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Why a lawyer should be a part of your business plan

Why a lawyer should be a part of your business plan

Small-Business-Need-A-LawyerIf you are a small business, it is crucial that you have a lawyer in your arsenal. In the business world, you could get served on any ordinary day. Your business could be destroyed even before it takes off. Good legal representation is as important to a new business as a well-thought-out business plan or hard-earned seed capital. The following are some instances in which you may need to involve a lawyer.

When writing the employee handbook
As a start-up, as soon as you hire your first employee, you are at risk of an employee lawsuit. This is why you should hire a lawyer from the very onset review your employee handbook. An employee handbook contains the businesses’ purpose, policies and practices. A lawyer with the technical know-how will make sure your practices are in line with state and federal law, and at the same time cushioning you from unexpected liability.

When a government inspector stops by
We all dread the regular impromptu visits by the government inspector. Even if we have done nothing wrong and everything is up to par, our self-doubt won’t let us proper. What if you didn’t have to worry anymore? With a lawyer that is well acquainted with the regular changes to state and federal employment law, those days are gone. They will ensure you and your business are protected every step of the way.

If a harassment claim is filed
This is a very sensitive issue since opinions are relative. What one may find funny, another may be utterly offended by. And just like that, you will have a harassment claim on your hands. Such a situation should be handled with the uttermost care and seriousness as it could potentially blow up. Who better to deal with this than your lawyer who is experienced with dealing with conflicting parties?

If you just got served
The first thing you should do if you are served with a lawsuit is to contact your lawyer. As unwarranted as it may seem, it is not advisable, whatever the circumstances, to directly contact the individual or party that is suing you. They may take advantage of the situation and file a harassment claim against you. It is therefore best to leave all communication to your lawyer.

You need to fire someone
Laying someone off is no easy task. No one hires expecting to have to fire. Unfortunately, it is inevitable. It is even worse when it is not taken well and blown out of proportion. To avoid this, it is best you consult your lawyer so it is done as lawfully right as possible.

Filing a patent
This process can be very expensive and time consuming. Furthermore, it could take years to receive the patent approval. Luckily, there are patent attorneys that specialize in this kind of thing. Their specialty is different and so are the laws they have to learn. Consequently, they can evaluate a product and determine if it is worth the businesses’ while.

What you need to know about probation

What you need to know about probation

probationProbation in criminal law (not to be confused with probation at the workplace) is a period during which an offender is put under supervision. Referred to as a probation order, it is issued by the court and supervised by a probation officer (not the same as a police officer).

When probation is imposed

If an offender’s sentence is suspended or they are conditionally discharged, they are always given a probation order to ensure they live up to their end of the deal.

A probation order is sometimes supplemented with a fine, a conditional sentence, intermittent imprisonment or imprisonment for less than two years. Though the maximum time one can be on probation is three years, a typical probation period lasts one or two years.

Definitions

Conditional discharge
This is when an offender is found guilty of a crime but is not convicted. They are instead let go on condition that comply with or adhere to the terms in their probation order. However, if the offender is found guilty of another offence during this time, the court may revoke their probation and sentence the individual to whatever punishment that would have been imposed at the time of their first offence.

Suspended sentence
In this case, the individual’s conviction is recorded but the sentence is not passed. Like for a conditional discharge, the court may revoke the probation order and impose a prison sentence.

Intermittent imprisonment
This sentence usually lasts 90 days or less. In some cases, the court may order that it be served at irregular intervals like on the weekends – hence the name intermittent imprisonment. This sentence is usually accompanied with a probation order to cater for the times that the probationer is out free and a flight risk. Another probation order may be made in case the sentence needs to be followed up with further probation.

Period of probation
Usually the probation order comes into force as soon as it is made or issued. In the case of one that is imposed after incarceration or a conditional sentence, it comes into effect at the end of the prison term or conditional sentence respectively.

Features of a probation order
• The order cannot be in force for more than three years
• Two orders cannot run consecutively (unless the offender has a couple of different orders imposed on them at the same time)
• They run till the expiry date unless the court lets the individual off probation early. The court may also reduce the length of probation order at any point in time.

There are conditions that are contained in every probation order. They include:
• Maintain peace and good behavior
• Always heed orders to appear in court
• Inform the court or probation officer of changes in names, address or job

Other conditions may include:
• regularly reporting to a probation officer
• not using or having drugs that are not clinically prescribed in your possession
• not purchasing, carrying or consuming alcohol
• getting counseling or rehabilitation
• performing community service
• staying from certain individuals

The most common types of sentences in Canada

The most common types of sentences in Canada

Canadian criminal justice systemThe Canadian criminal justice system, like any other justice system, is governed by a set of intricate, ever-evolving rules and regulations that are meant to maintain order amongst its citizens. There are many forms of punishment an offender is liable to once convicted in a court of law. Other than in the event that there is a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge is at liberty to choose whatever sentence he sees fit for the crime and offender at hand. It’s a given that you can only be convicted if you plead guilty or are found guilty.

Purpose of sentencing
• To hinder the offender from committing any more crimes
• To prevent those in society from committing crimes to start with
• To protect the society from the danger an offender potentially poses
• To punish the offender
• To rehabilitate the offender
• To offer some form of compensation to victims

Types of sentences

A Conditional Discharge is granted to an offender that has been found guilty but is not convicted of their crimes. Instead, the offender is given a probation order entailing conditions that if not followed to the letter, could lead to conviction. The charge remains in the offender’s record for three years after which is automatically discharged. This charge does not earn them a criminal record.

An Absolute Discharge is similar to a conditional discharge on the most part. Aside from the fact that no probation order is made and the charge stays on the offender’s record for a year before it is discarded, there is no difference between the two.

