Supplementary Materials

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In-depth practice area pages:

Personal Injury

Supplementary materials: Personal injury

Overview
Personal injury is an “umbrella” practice area that includes all manner of accidents, medical malpractice, products/premises liability, wrongful death and related matters involving injuries (one of our client firms focuses on dog bite incidents, for example), and it can sometimes encompass workers' compensation as well, but some lawyers and law firms focus exclusively on workers' compensation too. We have included addenda for wrongful death and workers' compensation at the end of this section as well.

What is personal injury – in a nutshell?
The vast practice area of personal injury law pertains, for our purposes, to civil claims on behalf of those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party. Our target firms take on plaintiffs' personal injury claims, so the injured plaintiff will always be the client; therefore, your perspective should be tailored toward a hypothetical injured client. As suggested in the above all-purpose definition, a key aspect of any personal injury case is negligence and the demonstration thereof in order to potentially secure a positive outcome in the case, be it in the form of a pretrial settlement or damages awarded after a judge or judge and jury finds in favor of the plaintiff. Not all cases go to trial, and many cases may be negotiated before the case goes to trial at the settlement table. Read more here: http://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/personal-injury-terms-and-procedures.html Negligence may be proven in multiple ways, but a key concept that frequently emerges is duty of care. In a nutshell, it's the legal obligation a person has to act reasonably when engaging in activities that could result in injury to another person or death. You can read more about this important concept here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_of_care

What could a personal injury lawyer do for his or her client?
Personal injury lawyers may evaluate and assemble a civil claim by considering evidence such as investigations by other authorities (whether it is an inquiry into a suspected medical malpractice incident by a state medical board or local police officers' investigation into a fatal car accident), witness accounts, camera footage and reports from accident reconstructionists; negotiate a settlement with the responsible party or, in some MVA cases, his or her insurance company; represent the plaintiff in court in a civil trial; and advise the client about issues relevant to the specific case such as the state's statute of limitations if, for instance, the responsible party in a fatal hit-and-run turns up a year after the incident (you need an identifiable defendant in order to construct a civil claim).

What does “MVA” stand for? How do I handle these blogs?
“MVA,” as it appears in the order title for some personal injury blogs, stands for “motor vehicle accidents,” and they are the most common subcategory of personal injury for which blog authors generate content. Source stories for this PI subcategory usually focus on a specific accident in the target firm's geographical area, but national-caliber stories about new passenger vehicle technologies or studies on texting while driving, for example, may crop up as well. Craft your summary like you would any other blog – focus on the important points first, and then fill out the details. Make sure your narrative of the sequence of events (if discussing a specific accident) is clear enough that the reader can construct an accurate picture of what happened without having to read the source first. See the general tips and suggestions document for tips on avoiding straight-paraphrasing, which MVA blogs are particularly prone to due to the nature and structure of their source stories. In many of these stories, the victim – either deceased or injured – should ideally not be the person at fault; for this reason, single-car accidents are largely discouraged, but they may work if the passenger was injured. Tailor your conclusion around the injured victim and the topic of negligence. When constructing a conclusion speculating about the hypothetical actions of a victim in the case you are discussing (“should he or she choose to file a claim,” of course), refrain from defending the motorist who seems to be at fault. For example, in a blog about a pedestrian accident, talking about how the pedestrian might have run

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into the road (thereby excusing the motorist who struck him or her) isn't really appropriate unless the source explicitly states that this, in fact, happened. Instead, you could speculate about the possibility of the motorist being distracted or intoxicated and how he or she might have had time to react had he or she exercised his or her duty of care. If your accident story is vague on details because the accident just occurred and is still being investigated, it leaves room for speculation when you discuss what the completed investigation may turn up. Consider the following: 1. Was an intersection involved? It may be possible to speculate about how at least one of the drivers may not have been obeying traffic signals (light or sign), which could indicate negligence. 2. Was a pedestrian/motorcycle driver involved? You could talk about how passenger car drivers need to be vigilant at all times in order to see these vulnerable and sometimes less visible individuals, and if the accident occurred at a crosswalk, you could discuss the pedestrian's right of way. 3. U-turns and left turns present their own problems since they require accurately gauging the speed of oncoming traffic as well as noting others who may be taking turns onto the same street at the same time. Impairment or distraction may cause a motorist to inaccurately gauge these elements and make a turn into another vehicle. 4. Other elements, such as weather conditions or the fact that the accident occurred in a densely populated area, may be usable for speculating about due care and the motorist's obligation to exercise it while driving. Keep in mind that there is a difference between civil and criminal negligence, and the burden of proof is different for each one. That said, a conviction for criminal negligence may inspire a civil case based in civil negligence; just remember that one doesn't directly affect the other. A criminal conviction does not automatically guarantee guilt in a civil trial!

