the attention of those who are searching for the services which you provide when your website is properly keyword optimized. For example, Attorney Marlton will connect multiple customers with your contact information and a map as well as to your website. However, they may not all be looking for the exact services which you provide. Your website can be keyword optimized to grab the attention of customers who are searching for your specific service. The use of an expert search engine company is hugely beneficial and highly recommended. The key words may include the name of your community and the type of legal service provided by your establishment. This will provide the community with a new level of awareness concerning your practice. An attorney SEO specialist will provide you with keywords that will directly connect you with the community.

Attorney Internet optimization is a viable way to provide a new level of community awareness and to build your law firm’s customer base. This is also an affordable way to market your firm. You can easily track the success rate achieved through the Internet awareness created. This is extremely effective and affordable for small and medium-sized law firms. Contact an attorney SEO expert today to find out more about having your website keyword optimized and building your community awareness through the use of Internet searches.

Affordable Divorce and Family Law Options For Self Represented Individuals

Many potential clients come into my office in a great panic due to an upcoming court case. The bottom line is they are in a pressing legal need, but they have no money to afford a lawyer. The wife or husband has hired a lawyer and decided to take them to court over some family law issue. Whether the wife now wants full custody of the children or the husband wants to modify spousal support or child support that he is presently paying. These scenarios put many people rightly so in a panicked state because they now are left with the pressing issue of whether to secure legal representation or attempt a go at it alone.

As many self represented individuals are acutely aware, the legal system especially in Santa Clara County is not a friendly place for self represented individuals. There are many technical challenges from filing paperwork properly to navigating correct civil procedure. If there are even the tiniest of mistakes a court paper may be rejected or a worse yet a case may be rejected entirely due to what are seemingly small errors.

The first place, I tell clients to go is their local book store or library. There is a brand of books from Nolo press which can provide excellent information to lay people on how to conduct their own divorce. It is a good launching pad for starting your own divorce. The next step is to go to the local law library, such as the Santa Clara County law library and start delving into the actual legal books. Since a self represented individual is acting as their own lawyer they are held to those exacting standards. The problem with books from the Nolo press are that they are not specific to counties. They are made only state specific. Individual counties have different local rules which must be adhered to.

Many potential clients inform me that they have attempted self representation and it is just too time consuming and difficult to do. When that situation occurs, I always tell potential clients that there are other options available to them. In the California Family Courts we have the option of limited scope family law service or what is also called unbundled services. What this means is that a lawyer can agree to represent a client for a limited portion of their case. Whether that portion be filing a motion, drafting a declaration, explaining court procedure, reviewing their case and giving legal strategy and advice. A limited scope attorney may even appear in court for a client. This flexibility provides the client with avoiding having to pay a full retainer which is can be typically $2,000 – $5,000 for full attorney representation. The client can essentially pay as you go and get representation when they can afford it. The downside with this arrangement is that the lawyer can only represent them for the agreed upon amount of work. Once the work is complete the client is again self represented and is ultimately still responsible for their own case. This process works for those with a good grasp on their case, or those who can not afford a full attorney retainer.

There are other free and modest means options for those seeking low cost San Jose and Santa Clara County Family Law advice. I recommend that clients with no money speak with the Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley, they do on occasion represent clients for free. Mostly the representation is related to domestic violence, but they do take certain family law cases. They also have a huge demand and unfortunately that allows them to be very selective in the cases they will take.

The other option is the Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County who does take family law cases for free. They will take family law cases similar to the selection criteria of the Pro Bono Project of Silicon Valley. Domestic violence cases receive the most representation. There is the Family Law Facilitator’s office in the Santa Clara County court system. They have well regarded attorneys there who can assist those who can not afford any representation at all. They however can not represent you in court and they do not represent any party since their services are available to both parties and it would be a conflict of interest to represent both parties zealously.

Advent of Foreign Law Firms in India

The opening of a legal firm by a Nigerian in Delhi has not only lawyers up in arms against the unauthorized practice but has also revived the decade-and-a-half-old debate over the more important question – should foreign lawyers be allowed entry into India?

It is often asserted that India has the potential to become one of the world’s great legal centers in the 21st century, alongside London and New York. It has innate advantages in its common law traditions and English language capability. But until very recently India had not recognized the role that advisory legal services have to play in attracting foreign investment and developing a broader-based services economy.

India being a signatory to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which is an organ of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is under an obligation to open up the service sector to Member Nations.

“Services” would include any service in any sector except services supplied in the exercise of governmental authorities as defined in GATS. “A service supplied in the exercise of governmental authorities” is also defined to mean any service that is supplied neither on a commercial basis nor in competition with one or more service suppliers.

Legal profession is also taken to be one of the services which is included in GATS. With the liberalization and globalization policy followed in India, multinationals and foreign corporations are increasingly entering India. Foreign financial institutions and business concerns are also entering India in a fairly large number. Their business transactions in India are obviously governed by the Indian law and the foreign law firms (FLF’s) and foreign legal consultants (FLC’s) being not fully conversant with the Indian legislation require the assistance of lawyers enrolled and practicing in India. This has led to the idea of entry of foreign legal consultants and liberalization of legal practices in India in keeping with the guidelines evolved by the International Bar Association (IBA) and the GATS. If this idea is to be put into practice, the Advocates Act, 1961 which governs legal practice in India needs to be amended.

