The Internet is an amazing tool where you can find information on almost anything. Last week, I, Matt Landis, learned how to fix a running toilet by googling it. I searched for “how to fix a running toilet” then watched a YouTube video, did a quick fix and I was good to go. I recognize this is a minor repair and many of you may not have even had to look it up, but let’s just say my home repair skill set is extremely limited.

There are a growing number of online services that will provide forms for any number of legal issues, including business entity formation, contracts, pleadings, estates planning documents and more. Often times these services appear to be a fraction of the cost of a hiring a lawyer. Other sites provide these documents for free. So if you can get forms to complete on your own for a fraction of the price or for free, why bother hiring a lawyer?

Continue Reading Beware of Legal Forms Obtained Online

You’ve started a business and are exploring options for renting office space. Maybe you’ve even reviewed a few commercial leases, but are hesitant to pull the trigger on a long term lease. Perhaps you work from home and have a home office setup but miss the camaraderie of a traditional office. Or maybe you need a break from your traditional office, a space to work while traveling, or a separate location for your side hustle.

Coworking provides potential solution to all of these situations. So what is it? Coworking is a community-driven, collaborative working environment shared by people who may be self-employed or working remotely.

Coworking spaces typically provide a variety of options that range from a day pass to a permanent desk, and provide amenities such as high-speed internet connections, conference rooms, a mailing address, a kitchen, and printing. All of the above amenities are musts in today’s business world, but where coworking really shines is the focus on community-building through its members and fostering a supportive environment.

For a few days per month, I’ve been trying it out at The Candy Factory in Lancaster. The experiences so far has been amazing – I’ve met many talented entrepreneurs, professionals and all around good people who are invested in the community and helping one another in all walks of life. Based on my experience, it’s not surprising that people thrive when they cowork. Continue Reading Coworking Provides a Valuable Alternative to Commercial Office Space, Working From Home

I recently had an opportunity to speak to the Lancaster Area Paralegal Association at its Second Annual Civil Conference regarding practical tips for using of social media evidence in court.

One of the issues I was asked to address was the practical question of ‘how do you capture’ social media evidence. Social media evidence can be collected in one of two ways. First, the data can be “self-collected” either by the client or by the law firm. Examples of this type of collection would include taking screen shots of the relevant social media. Screenshots, however, often omit other relevant portions of that user’s social media page, resulting in the loss of potentially valuable information or making it more difficult to authenticate (more on that in the next article, Part II – How Do You Authenticate It). A better self-collection technique is to download or archive an entire account. For example, Facebook provides an option on the user settings page to download that user’s entire account. Self-collection generally works best when attempting to capture social media from your own client or a cooperative witness. Continue Reading Social Media Evidence in Court: Part I – How Do You Capture it?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released some big news yesterday.  The much anticipated auction of Restaurant Liquor Licenses is slated to take place at the end of October.  The PLCB issued a press release on Sept 13th announcing that 40 restaurant liquor licenses are going to be auctioned in this first round and inviting bids for those licenses.  For Lancaster County, 2 licenses will be available via this auction.  While this appears to be great news and may provide some much needed restaurant licenses to the market, the news is not without its problems.  Initially, from the language contained the PLCB’s release, it appears that a condition of the auction is the successful bidder will have to post the full amount of the purchase price within 2 weeks of being notified they were the highest bidder.  If licenses sell for anything close to the current market value, that could mean a successful bidder would have to pay in cash or other available funds upwards of $300,000.  That probably eliminates most true restaurateurs from the process and opens the door for large chain restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores to buy these licenses. Continue Reading Pennsylvania Liquor Licenses on the Auction Block

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced that they are cracking down on celebrities and social media influencers who get paid to promote brands and fail to clearly disclose that they were compensated for the endorsement.