Supplementary materials: Personal injury

Tips and suggestions for writing personal injury blogs:
The big points:
Be careful with phrasing: It's important to make sure your summary doesn't resemble the source story in phrasing or the order in which information is presented (narrative), but be careful when using your own words since some word choices can change the meaning of the original text. While certain words are similar, they can bring different images to mind: “veered,” “swerved,” “crossed over,” “lost control,” “drifted,” “careened,” – All have different visualizations, and the same applies for “hit,” “slammed into” and “collided with.” “At a high rate of speed” does not necessarily mean “speeding.” For instance, a speed limit is 65 mph can be considered a high rate of speed. Likewise, stories with approximate figures (“about 40,000 Sedona vans were recalled”) should maintain the sense of approximation with the word “about” or similar. Stating that “the manufacturer recalled 40,000 vehicles” would constitute a factual error, but “about 40,000 vehicles” is fine. Please avoid overdramatic or “tragic” phrasing. While these orders are meant to cater to those who have been injured, their purpose is not to create excessive sympathy. There's a tendency in injury blogs to emphasize the victim's suffering and the "tragic" nature of the incident and shy away from what can more meaningfully fill in the word count -- a discussion of liability/putting together a hypothetical case of this nature. There are a number of sources that are used that reference people dying in accidents. Please note that this does not refer to those people’s “wrongful deaths.” The reason for this is that a wrongful death is a civil claim, not an event. If these individuals’ deaths were caused by someone else, their families might file wrongful death claims in court. “Car accident lawyers,” “vehicle lawyers” and “wrongful death lawyers” do not technically exist. All of these subcategories are generally taken care of by personal injury lawyers. For more information on lawyer types, please visit http://www.lawyeredu.org/law-careers.html Attorneys are NOT investigators. While they can use the results of a completed accident investigation to construct a case or enlist the services of an accident reconstructionist, saying that they will “investigate the accident” implies that they are conducting the investigation themselves.

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Personal Injury
Addenda for special subcategories

Supplementary materials: Personal injury

Wrongful Death: Overview and tips
For wrongful death claims, families cannot usually claim grief or emotional pain and suffering. For the few times that it is possible, it is still rare. Some states allow for pain and suffering compensation in a wrongful death claim if it can be proven that the victim was conscious and could physically feel pain before death. This is very difficult to prove, and it isn’t usually done. Keep in mind that while mentioning compensation for emotional pain and suffering can be wrong, leaving it out is always right. “Mental anguish” is not always recoverable in wrongful death claims, and each state takes a different approach: http://gkt.com/faqs/wrongful_death_faqs.htm http://www.wisegeek.com/in-law-what-is-mental-anguish.htm

Here's a useful spreadsheet containing links to wrongful death recovery statutes for every state:
[Link to Rebecca's Google doc here] Lastly, only use the phrase “wrongful death” in the context of a wrongful death claim. Please avoid statements such as “the wrongful death occurred on Oct. 29 when...”

Workers' Compensation: Overview and tips
While some firms concentrate entirely on assisting injured workers with – and litigating and appealing if
necessary – workers' compensation claims, these matters generally fall under the auspices of the personal injury “umbrella” category. The significant distinction between a WC case and a standard personal injury claim boils down to liability. It is very important to note the following when crafting a conclusion for a blog categorized under “workers' compensation”: 1. Filing a WC claim and accepting the settlement waives the injured worker's right to a civil lawsuit (i.e. a personal injury claim). 2. A WC claim does not require proof of negligence on the part of the employer. What must be proven is that the worker suffered the injury while on the job. Filing a claim for an injury suffered outside the workplace – even if working conditions aggravate the injury – may be considered workers' compensation fraud, but this fact will not figure in to your conclusion since the focus in these blogs is on helping the injured worker. 3. If negligence or willful negligence figures in strongly in the story you're reading about, you could talk about filing a civil claim – personal injury or wrongful death – instead of/after rejecting a standard WC claim or settlement offer. Speculating about a civil claim against an employer is best for source articles dealing with OSHA investigations and citations. If it turns out that the worker was injured or killed on account of some gross negligence on the part of the employer, and OSHA investigates and finds fault with the employer, it may be better for the worker or the family of the deceased worker to file a lawsuit rather than a workers' comp claim or claim for workers' compensation death benefits. The payouts in these lawsuits may be larger since there is a cap in every state on WC benefits but not on recovery from a lawsuit. On the other hand, if the worker was injured through his or her own conduct or through no fault of the employer (he or she was simply on duty when an accident occurred), the expenses of pursuing a lawsuit would likely not be worth it, but he or she may still be eligible for WC.