Legal “practice” is not defined in the Advocates Act but a reading of Sections 30 and 33 indicates that practice is limited to appearance before any court, tribunal or authority. It does not include legal advice, documentation, alternative methods of resolving disputes and such other services. Section 24 (i)(a) of the Act provides that a person shall be qualified to be admitted as an Advocate on the State Roll if he is a citizen of India provided that subject to this Act a national of any other country may be admitted as an Advocate on the State Roll if the citizens of India duly qualified are permitted to practice law in that other country.

Section 47 of the Act provides that where a country specified by the Central Govt. in this behalf by a notification in the Official Gazette prevents the citizens of India from practicing the profession of law subjects them to unfair discrimination in that country, no subject of any such country shall be entitled to practice that profession of law in India.

The basic principles set out by IBA on the question of validity of FLC’s are fairness, uniform and non-discriminatory treatment, clarity and transparency, professional responsibility, reality and flexibility. The guidelines laid down by the IBA are as follows:

“Legal consultant means a person qualified to practice law in a country (home country) and who desires to be licensed to practice law as a legal consultant without being examined by a body or an authority to regulate the legal profession in a country (host country) other than a home country, such a person has to apply to the host authority for a license by following the procedure for obtaining a license subject to the reasonable conditions imposed by the host authority on the issue of licenses. This license requires renewal. A legal consultant has to submit an undertaking alongwith his application not to accept, hold, transfer, deal with a client found or assigned unless the legal consultant does so in a manner authorized by the host authority to agree and abide by the code of ethics applicable to host jurisdiction besides to abide by all the rules and regulations of both the home and host jurisdiction.

It is open to the host authority to impose the requirement of reciprocity and to impose reasonable restrictions on the practice of FLC’s in the host country, that the FLC’s may not appear as an attorney or plead in any court or tribunal in the host country and the FLC’s may not prepare any documents or instruments whose preparation or performance of other services, is specifically reserved by the host authority for performance by its local members.

Many experts have given their views on entry of FLF’s and FLC’s in India pursuant to GATS. They are not opposed to the idea but it is suggested by them that some restrictions, adequate safeguards and qualifications should be provided for besides reciprocity.

The restrictions, if any, will have to be reasonable. Obtaining Indian law degree and practicing Indian law for a period to be stipulated for entry may be the only reasonable restrictions. Canadian model of University training, examination and articleship administered through a joint committee accreditation may be a viable solution. To follow the principle of non-discrimination, it may not be possible to impose any onerous restriction limiting the clientele, the nature of legal work, the fees to be marked, the form of fees (Rupees or foreign currency) etc. So far as reciprocity is concerned level playing field and uniform code of conduct will have to be worked out. Many western nations allow their lawyers to advertise whereas in India the lawyers are not allowed to do so. In California the FLF’s were only permitted to deal in laws not specific to California. Even in countries like Singapore, Hong-Kong and Japan the FLC’s are restricted to servicing only foreign firms. The treatment meted out to FLC’s and FLF’s in other countries and the rules, regulations made to govern their practice in the foreign country should be thoroughly scrutinized before allowing the entry in India.

Even if reciprocity were allowed, no Indian firm would go abroad to conduct legal business not because it has no talent, competency or efficiency but economically it would not be a viable proposition. The Indian lawyers have no resources to set up an establishment in a foreign country nor will the Indian Government render any assistance to them to promote their business in a foreign country. Even the large population of non-resident Indians would not desire to patronize the Indian lawyers even though they may be experts in their own field because the resident lawyers having full knowledge of the law of the country would be available to them at reasonable price because for the legal experts from India apart from the fees charged for the legal consultancy/service they may have to spend on their traveling expense also. The legal service by calling Indian experts would be very expensive for the non-resident Indians and they may not get full effective service since the Indian legal consultants may not be very conversant with the laws applicable there. It is only if any Indian party is concerned in a dispute and the question relates also to Indian law that Indian legal Consultant would be invited to a foreign country and not otherwise. Such occasions will be rare. The picture is different in case of foreign firms who do business across national borders, due to globalization. They demand foreign lawyers since they like to rely on the services of professionals in their own country who are already familiar with the firm’s business. If the foreign firms carrying on business in India require advice here on home country law, that can be made available to them by the Indian law firms or the Indian legal consultants. They can also prepare the legal documentation or provide the advisory service for corporate restructuring, mergers, acquisitions, intellectual property rights or financial instruments required by the foreign firms. These aspects will have to be seriously considered while considering the principle of reciprocity. Reciprocity should therefore be clearly defined and must be effective. It should be ensured that the rules and/or regulations laid down should be strictly complied with otherwise as is the experience, the rules remain on paper and what is practiced is totally different. The authorities either do not pay any heed to the violations or they overlook or ignore it as in the case of the Foreign law firms in India in the Enron deal, the permissions for such law firms to set up liaison offices came from the RBI which reports directly to the Finance Ministry. When these law firms violated the very conditions of being liaison offices the RBI overlooked or ignored it.