The FTC regulates advertising across many different mediums, including social media. So does this apply to you? If you’ve been compensated in some way in exchange for promoting a brand, then yes, FTC regulations require a clear disclosure of that relationship to consumers. Compensation doesn’t necessarily only mean receiving cash – if you receive free products in exchange for promotion, that can be enough to trigger a disclosure requirement to your audience. Continue Reading FTC Cracking Down on Social Media Sponsorships

The new liquor license legislation in Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as Act 39, is rapidly being implemented by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  The law, passed by the legislature in June and signed shortly thereafter by the governor, went into effect on August 8, 2016 and consumers around the Commonwealth are already quickly seeing its effects.  Most notably, many Pennsylvania liquor stores are now open expanded hours and selling lottery tickets and the PLCB has already approved a number of expanded wine permits which would allow grocery stores, restaurants or hotels to sell wine to go.  Consumers in Pennsylvania can now also receive shipments directly to their door from wineries across the country, provided that wineries obtain a new direct wine shipment permit.   These permits certainly provide for added convenience although the PLCB does impose some additional taxes on those purchases in exchange. Continue Reading More Big Changes for the Pennsylvania Liquor Code

It’s August, training camps and preseason games are in full swing, and the NFL regular season is right around the corner. In case you missed it on my firm bio, I’m the reigning champion of my fantasy football league. Fantasy football is just a game, but you’d be hard pressed to find many that treat it that way. I’ve been a member of many leagues over the years, and there are inevitably problems that arise throughout the course of the season. How can you avoid some of the most common problems and avoid hiring a fantasy sports dispute resolution attorney?

Tip 1: Read the Rules

The league rules are basically a contract that you are agreeing to at the beginning of the season. If members don’t read the rules, it’s asking for trouble. It could start at the draft – why is everyone selecting a kicker in the first round? Oh, field goals are 25 points. Or it could happen later in the season, as it did with our league one year with an argument about a trade deadline. The dispute led to approximately 132 spirited emails before it was finally resolved. That may not be an exaggeration.

Assuming you haven’t had your draft yet, determine the rules of your league now and send a reminder email for everyone to review the rules well in advance of the draft. Even if your draft has occurred, rule changes that don’t affect scoring could still be made since the season hasn’t started yet. Make sure to highlight any rule changes and address any disputes that occurred in previous years. Continue Reading The League: Tips from a Lawyer for a Successful Fantasy Football Season

When it comes to technology risks, it is easy to be lulled into believing that risks like scamming and hacking are only targeted at the largest of business enterprises. While large technology companies like Facebook and Twitter are certainly forced to react to such threats, it is naïve to think that small businesses cannot also be the target of attacks. To paraphrase the eternal wisdom Dr. Seuss, “a company’s a company, no matter how small.”

Even “low tech” small businesses can become victims, as highlighted by the recent attack on Lancaster County’s Amish Experience at Plain & Fancy Farm. Amish Experience became the victim of a phone scam called spoofing, where an attacker uses a business’s caller ID to make robo-calls to unsuspecting users. While the attack itself did not disable the Amish Experience’s systems, a wave of calls from the aggravated recipients of the robo-calls overwhelmed all seven of the Amish Experience’s phone lines for an entire business day. More detail on this attack is available in the Central Penn Business Journal’s recent article Phone scam puts Amish Experience on hold.

Continue Reading A Company’s a Company, No Matter How Small – Being Mindful of Technology Risks As a Small Business

Nearly all home builders and developers give some sort of warranty to their buyers.  Sometimes these warranties are limited and negotiated between the builder and the buyer.  Other builders provide a “standard” ten-year warranty from one of many home warranty companies.  No matter what kind of warranty is provided, however, builders want to make sure that the written warranty is the only kind of warranty that applies.  Whenever a builder has a dispute with a homeowner, the  homeowner will try to establish other kinds of warranties:  an implied warranty of habitability, an implied warranty for merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, a warranty for reasonable workmanship, or claims for misrepresentation of latent defects in the new home construction.

A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed this issue.  Streiner v. Baker Residential of Pennsylvania decided that if the written warranty is “clear and unambiguous” that it effectively eliminates any other warranty “express or implied as to quality, fitness for a particular purpose, merchantability, habitability, or otherwise.” Continue Reading How to Make Sure the Builder’s Warranty is the Only Warranty

You don’t have to be an expert to see that over the past two decades, our lives have been slowly taken over by technology. At home, your FitBit tracks your steps, heartbeat and other health information, your personal photos and documents are stored in the cloud, and any number of home appliances are getting “smarter” and increasingly connected. Technology has also shaped the office and what it means to be at work, allowing work from nearly anywhere with mobile devices and the rise of email, video conferencing and high speed cellular connections. Technology has changed the way we work, play, and even raise our children. Continue Reading Information Technology & Internet Law Practice Group Launches Serving the Greater Lancaster Area