In-depth practice area pages:

Criminal Defense

Supplementary materials: Criminal Defense

Overview
The Criminal Justice System
In the United States, the criminal justice system is a fundamental part of the government and society. Unlike in the civil courts, where victims seek redress of grievances personally, the plaintiff in criminal cases is the state itself. Here is a flowchart for the criminal justice system: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/eb/Cjsflowco.svg The prosecutor, often a district attorney or an assistant district attorney, is a lawyer who is an appointed or elected official whose job is to represent the best interests of the state. This allows the state to convict people of so-called "victimless crimes": actions that don't harm a particular person but considered harmful to society in general. Many laws against victimless crimes are attempts to stop the spread of vice — immoral behavior that degrades society (such as soliciting a prostitute) or actions that the state has designated as harmful or unhealthy enough to outlaw (such as smoking marijuana or underaged drinking). This also allows the state to prosecute people over the objections of the so-called "victim" as sometimes happens in domestic violence or statutory rape cases. This system gives prosecutors considerable discretion in deciding what cases to prosecute, which is something that defense lawyers can try to take advantage of. Generally speaking, prosecutors hate to lose and will only pursue cases if they think they will win. If a prosecutor thinks that the evidence is insufficient or that the jury will not believe a crucial witness, most will drop the charges instead of risk an acquittal, even if they strongly believe that the person is guilty. In some cases, prosecutors have decided not to pursue charges despite clear evidence of a crime being committed because they don't believe that it is in the best interest of the state. Prosecutors are sometimes accused of favoritism or partiality when they decide not to pursue charges against someone who is politically connected. One of the most varying cases is when a child dies in an accident. In cases of children who died from heat stroke after being accidentally left in cars, the results of the cases have varied in the extreme. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/28/AR2007072800644.html

Criminal Defense
Criminal defense attorneys are not just for guilty people, nor are they just for people who are innocent of the crime of which they've been accused. Criminal defense is so vital to the health of the justice system that the state will pay for the defendant's attorney if he or she can't afford one. Defense attorneys can help someone at any stage of the justice system, from a criminal investigation to petition the court to reinstate someone's rights long after he or she has been released from prison. Most of our source stories, however, are about arrests, trials and sentencing. Criminal defense is probably the most difficult perspective to write. Most of the source stories we use have more or less the same point of view that we ask the writers to take when writing the blogs. However, most stories about crimes are regurgitations of press releases that were written by the law enforcement officers who made the arrests. We rarely see a story in which the defendant was asked for their side of the story. When writing about crime for criminal defense, we ask the writers to avoid using prejudicial language and to avoid implying that a person definitely committed a crime that they haven't been convicted of. We don't ask writers to lie or misrepresent the facts. We simply ask that they take a different point of view. You may find that criminal defense blogs take more time to write than other subjects. Many writers and editors experience this. However, we find that practice will increase your speed and make writing these blogs much easier. We recommend that writers begin by taking their time to get the blogs correct before working on increasing their speed. TYPES OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE BLOGS: Drug offenses: Most drug violation stories involve search and seizures. While any criminal investigation can include a search, the primary evidence in drug cases is usually the drugs themselves. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that the people have a right to be free from "unreasonable search and seizure." This means that police do not have the right to search someone's body or property whenever they feel like it.