Some are of the view that instead of being perceived as a threat to lawyers, this should be seen as a move to raising standards within the profession but with reciprocal arrangements. The legal profession as it was practiced years before by the legal stalwarts did have a very high standard. However, today that standard of profession is nowhere to be seen or experienced. Legal profession has also become totally commercialized with no human or moral values. The standard has gone down considerably. However, the fees charged have tremendously increased, disproportionately to the service rendered to the clients. No effort is being made in any corner to set the wrong or malpractices which have crept in in the legal profession. On this background, what would be the “raised standards”? If at all the standards are raised, would the entire class of legal practitioners in India benefit or will it be only a small section of the legal practitioners who would be able to take advantage of the new situation? In that case, can this move be said to be in the interest of the legal practitioners? The situation so far as the FLC’s are concerned would be completely different since all the FLC’s who aspire to come to India will get equal treatment whereas the Indian legal practitioners would be deprived of equality in profession. Besides the FLC’s will have foreign clients and even though they are allowed to practice in India with a reasonable restriction of obtaining law degree in India, for some time definitely they will need Indian lawyers to get their work done. With the resources at their end and with the higher exchange rate in currency, they will be able to hire and retain young lawyers with substantial pay packages, though as compared to their fees in their country it would be much lower, with the result that good reputed Attorney’s/Solicitor’s Firms in India would lose their good hands and their work may suffer. Law Firms in U.S.A have funds equal to the annual budget of the State of Maharashtra. With such resources, in a short time, such FLF’s would do away with the existing law firms in India. On this background would our law firms withstand the competition and the quality of service, is an important question to be examined.

The U.S and some other advanced countries have large law firms operating on International scales which are primarily business organizations designed to promote commercial interest of their giant client corporations. The size, power, influence and economical standards of these large international law firms would definitely affect the legal system of our country adversely. We cannot match howsoever far we may stretch it, their size, power and most importantly economical standard. There is a limitation here on the number of partners in an Attorney’s/Solicitor’s firm. The number is restricted to 20 under the Partnership Act, which restriction is non-existent in a foreign law firm. To bring uniformity this limitation will have to be removed allowing for more partners, increasing of funding and manpower.

Moreover the FLF’s have “single window services” meaning services which not only include legal but also accountancy, management, financial and other advice to their clients. The multidisciplinary partnerships will cater to the needs of the clients in the above-mentioned different fields. Such partnerships may endanger the ethics of the legal profession as confidential information may be passed out within the partnership to the non-lawyer professionals. This would prejudicially affect not only the clients but also the lawyers since the independence of the lawyers would be compromised. Once the FLF’s and FLC’s are allowed entry into India the Bar Council of India will have to make rules and regulations also for such multidisciplinary partnerships or single window services. The multidisciplinary partnerships may look attractive but the crucial question is whether the quality of services and accountability of systems can be maintained? The code of ethics needs review to bring international legal practice under its purview.

The Foreign law firms may seek license for full and regular legal practice like that of Indian lawyers or they may come for a limited practice of consultancy for foreign partners on home country laws. Accordingly the rules and regulations will have to be framed to meet both these situations. The FLF’s who intend to come for regular legal practice may have to be subjected to immigration and citizenship laws. Those who seek limited practice may enter into partnerships with the home country law firms without any scrutiny from the organized legal profession. It is therefore necessary that a transparent, fair and accountable system be evolved to regulate and control the internationalization of legal practice.

With the globalization and liberalization policy not only foreign businessmen have come to India for investment but even the foreign goods and products such as agricultural products and other goods have entered the Indian market. The Indian goods and products have to face a tough competition with these foreign products which are cheaper though may not be better in quality. The result is that the Indian agriculturists and merchants are seriously prejudiced in their business. We also have the example of Enron which was in news where the Indian law was modified without probably realizing the adverse effect it would have on the electrical companies in the State. The agreements signed with Enron do not appear to be in the interest of the State or the Nation. However, such matters are thought of only later and not when the actual action is taken. With the present experience, it is felt that we should not be carried away with the idea of raising our standards or of being on par with the other developed countries where the guideline of reciprocity may be followed and the FLC’s and FLF’s would be allowed to enter the country. We have to be very alert and watchful and think well in advance to do away with any lacunas or loopholes in the rules and regulations that may be introduced to safeguard the interest of the lawyers in our country.
One more point which may need consideration is about the countries who would be interested in India. Would these countries be the members of the World Trade Organization or would even the non-member countries be allowed to enter India? If the entry is restricted to only the members of the WTO and if any non-member country desires to enter India, would the entry be denied merely on the ground that it is not the member of the WTO or whether the non-member would be allowed entry to show our fairness and equality of treatment? Thus many countries may be interested in coming to India due to the liberalization; globalization and privatization policy followed in India but the chances of the Indian firms going out of India to enter any foreign country would be remote. The principle of reciprocity may be introduced on paper but may not be effectively followed.

It may be mentioned here that the “Lawyer’s Collective” has filed a public interest litigation before the Mumbai High Court questioning the phrase “practice the profession of law” under section 29 of the Advocates Act. The respondents in their petition include some of the FLF’s which had set up their own liaison offices in India. It is needless to point out that all the above points may be discussed and examined in the above petition, the result of which is awaited.