A Probation Order is issued by the court to an offender after which a probation officer looks out to see if the offender upholds it. Typically, it consists of a set of rules and regulations they are supposed to follow or a set of guidelines they ought to complete within a stipulated time. A breach of a probation order could result in a criminal offence charge issued by the probation officer in charge. Suspended sentences and conditional discharges are always supplemented with a probation order. They normally last three years maximum.

A Suspended Sentence mirrors a conditional discharge. The only difference is that it stays on the offender’s record unless they requested for a pardon.

A Fine is a sum of money that the offender is required to pay to the court within a specified amount of time. It can be given in addition to a minimum jail time or instead of it. This is dependent on the offence committed. Along with the fine, they are also expected to pay a victim fine surcharge.

Imprisonment involves serving time in jail. The length of a sentence varies with the type of crime committed. Once a conviction is made, it can only be removed from an offender’s record by a pardon. Where time is served depends on the length of stay. Shorter sentences are mostly spent at the county jail or provincial reformatory while longer ones (more than two years) are spent in a federal penitentiary.

The lawsuit process

The lawsuit process

Lawsuits are very complicated and can be very difficult to handle on your own. Though it is not given that you will win the case, the probability of wining is higher if your case is guided by someone who has specialized training than if you represent yourself with little knowledge of the legal system (I recommend Mario Madrid, the best DUI attorney I know, check out his Facebook page).

The following are the main steps in a lawsuit.

1. Gathering information
With the help of the client, the lawyer collects and puts together information to be used in court to defend the claim. It is at this stage that witnesses are interviewed and their statements are taken. To gather additional information, investigators may be hired as well.

2. Lawsuit is officially filed
The lawyer prepares the necessary documents and officially presents them in court. The court then date-stamps all copies of the documents and keeps one in their records. The filed copies are then presented by the lawyer to the defendant’s lawyer. Expenses at this stage are for filing.

3. Interim applications
Before the trial, either of the lawyers may go to the court to ask for orders or directions. For instance, the lawyer may ask the defendant to produce a potentially incriminating piece of evidence they are holding back. This is called an interim application.

4. Examination for discovery
This is a pre-trial process that allows the lawyers of each of the parties to question the other party under oath. This is meant to help the lawyers find additional information that may help them build their case. The questions are usually restricted to information that is relevant to the case or to the discovery of facts that may be relevant.

5. Review of the law
After understanding the facts of the case, the lawyer has enough information to review the law. He/she can then give an opinion on the case to his client and what it is likely to be the outcome at trial.

6. Negotiation and settlement
When need arises, the lawyer may approach the defense lawyers to see if they are willing to settle. A settlement is an agreement between the prosecution and defense that is meant to resolve the issue without going to trial. If the defendant is willing to negotiate, the case doesn’t proceed to court.

7. Preparation for trial
If the two parties do not come to an agreement, the case still goes to trial. The lawyer at this point prepares himself by assembling the necessary documentation, informing and arranging for the witnesses to attend and preparing his legal arguments.

8. Trial
On the day of the trial, the lawyer represents his/her client as expected. After this, the decision is left to the judge. It could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for a judgment to be made. After judgment is passed, the lawyer prepares the court order which is signed by the judge.

9. Completing the claim
If the case is won, the lawyer completes the claim by issuing the client with the settlement or judgment money, after subtracting their fees and expenses.

How to find a good lawyer for your legal needs

How to find a good lawyer for your legal needs

There are many reasons you may need a lawyer other than to help you when you are in trouble with the law. For organizations and businesses, it is important that they have a lawyer or better yet a team of lawyers in case of a rainy day. This is ultimately important for the company’s reputation and performance. On a personal level, most people hire a lawyer when the issue at hand is of substantial significance to them.

With this in mind, how do people find lawyers? Most set out to find friends, family or neighbors who have lawyers in their circles. The idea of getting lawyers from referrals is actually a good place to begin your search. However since, needs and preferences vary from one individual to the next, recommendations are not always as helpful.

The following are some helpful tips that can guide you in your selection of an attorney.

Conduct interviews

Being that there is no one-size-fits-all lawyer, interviewing the lawyers you have been referred to is the best way to identify which one meets your specific needs. The initial consultation which normally lasts an hour or less is free for most attorneys. There are a couple of things you may want to find out including their experience and success with your type of matter, their fees (also additional fees), how often you will be billed, and if they can provide references.

Do not over rely on the rate per hour to judge the quality of a lawyer. Higher fees do not necessarily equate to higher qualifications. On the other hand, low fees do not indicate incompetence or inexperience. Most people unconsciously assume that this is the case. After an interview, you would be better placed to decide if an attorney is right for you or not.

Do a background check

background checkrecommended maritime accident attorney says: when looking into a lawyer’s credibility, make sure you separate actual achievements from claimed credentials and accomplishments. A good place to start is by looking for additional education, qualifications and accreditation’s. It is very unlikely that they will turn out to be a highly qualified and educated failure. Another way is to ask a fellow lawyer. The legal world is very competitive and lawyers therefore tend to know about each other. Fellow attorneys may be able to give you valuable information like their practice habits, reputation and overall competence. You may not find this information online or in a book.

Know your budget

The aim is to find quality legal services at an affordable price. Knowing how much you are willing to spend will make it easier to find something that is in your price range. Regardless of being presumed expensive, a lawyer can help you find affordable options dependent on your needs and budget. For example, they could offer you one of their junior associates to work on your case for you at a lower rate. Most reputable lawyers have junior colleagues working under their tutelage. They do most of the senior lawyers’ research work and are highly competent.