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A law enforcement officer usually needs one of three things to carry out a legal search: a search warrant issued by a judge, consent or probable cause in exigent circumstances. The search warrant must be "reasonable and specific," although what that consists of may be contested in court. Consent must be freely given, not coerced, and sometimes who may give consent for the search of a property is a matter of dispute. “Exigent circumstances” means that the police officer would not have time to obtain a warrant before evidence is destroyed or someone is harmed. Many drug cases turn on whether a search and seizure of drugs was legal or not. Defense lawyers often challenge searches. If the drug seizure is thrown out, the prosecutors may not have any other evidence to prove their charges, although this isn't necessarily so. Vehicles are considered less private than homes, and they are often searched during traffic stops. Police officers often perform "field tests" on substances to see if they are drugs or not. These field tests are not as reliable as the laboratory tests that generally take a few weeks to months to complete.

Supplementary materials: Criminal Defense

Major subcategory: DUI/DWI defense
All 50 states have the same legal limit for intoxication: .08 percent alcohol by volume. It's possible to be charged for DUI with blood alcohol content lower than .08 percent, but the prosecutors will have to prove that the person was impaired. The "per se" limit of .08 percent means that driving under any circumstances with .08 percent blood alcohol by volume is by itself illegal, no matter how safely the person was driving. DUIs are proven just like any other crime: by the totality of the evidence. Police officers use field sobriety tests on drivers they suspect of being drunk. Three tests have been approved by the NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/sfst/appendix_a.htm Police officers can use other tests, and the results are admissible in court, but they are not scientifically proven to be reliable. For instance, one common (but non NHTSA-approved) test is to ask the person suspected of drunk driving to recite the alphabet. A person with a speech impediment or poor English skills might do poorly on the test even while completely sober. Likewise, the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests don't work for individuals with leg, hip or back problems, and those who can't stand and walk will not be able to perform them (such as individuals who use wheelchairs). The horizontal gaze nystagmus test may be more reliable, but it can be more difficult to interpret it correctly. Please don't say that an individual "failed" or "passed" field sobriety tests as the results are more complicated than a simple pass or fail system. Alcohol breath censors give an estimation of someone's blood alcohol content. Breath tests are not reliable for chronic alcoholics or those with a BAC greater than .25 percent. Some medical conditions, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, can lead to a false positive. In general, breath tests have a bigger margin of error than blood tests. Most states have a law that states that by driving on the public highway, the person has consented to chemical testing for DUI. In a driver refuses to take a breath test, in most states, he or she will be arrested anyway, his or her license will be suspended and the police officer will get a warrant and take his or her blood by force. Blood tests are generally considered convincing proof of someone's blood alcohol content. In every state, driving impaired by drugs is also illegal. Having a legal prescription for drugs is not a defense for DUI charges, although it does help protect someone from charges of illegal drug use.

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Criminal Defense Tips and suggestions for writing
Accuracy: The following terms are not interchangeable: Deputies and police officers. Jail and prison. Parole and
probation. Arrested (avoid "arrested') and charged. Suspect (avoid 'suspect') and defendant. Plaintiff and prosecution.

Supplementary materials: Criminal Defense

Arrested: Avoid using the word "arrested." Say, "Police detained him on suspicion of ..." or "Police took him into
custody on charges of ... "

Avoid the terms "suspect," "arrested" and "victim." BAC levels: Render blood-alcohol content levels as such: .08 percent. No initial zero. Without the word "percent," the BAC is technically being overstated times 100. If someone's BAC is reported to be .25, they do not have one-fourth of their blood replaced by alcohol. It means that one fourth of 1 percent by volume of their blood is alcohol. Breathalyzer test (capitalized). Breathalyzer is a brand. The generic is "breath test" or "breath alcohol test." Charges: Long lists of charges will trip the plagiarism detector. To avoid this, change the order of the items on
the list. For example, the source story might say this: "He has been charged with impersonating an officer, impersonating a priest, arson, kidnapping, perjury and piracy." For a blog, mix up the list: "arson, perjury, kidnapping, impersonating an officer and a priest, and piracy." Source stories sometimes capitalize charges, but they are not proper nouns and should not be capitalized: "He was charged with robbery and resisting arrest." Policeman, policewoman: use "police officer." Spokesman, spokeswoman, or spokesperson: use "representative." TASER is a brand. The generic is "stun gun."

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Estate Planning and Probate Administration
Overview
This will cover several areas. Estate planning encompasses the preparation of documents and the taking of actions that are intended to preserve and protect an individual’s assets for ultimate disposition to beneficiaries upon his or her death.