The Indian legal profession has, in recent years, undergone a significant change, emerging as highly competitive and ready to move along with the ongoing wave of globalization. The interest of foreign law firms to open shop in India therefore is hardly surprising, since India offers a full range of legal services, of comparable quality, at literally a fraction of the price that would otherwise have to be paid. The rather conservative and if one may use the word, “protectionist” stand of the Bar Council of India on the matter has, however, prohibited foreign law firms from operating in India. A number of the more established ones, perhaps unable to resist the immense potential of the Indian legal markets, and in anticipation of the “globalization of legal services” under the aegis of the WTO, are slowly (and quite discreetly) establishing their presence in India, this in a considerable number of cases taking the form of their entering into associations with Indian firms, and in the process, literally operating in India indirectly, despite the prohibitions against the same. An issue that has therefore started to attract the attention of not simply Indian lawyers, but also law school grads, is the likely consequences of the entry of foreign firms in India. Shall this help an already growing Indian legal market, or shall it only mean a job loss for Indian law grads?

The fact remains that India is in the process of globalizing its economy. In the process, the legal market opening up to competition from the international legal market is rather inevitable. Instead of deliberating about the advantages and disadvantages of the legal markets being opened up to foreign firms, it is perhaps more sensible to accept that the entry of foreign firms in India is only a matter of time. However, this should not mean that their operations should nor be regulated, since otherwise they may just push out the Indian firms. For law school grads, their presence in India could well translate into an increasing range of job opportunities, apart from their presence in India significantly influencing the way in which the Indian legal market evolves in the 21st century.

Online Incorporation and LLC Formation Services – Advantages and Disadvantages, Pros and Cons

Online incorporation services tout easy, fast, and cheap online incorporation and limited liability company (LLC) formation services. Examples include LegalZoom.com, MyCorporation.com, and IncorporateTime.com. Storefront and virtual paralegal services such as We the People and those found in the legal services section of your local craigslist also offer similar services. Their web sites and radio and TV sales pitches indicate that forming a corporation or LLC is as quick, easy, and inexpensive as filling out an online questionnaire and paying a fee of $100-150 for the completion of the paperwork and the filing of the documents with the secretary of state (plus the filing fees charged by the state). This article reviews the advantages and disadvantages of these services overall – for specific reviews of a particular provider, you should look elsewhere (and preferably to those with direct experience using the service, as well as at least a year of business operations thereafter).

No legal advice

In the fine print, many document preparation services state they are not law firms, cannot provide legal advice, and recommend that you consult an attorney for legal advice. Here’s a word for word example from one web site: “This site is not a substitute for legal counsel…. You should consult legal counsel to determine applicable law for your situation.” And from another: “[Our document preparation service] is not a substitute for an attorney or law firm.” Only licensed attorneys can practice law and provide legal advice to clients, so these firms are wisely protecting themselves by making it clear that they are not in the business of providing legal advice; they are in the business of preparing whatever forms or filing you tell them to. Thus, the computer programmer’s old adage, Garbage In, Garbage Out, applies. If you tell them to form a Nevada LLC, when you really need a California S corporation, they will in all likelihood produce a technically sufficient LLC, but it won’t meet your actual business legal needs. Likewise, if you choose not to elect S-corporation status, and end up paying higher taxes as a C-corporation, this is not their fault; they are counting on you to know what you need, or to have consulted a lawyer and/or tax accountant before coming to them.

Many incorporation services would apparently seem to remedy this situation with lengthy FAQs and learning centers, but, frankly, a few minutes or even a few hours of research is not a substitute for a lawyer’s college degree, three years of law school, and additional on-the-job training and annual continuing legal education. Any paralegal or incorporation service whose employees do provide legal advice is engaged in the unethical practice of law without a license, a crime in most jurisdictions, and their legal advice, for more reasons than one, should be taken with a grain of salt. Better yet, terminate your relationship with any such person immediately.

The other ‘remedy’ is to portray incorporation as a one size fits all, cookie cutter purchase, rather than explaining the reality that can be summed up the quote sometimes heard in law school, “The general rule applies to no one in particular.” In other words, your circumstances and needs are not those of your friends, neighbors, or other online entity formation customers.

Other Legal Issues

Attorneys will focus not just on forming an entity you have ordered them to, but in taking a step back, assessing your overall business plan and goals, and making sure the legal structure takes into account your particular circumstances, rather than assuming you and your business are exactly the same as the next guy and his business. They will also at least point out, and suggest options for best addressing, legal issues that arise tangentially to forming a corporation or LLC. Such issues that the average incorporation service customer may be blissfully unaware of include securities laws compliance, promissory notes, trademark and service mark issues, and employee and independent contractor law. (Tax issues are also inherent in incorporating, so working with a CPA or accountant is something I always recommend to clients before and after incorporating.) Agreements typical of new corporations or existing business which are growing and have decided to incorporate include employment agreements, independent contractor agreements, supplier agreements, web site terms of use and privacy policies, and shareholder buy-sell agreements. All of these should be customized to your needs, not fill in the blank forms, just as corporate bylaws and LLC operating agreements should be customized, not one size fits all.

Lack of Follow-Through

A good business attorney will also assist you in following through in the formation of your corporation or LLC. By this I mean making sure the meeting minutes are appropriately customized to your needs and the corp. or LLC’s formation documents are actually completed, signed, shares are actually issued to shareholders, and appropriate federal, state, and local filings are made. After having reviewed numerous incorporation service companies, usually a year or more later after problems have arisen, but also often times in the course of transactions such as sale of the business or part of it to a new shareholder, member, or partner, I have yet to see a company that was correctly set up. I can say the same of do-it-yourself incorporations, where the owner(s) didn’t hire anyone and did it themselves. In most cases, the articles of incorporation (for LLCs, the articles of organization) have been completed and filed in an adequate, if not optimal, manner, and the bylaws or operating agreement is likewise present. However, such documents are generally never executed – they just sit on the shelf in a binder, as they have since they were mailed out by the incorporation service, and thus without any force or effect whatsoever. Frequently, they contain numerous blanks that the owner was supposed to fill in, but didn’t because they didn’t know how to, or just never got around to it.

These defects are not the fault of the incorporation service per se, but they are indicative of the different level of service provided by such companies, in comparison to an attorney. Such lack of completion can and does lead to problem later, however, because the company’s limited liability status and good standing with the state can be jeopardized by missing or incomplete corporate documents, or by failure to create annual minuets and file initial and annual state level filings. Difficulties also occur when disputes among partners or co-owners later arise, and upon review of the bylaws or operating agreement, the parties find that the documents were never signed (and thus may not control), that they lack buyout procedures, or that they are vague or silent on how to handle disputes. It goes without saying that most of these disputes are much more costly to resolve later, once the proverbial horse of improper documentation and agreements has left the barn.

Hidden fees

The main benefit of incorporation services is costs savings; they charge less than attorneys do. However, the actual fees charged by incorporation services often ends up being as much as two or three times higher as they low rates they advertise, once such “add-ons” (which in many cases are needed to achieve your legal aims) as name reservations, corporate minute books, expedited or rush service, EIN numbers, S-corp election, first meeting minutes, and initial statement of information, sales tax reseller’s permit, business license, or other state or federal filings are made. So be sure to check what a complete package costs in making comparison amongst various providers and versus law firm fees. Some services I’ve seen on craigslist.org offer rates so low, they do not even account for the minimum level of costs that must be expended to properly set up a company! (E.g., $125 including costs for a California incorporation – the government fees alone are at least this high, let alone any third party service fee.) In many but not all instances, law firms offering flat fee incorporations do not have hidden fees.

In any case, the important consideration here is that incorporation service prices cannot and do not include legal advice on the incorporation process or related legal issues, hand-holding, referrals to other professionals such as accountants and insurance agents, or follow-through to ensure that the business entity is actually implemented correctly. Upon seeing all the work that goes into an incorporation or LLC organization, the most common remark from my clients is not, ‘That was easy; I should have used an incorporation service, saved your legal fees, and done it myself.’ Rather, it is, ‘I can’t believe some people try to do all this themselves!’ You should keep in mind the difference in the level or services provided when evaluating price, be on the lookout for hidden or additional fees beyond the base rate, and realize that if you are choose to select an attorney over an incorporation service, you are paying not only for that attorney’s time and end work product, but also his education, experience, skill, and legal advice and counsel for your business.

Relationship with a lawyer

In deciding to go it alone, you should keep in mind that sooner or later, if your business grows, you will need a business attorney. It may be more prudent to establish that relationship now via an incorporation and set yourself up for future growth and success, rather than wait until a legal emergency arises, only to find you don’t know any attorneys, or that the attorney you do retain finds that there are numerous steps you could have taken in the past to avoid current fees, taxes, problems, and disputes.

The fact that these problems don’t become apparent until months or years after the company’s formation (especially if professionals such as attorneys and accountants are never hired and thereby given the opportunity to review the company and spot issues) means that many customers of incorporation services are initially well pleased with the service they have received. If you don’t know what you didn’t get, you have no reason to be unhappy about; instead focusing on the money saved now.

In my experience, rarely does money saved on legal services now pay off in long-term savings. More often, it’s the old, pay now, or pay (more) later situation. Some errors, such as choice of entity decisions that were not tax favorable, cannot be undone, they can only be changed going forward. Likewise, after a shareholder or partnership dispute has arisen, it’s usually too late for proper buy-sell provisions in the bylaws or operating agreement, a separate buy sell agreement, or an arbitration clause. If you don’t have enough money to afford an attorney at the outset, perhaps you and your partners should consider committing additional funds to the enterprise, utilizing loans or credit cards to access additional funds, or wait until more financing can be accumulated or obtained, before proceeding in a less than optimal way. Most entrepreneurs are convinced of the future growth and profit prospects of their companies; thus, it is surprising they often don’t follow in the footsteps of other successful enterprises and allocate appropriate funds for legal services. The adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail” applies here.

A good business attorney will also be able to provide referrals to reliable accountants, insurance agents, and others services new businesses are likely to need.