In-depth practice area pages:

Supplementary materials: Estate/Probate

Basic estate planning documents include traditional simple wills, but they can get more sophisticated through
various types of trust agreements. Authors should have a familiarity with basic estate tax concepts (the federal exclusion is currently approx. $5.25 million, which means $10.5 million for married couples; some states have separate estate/inheritance taxes with far lower exclusions) as there are frequently source articles that deal with estate taxes and that are assigned to estate planning law firm blogs. Other documents that can form a part of the estate planning process and that are often emphasized in source articles are powers of attorney that cover financial and/or health care matters (the latter are often referred to as “health care proxies” or “directives”). These are designed to take effect when the maker becomes incapacitated or otherwise incapable of making these types of decisions. A person who dies without a valid will is said to have died “intestate” – the estate is then distributed in accordance with the state’s applicable laws of intestacy (usually to spouse/lineal descendants). One consequence is that the distribution may not be entirely in compliance with the wishes of the decedent – accordingly, many source articles will stress the importance of having at least a basic will as part of an overall estate plan. In a potential overlap with a divorce/family law blog, many states declare a will to be void when the maker gets divorced. Failure to make a new will would then result in intestacy. The process that a will goes through to first determine its validity and then to carry out the distributions is called probate. There is no probate without a valid will. Some estate assets pass directly to beneficiaries without going through probate (e.g., joint accounts with right of survivorship; life insurance policies; accounts with payable-on-death designations; assets contained in certain types of trusts; individual retirement accounts; 401k plans). These beneficiary designations will (in most cases) override a contrary provision in a will. Accordingly, it will often be useful (even in a conclusion to a blog that is based on an estate planning source article that doesn’t mention this) to recommend a periodic review of these beneficiary designations in the event that a change in personal circumstances (divorce, estranged children, etc.) would likely make the person rethink these original beneficiaries. These assets are still counted as part of the estate for estate tax purposes.

Probate administration is an area that an estate planning firm will also cover. This normally involves
the representation of a fiduciary (the executor of a will, the trustee of a trust), but it can also include representation of a beneficiary of a will that is being challenged. A simplistic (but useful) guide to follow is that

probate administration refers to a process that occurs after death while estate planning refers to a process that takes place during a person’s lifetime.

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In-depth practice area pages:

Family Law

Supplementary materials: Family Law

Overview
Although divorce makes up the majority of issues involving the practice area of family law, it is not the only type of case covered under the umbrella. Lawyers practicing family law handle civil cases as simple as drawing up prenuptial agreements or as complicated as obtaining paternity rights for a sperm donor. Family law attorneys may, among other actions, do the following for a client: ˆ Represent him or her in divorce proceedings (unless an attorney specifically handles mediation, avoid phrasing that suggests that the attorney represents both individuals) ˆ Draw up documents such as prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, visitation schedules in custody cases or settlement agreements ˆ Represent one of the parents in child custody hearings, arguing for his or her fitness as a parent and in the best interests of the child or children ˆ Facilitate mediation/alternative dispute resolution (only if the target firm site has a page for this) ˆ Advise the client on shared accounts, property division laws and asset valuation as well as other practical issues that may arise during the divorce process Subcategories of this practice area about which you may write a blog include: Divorce | Child custody | Child support | Same-sex divorce Paternity/fathers' rights | Alimony | Adoption There is a special addendum at the end of this section with more information about same-sex marriage and fathers' rights.

Tips for writing family law blogs
Even if the source article uses the second-person voice (“you, your”) when addressing its audience, that does not mean you should. Remain in the third person throughout to avoid changing the tone of your blog to the point where it is no longer in line with the client's specifications. Given the sensitive nature and intimacy of the issues discussed in family court, it may not be surprising to see several law firms describing their services by using flowery or emotional language. Please avoid doing this in blog posts. Lots of sources or firm websites will use emotional language, but the client has asked for these posts to remain neutral and informative. If you are writing a post from an article written by an "expert" in the field (as in any from Huffington Post), please avoid copying their list-like format. Keep in mind that bulleting is not advised for these blogs. Also, you can reference the authority in the post, stating something like “According to an authority on divorce..." in order to make clear that the advice offered isn't your own, but don't overdo it! Once or twice is enough. When discussing a celebrity divorce that happened in another state, please reference the state in which the firm is in first. A good way to do this is by saying something like, “Fans of Mick Jagger in New Jersey may be interested in the rock star’s recent divorce from David Bowie…” or something along those lines. This goes for any national piece, especially ones discussing changes to federal laws, for example. If the blog is for a divorce attorney, it should be pro-divorce (constructively discussing the positive aspects of it, such as making a fresh start and regaining financial independence) and avoid stating negative things about a divorce, such as "Divorce can be extremely stressful for Ohio residents..."