Volume business

Incorporating services are sometimes called incorporation mills. By their very nature, they are in a volume business; they cannot charge low prices and provide personalized attention or service. In general, they make their profits by selling a non-customized or a minimally customized product over and over to as many customers as possible. Law firms, on the other hand, provide customized legal advice and services to each client on an individual basis. Law firms can handle unusual capital, profit, loss, or other allocation issues that fully and correctly utilize corporations and LLCs, and advise when such use is appropriate and when it is not. Incorporation mills will, for the most part, sell you whatever you ask for; it’s your responsibility to determine whether you are ordering the right product from them.

But aren’t you, as a California incorporation lawyer, biased?

That’s certainly a legitimate question, and I obviously have a strong opinion on the matters discussed. It’s up to you to take to heart or disregard the opinions and advice in this article, but I would answer it this way: Because I am a business attorney, I have seen the result of using these services in a way most lay people would not, and as a result cannot recommend that most people use an incorporation service. And although incorporation legal services is part of my business law practice, I would encourage most readers to use an attorney of their choosing, in their state – it need not be me and obviously I don’t benefit from you using another attorney any more than I benefit from you using an incorporation service. In fact, incorporation services are probably in the long run good for my practice; they provide a steady stream of repair work and dispute resolution for me, that typically cost $1000s more than my flat fee incorporation services.

Summary and Conclusion

In short, comparing incorporation services to a business lawyer is an apples to oranges comparison. One option provides more services and costs more; one provides less and costs less. Neither is a “rip-off” or the definitive solution for everyone. You are more likely to get things right by choosing either than choosing neither and going it alone. The lawyer is licensed by the state to provide legal advice, is subject to numerous ethical rules, forms an attorney-client relationship with his clients, and keeps up to date on changes in the law through mandatory continuing legal education. The incorporation service simply executes on your instructions, no advice, no hand-holding, no legal review of your situation or legal needs. If your instructions do not comport with what’s best for your situation, then your result will be less than optimal.

There may be a small group of people who know what they need, and how to do it, but just lack the time, and who are thus well served by incorporation services. (Ironically, most of these people probably realize the value of an attorney’s input and would generally hire one to take care of their legal needs, while spending their own time on what they do best, improving their business. This explains why I have business entity formation clients who are attorneys and law firms!). Or who have been advised by their accountant to form a particular type of simple entity (simple being defined as an entity to be formed in their home state jurisdiction and with only one owner). But, in my opinion, the vast majority of potential incorporation service customers would be better served by investing an additional $500 or so to have their entity selected, formed, and set up correctly, with all of their questions answered along the way, with due attention to related legal issues, and to establish a relationship with an attorney for ongoing or future legal services.

Jonas M. Grant is a Los Angeles, California business attorney and the owner of his own law practice, the Law Office of Jonas M. Grant, P.C. He obtained his law degree from Indiana University School of Law – Bloomington; his MBA in finance from Indiana University’s Kelley Graduate School of Business; and his BA from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.

The New Lagos Tenancy Law: Who Does It Favor Most, The Landlord or the Tenant?

For a law to regulate rights and obligations under tenancy agreements and the relationship between the Landlord and the tenant including the procedure for the recovery of premises and for other connected purposes in Lagos State.

The Lagos State House of Assembly enacts as follows:

General Application
1. Application of Law
2. (1) This Law shall apply to all premises within Lagos State, including business and residential premises unless otherwise specified
(2) This Law shall not apply to:
(a) residential premises owned or operated by an educational institution for its staff and students;
(b) residential premises provided for emergency shelter;
(c ) Residential premises
(i) in a care or hospice facility;
(ii) in a public or private hospital or a mental health facility; and
(d) that is made available in the course of providing rehabilitative or therapeutic treatment.

2. Jurisdiction of the Courts
(1) A Court shall have jurisdiction on application made to it by a landlord or tenant or any interested person to determine matters in respect of the tenancy of any premises let before or after the commencement of this Law.
(2) The jurisdiction of a Court shall not be ousted by the defendant or respondent setting up the title of any other party.
(3) Proceedings may be brought under this Law at the High Court or at the Magistrates Court in the division or the Magisterial District in which the subject matter giving rise to the proceedings is located.
(4) Subject to the provision of this Law, a Court shall be bound by the practice and procedure in civil matters in the Magistrates Court or the High Court of Lagos State.

3. Tenancy Agreement
For the purposes of this Law, a tenancy agreement shall be deemed to exist where premises are granted by the landlord to a person for value whether or not it is
(a) express or implied;
(b) oral or in writing or partly oral or partly written; or
(c) for a fixed period.

4. Advance Rent
(1) It shall be unlawful for a landlord or his agent to demand or receive from a sitting tenant rent in excess of three (3) months in respect of any premises.
(2) It shall be unlawful for a sitting tenant to offer or pay rent in excess of three (3) months in respect of any premises.
(3) Any person who receives or pay rent in excess of what is prescribed in this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000.00) or to three (3) months imprisonment or any other non-custodial disposition.

5. Rent payment receipt
(1) As from the commencement of this Law, all landlords of premises shall upon payment of rent by the tenants, be obliged to issue a rent payment receipt to their tenants in respect of such payments.
(2) The receipt shall state the
(a) Date of which rent was received;
(b) Name of the landlord and the tenant;
(c) Location of premises in respect of which the rent is paid
(d) Amount of rent paid; and
(e) Period to which the payment relates.
(4) Any landlord who fails to issue a rent payment receipt to his tenant as prescribed under this Section, shall be liable to a fine of ten thousand Naira (N10,000.00) payable to the Court.

RIGHTS AND OBLICATIONS OF LANDLORD AND TENANT

6. Rights of the parties
(1) The tenants entitlement to quiet and peaceable enjoyment includes the right to:
(a) reasonable privacy;
(b) freedom from unreasonable disturbance;
(c) Exclusive possession of the premises, subject to the landlords restricted right of inspection and
(d) the use of common areas for reasonable and lawful purposes.
(2) Where a tenant with the previous consent in writing of the landlord, effects improvements on the premises and the landlord determines the tenancy, such a tenancy shall be entitled to claim compensation for the effect improvements on quitting the premises.

6. Obligations of the Tenant
Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, the tenant shall be obliged to do the following:
(1) Pay the rents at the times and in the manner stated.
(2) Pay all existing and future rates and charges not applicable to the landlord by law.
(3) Keep the premises in good and tenantable repair, reasonable wear and tear excepted.
(4) Permit the landlord and his agents during the tenancy at all reasonable hours in the day time by written notice, to view the condition of the premises and to effect repairs in necessary parts of the building.
(5) Not to make any alterations or additions to the premises without the written consent of the landlord.
(6) Not to assign or sublet any part of the premises without the written consent of the landlord.
(7) Notify the landlord where structural or substantial damage has occurred to any part of the premises as soon as practicable.

7. Obligations of the Landlord

8. Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, the landlord shall be obliged to do the following:
(1) Not to disturb the tenants quiet and peaceable enjoyment of the premises.
(2) Pay all rates and charges as stipulated by law.
(3) Keep the premises insured against loss or damage.
(4) Not to terminate or restrict a common facility or service for the use of the premises.
(5) Not to seize or interfere with the tenants access to his personal property.
(6) Effect repairs and maintain the external and common parts of the premises.

9. Obligations of landlord regarding business premises only
Subject to any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties, a business premises agreement shall be taken to provide that where the landlord
(a) inhibits the access of the tenant to the premises in any substantial manner;
(b) takes any action that would substantially alter or inhibit the flow of the customers, clients or other persons using the tenants business premises;
(c) causes or fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent or remove any disruption to trading or use within the business premises which results in loss of profits to the tenant;
(d) fails to have rectify as soon as practicable, any breakdown of plant or equipment under his care and maintenance which results in loss of profits to the tenant; or
(e) fails to maintain or repaint the exterior or the common parts of the building or buildings of which the premises is comprised and after being given notice in writing by the tenant requiring him to rectify the matter, does not do so within such time as is reasonably practicable, the landlord, is liable to pay to the tenant such reasonable compensation as shall be determined by the Court, where the tenant effects the repairs or maintenance.

10. Service Charge, Facilities and Security Deposits
In any case where the landlord or his agent may in addition to rent require the tenant or licensee to pay:
(a) a security deposit to cover damage and repairs to the premises;
(b) for services and facilities for the premises; or
(c) service charges in flats or units that retain common parts on the premises, the landlord or his agent shall issue a separate receipt to the tenant for payments received the such tenant shall be entitled to a written account at least every six (6) months from the landlord of how moneys paid were disbursed.

11. Provision for re-entry
Subject to
(a) any provision to the contrary in the agreement between the parties; and
(b) the service of process in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Law, upon the breach or non-observance of any of the conditions or covenants in respect of the premises, the landlord shall have the right to institute proceedings for an order to re-enter and determine the tenancy.

12. Length of Notice
(1) Where there is no stipulation as to the notice to be given by either party to determine the tenancy, the following shall apply
(a) a weeks notice for a tenant at will;
(b) one (1) months notice for a monthly tenant;
(c ) three (3) months notice for a quarterly tenant;
(d) three (3) months notice for a half-yearly tenant; and
(e) six (6) months notice for a yearly tenant.
(2) In the case of monthly tenant, where he is in arrears of rent for three (3) months, the tenancy shall be determined and the Court shall make an order for possession and arrears of rent upon proof of the arrears by the landlord.
(3) In the case of a quarterly or half-yearly tenant, where he is in arrears of rent for six (6) months, the tenancy shall be determined and the Court shall make an order for possession and arrears of rent upon proof of the arrears by the landlord.
(4) Notice of tenants under subsection (1) ( ), (d) and (e) of this Section need not terminate on the anniversary of the tenancy but may terminate on or after the date of expiration of the tenancy.
(5) In the case of a tenancy for a fixed term, no notice to quit shall be required once the tenancy has been determined by effluxion of time and where the landlord intends to proceed to Court to recover possession, he shall serve a seven (7) days written notice of his intention to apply to recover possession as in Form TL4 in the Schedule of this Law.
(6) The nature of a tenancy shall, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, be determined by reference to the time when the rent is paid or demanded.