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In-depth practice area pages:

Family Law

Supplementary materials: Family Law

Special topics: Same-sex marriage and fathers' rights
Same-Sex Marriage:
Note that many of the sources you come across that include same-sex marriage will cover new information regarding changes in state or federal law. However, conclusions should still be written assuming that individuals in same-sex marriages are entitled to the same rights as those in traditional marriages. Attorneys can offer the same services to both traditional and same-sex couples. These can include: Assistance during adoption Divorce representation Asset division Child custody Alimony and child support Financial Planning Estate administration guidance Drafting of wills and trusts Legal issues arising regarding same-sex marriages can include:

Custody — Biological parents are often given custody automatically. However, in same-sex couples where one
member is the biological parent, the other parent must often go through an adoption process in order to gain custody. This is similar to the process where step-parents adopt the child of a spouse.

Divorce —I f the couple becomes married in a state where same-sex marriage is recognized they will also be afforded the "full rights and benefits" given to traditional-marriage couples, including the ability to divorce.
However, if the same-sex couple becomes a resident of a state where their marriage is not recognized, divorce may be more difficult to pursue.

Fathers' rights
Fathers are afforded rights similar to those of mothers in regards to their children, but the courts may traditionally privilege the mother. In the event of a divorce, depending on the circumstances, fathers may be entitled to receiving child support and spousal support as well as custodial rights over children. In some cases, fathers may have to provide evidence of parenthood in order to claim custody. Evidence may be necessary in cases where the father was not included on the birth certificate.

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In-depth practice area pages:

Supplementary materials: Business/Commercial Law

Business and Commercial Law

Overview
Business and commercial firms handle transactional matters (entity formation, financings, mergers and acquisitions) as well as related litigation (usually breach of contract actions, but some of these firms may handle shareholder lawsuits as well). It is advisable to know the different types of structures that are available for a new venture – corporation; limited liability company (“LLC”); partnership; etc. – as well as the tax and other differences among them. We have yet to see any source article (or anchor text) dealing with partnerships. Many acquisition transactions will have one or more regulatory aspects involved. As an example, depending upon the size of the companies and the particular industry, there may be antitrust considerations. Financings will require compliance with federal and state securities laws. The two principal federal securities laws are the Securities Act of 1933 (in general, this governs the offering of securities in a company for the purpose of raising capital) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (in general, this governs the subsequent trading of those securities and the reporting requirements of the issuer). State securities laws are called “blue sky laws” and must be complied with even where a particular transaction is exempt under the 1933 Act. These are very broad generalizations, but the few client firms that engage in this practice area usually do not represent companies engaged in large-scale financing transactions. The differences between a corporation and an LLC can be subtle, but they are important. In general, a corporation is a separate entity for tax purposes, whereas in an LLC, the entity’s income flows directly through to its owners (similar to a partnership in that regard). A corporation has “shares” of stock, whereas an ownership interest in an LLC is usually referred to as an “interest” or a “unit.” Most companies that contemplate raising capital from outside investors will be formed as (or converted to) a corporation. Both structures are formed under the laws of a particular state, and both provide a shield from liabilities to their owners, assuming (and this is important) that all legal and regulatory formalities are complied with. This would include the filing of periodic reports with applicable authorities, the maintenance of separate and distinct books and records, and the lack of commingling of assets. Ifthe entity is properly structured and maintained, owners will have no personal liability for its debts. Failure to keep an entity in “good standing” with the state may jeopardize its existence and could lead to the removal of that liability shield (as well as preclude the entity from entering into valid contracts, etc.) Officers and directors of a corporation have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of its shareholders. This is both under common law as well as state statute. A breach of this duty could give rise to a shareholder lawsuitthat may be handled by a client firm.

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