13. Notice to Licensee
Where a person is a licensee and upon the expiration or withdrawal of his license, he refuses or neglects to give up possession he shall be entitled to service of a seven (7) days notice of the owners intention to apply to recover possession as in Form TL4 in the Schedule to this Law.

14. Notice required for abandoned premises
(1) A premises will be deemed to be abandoned where the
(a) tenancy has expired; and
(b) tenant has not occupied the premises since the tenancy expired and has not given up lawful possession of the premises.
(2) Following subsection (1) above, the landlord shall
(a) issue a seven (7) days notice of the landlords intention to recover possession as prescribed in Form TL4, which shall be served by pasting the notice on the abandoned premises; and
(b) apply to the court for an order for possession and an order to force open the premises.

15. Tenant refusing or neglecting to give up possession
As soon as the term or interest of any premises has been determined by a written notice to quit as in Form TL2 or TL3, in the Schedule this his Law and the tenant neglects or refuses to quit and deliver up possession of the premises or any part of it, the Landlord or his agent may cause the tenant to be served with written notice as in Form TL4, signed by the Landlord or his agent, of the landlords intention to proceed to recover possession, stating the grounds and particulars of the claim, on a date not less than seven (7) days from the date of the notice.

16. Service of Notices
(1) Notices referred to under Sections 12-15 of this Law shall be by proper service as prescribed under Section 17 and 18.
(2) Proper service shall be service in such a manner that it can be established to the satisfaction of the court that the person to be served will have knowledge of any of the notices.

17. Service of Notices for Residential Premises
Proper service on a tenant of residential premises shall be personal service, which includes but is not limited to the following
(a) service on the tenant in person
(b) delivery to any adult residing at the premises to be recovered
(c) by courier where the tenant cannot be found, by delivering same at the premises sought to be recovered and the courier shall provide proof of delivery; or
(d) affixing the notice on a prominent part of the premises to be recovered and providing corroborative proof of service.

18. Service of Notices for Business Premises
Proper service on a tenant of a business premises shall be by
(a) delivery to a person at the business premises sought to be recovered; or
(b) affixing the notice on a prominent part of the premises to be recovered and providing corroborative proof of service.

19. Duty to notify other persons in occupation
Where the tenant is a person other than an individual (including a corporate entity), the landlord shall ensure proper service of all notices required under this Law on the tenant:
Provided that the failure of the tenant to notify any other person in occupation shall not affect the proceedings to recover possession.

20. Persons in unlawful occupation
Where a person claims possession of premises which he alleges is occupied solely by a person in unlawful occupation, the proceedings for recovery of the premises shall be by the summary procedure contained in the Civil Procedure Rules of the relevant court.

29. Arbitration

(1) A valid agreement to arbitrate shall be upheld and shall be enforceable in the Court and an arbitration clause or agreement in a tenancy or lease agreement shall not be construed as an ouster of the courts jurisdiction.

(2) In the absence of any agreement to the contrary or where the parties cannot agree on the appointment of an arbitrator or tribunal, the Court on receipt of a written application by any of the parties, shall act as the appointing authority, upon payment of the prescribed fees.

Florida Law Firm Website Ruling

FLORIDA LAW FIRM PROPOSED WEB SITE RULES SPARK ARGUMENTS FROM FLORIDA LAW FIRMS

Reported by an article inside the Florida Bar news, Eight major law firms “protested the recently proposed Supreme Court rules for web advertising from a 66-page comment into the court submitted just before the August 16 deadline.”

The firms that complained incorporated Foley & Lardner, White & Case, Holland & Knight, and Carlton Fields. Many attorneys dislike the anticipated rules, because they’d limit a law site from having online testimonials, case summaries, and certain audio and visual content.

The Florida Bar News says that these guidelines could involve entire overhauls of some firm internet sites and re-programming of others, updates that law firms alleged might cost millions of dollars for larger establishments.

Annotations were also submitted by other Florida lawyers plus the American Civil Liberties Union. One Florida lawyer said the projected rules were being too lenient. Some dispute that Florida residents surfing the internet and looking for lawful information from Florida lawyers will be drawn to the more attractive and easy to get to web pages offered by the non-Florida attorney sites, bypassing the very firms that the Bar regulates.

Website rule poses First Amendment considerations and can be a tricky issue in the Florida Bar. Following an intensive study from the Florida Bar on lawyers’ internet sites, the Florida Bar suggested towards the court that the home page of Florida law firm web sites be subject to any or all advertising rules, knowing that the remainder of Florida lawyer websites be subject with the substantive marketing rules with definite three exceptions.

Rule 4-7.6 was submitted through the Florida Bar with the Florida Supreme Court in June in the direction with the court after the court issued an order stating that all the substantive lawyer advertising rules shall be applicable to Florida Law websites. The court’s order means that lawyers online resources cannot use past results, testimonials, and statements that characterize the quality of legal services. The proposed amendments would allow testimonials, past results, and other information in separate sections on Florida law firm websites.

The Florida Supreme court abandoned that approach and ruled that Florida attorneys internet websites are subject to the overall marketing rules contained in Bar Rule 4-7.2. Rule 4-7.2 prohibits Florida Lawyers from using testimonials, concerning past consequences, or characterizing the quality of their lawful services, which can be often accessible on Florida law firm blogs.