Lawyers aren’t known as the most forward-thinking, technologically savvy group. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since a key principle of the American judicial system is the concept of precedent; making decisions now that are bound by decisions of the past. Attorneys are notoriously hesitant to adopt change. But in today’s constantly changing legal market, it’s not good enough to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the benefits that technology can add to the attorney-client relationship.

The American Bar Association publishes the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which acts as guidance for the ethical rules adopted by each state. Model Rule 1.1 requires lawyers to provide competent representation to a client, which includes understanding the benefits and risks associated with technology. Technology is also referenced in Model Rule 1.6(c) which requires a lawyer to make “reasonable efforts” to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of or access to information relating to the representation. The Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct have implemented both concepts . Continue Reading Is Your Attorney Tech Savvy?

As a recent graduate of Leadership Lancaster’s Core Class and member of the ACHIEVE Committee, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the programs that Leadership Lancaster offers to Lancaster County. For more information on my experience, check out the following series of Reflections on Leadership Lancaster posts: About One Month In, Part Two, and The Finale.

Earlier this year, Executive Director and fearless leader Deb Rohrer announced that she would be retiring after 10 years of serving Leadership Lancaster. The announcement was the beginning of a search for a replacement to fill Deb’s big shoes.

The search came to an end last week when Leadership Lancaster announced that Kate Zimmerman, currently Program Director of Leadership Lancaster, would be promoted to the role of Executive Director. To anyone familiar with the program over the past few years, Kate and Deb have been a great leadership team for the organization, so it comes as no surprise that Kate was selected for the role. Continue Reading Leadership Lancaster Announces New Executive Director

Another day, another scam.Scam Uses Pennsylvania Supreme Court Phone Number

According to a report from the Legal Intelligencer, in an attempt to obtain personal information and money, scammers have called hundreds of individuals. The caller ID shows the phone number 717-781-6181 and states “PA Courts.”

In the case of any suspicious call, email or other communication you receive requesting sensitive personal information or money, we recommend taking steps to independently determine the source of the communication and disregarding the contact information provided in it. You can do this by finding contact information from a reputable source such as a website and contacting the purported sender to inquire about the request. You can also do a Google search that includes the word “scam” and the purported source to get an idea of the typical types of scams that are used. Continue Reading Public Service Announcement: Scam Uses Pennsylvania Supreme Court Phone Number

While “made-up holidays” and “National _____ Weeks” have been on the rise, since 1963, the United States Small Business Administration has celebrated National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. That basically makes National Small Business Week an OG of the made-up holiday scene.

Though National Small Business Week is a nationwide event, Lancaster County is home to a thriving small business community with great resources available to entrepreneurs to help start and grow their businesses.

Here are just a few resources available to entrepreneurs in Lancaster County:

Continue Reading Think Lancaster During National Small Business Week

For entrepreneurs in states that permit state equity crowdfunding, effective today, a change in federal rules will allow those states to allow entrepreneurs to use social media to solicit out of state residents to raise money for their business ventures. This article posted on LancasterOnline describes the impact of the law change on businesses raising money pursuant to state crowdfunding laws: Law change could boost little-used state crowdfunding laws.

Previously, social media solicitation was prohibited. The revised rules are 17 CFR Sections 230.147 and 230.147A and can be found at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s website.

Pennsylvania does not currently have a state crowdfunding law, but Pennsylvania residents and businesses could be impacted by this change if they are solicited by out of state companies raising capital for their ventures. Since May 2016, Pennsylvania businesses may utilize federal crowdfunding laws to offer equity in their companies. Continue Reading Federal Rule Changes Impacting Equity Crowdfunding and Social Media Use Go Into Effect Today

This is Part 1 of a series of posts analyzing the legal issues in the hit podcast S-Town, produced by the creators of Serial and This American Life. For more background, check out the introduction to the series. Although the events in S-Town occur in Alabama, for the purposes of this series, the legal analysis will be based on general principles of law and Pennsylvania law, since we’re Pennsylvania lawyers.

SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t listened to the series yet and want to avoid spoilers, proceed beyond this point with caution.

Chapters 1 and 2 of S-Town focus on what brought narrator/reporter Brian Reed to rural Alabama: John B. McLemore contacts Reed with a rumor that there may have been a murder committed by the son of a wealthy, well-connected business man in town. The son’s name is Kabrahm. The rumor mill is in high gear, and there are reports of a cover-up by local police and that Kabrahm is a brazen alleged killer who is said to be bragging about killing another man in a fight.

John goes into great detail about the rumors that he’s heard, and by talking publicly about the accusations, would Kabrahm have any legal recourse against John?

While this issue is not explored by the podcast, it provides an interesting case study for the law of defamation. Defamation is defined as the action of damaging the good reputation of someone, and includes libel and slander. Libel is when the action is in writing or another print medium, and slander is when the damaging action is verbal. People often get libel and slander confused – a simple device that I used in law school to keep them straight is that slander is spoken. Continue Reading Legal Lessons from Hit Podcast, S-Town – Part 1: Defamation

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of podcasts. At any given time, my Overcast queue is full of episodes covering a variety of topics, including tech, productivity, true crime, law and music. I also write about them from time to time – check out my posts Podcasts and the Law and The Law According to Planet Money.

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of buzz about a new podcast called S-Town, which is the latest series from the creators of public radio/podcast giant This American Life and the hugely popular podcast Serial.

So what is S-Town about? The show’s website introduces it this way: “John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.” Continue Reading Legal Lessons from Hit Podcast, S-Town – Introduction

One of the highlights of the Lancaster tech community’s big year in 2016 was the opening of preregistration for LanCity Connect, a high speed, fiber optic internet service for Lancaster City residents and businesses. LanCity Connect is a public-private partnership between the City of Lancaster and MAW Communications, located in Reading.

As outlined in this LancasterOnline article, my favorite coworking space, The Candy Factory, has enjoyed increased speed and reliability after being an early adopter of the service. Since its installation in January, I’ve noticed a significant increase in speed. For example, when I log in remotely to my office computer, there is almost no noticeable lag in the connection.

If you haven’t checked out the LanCity Connect website lately, it has been updated with a residential deployment schedule, with scheduling for installation available beginning this month. There are four primary tiers of service available, with base costs from $34.99 to $89.99 and speeds from 50 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps. By way of comparison, Comcast’s maximum advertised speed is up to 200 Mbps. There is also a low income tier available to qualifying residents.

This project is just one more example of the local government’s commitment to assist the growing technology industry in Lancaster County. It’s an exciting time to live and work in Lancaster County.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University School of Law and advises clients on issues of Business Law, Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology & Internet Law.

crayonsToday’s National Crayon Day. While it should be a happy day, full of nostalgic memories of simpler times, I’m feeling bittersweet since Crayola has announced that it will retire dandelion from its standard 24 pack of crayons. With change comes new opportunity – a brand new color will be announced today to replace dandelion, albeit with some big shoes to fill. The name of the crayon will likely be determined by a contest.

As a business lawyer, I’ve grown fond of the familiar entity formation laws that I’ve grown up with. The Pennsylvania Limited Liability Company Law of 1994 has gone largely unchanged since my graduation from law school, and it was my dandelion. I knew that when I opened up my box of crayons (Westlaw), the LLCL was there in all of its glory, just as I remembered it. But as of tomorrow, the provisions of Act 170 will be the law of the land for all Pennsylvania LLCs and will be known as the Pennsylvania Uniform Limited Liability Company Act of 2016. Unfortunately, the naming contest is already over and our legislature missed an opportunity to consult the Internet, which has significant expertise in creative naming.

Act 170 makes some significant revisions to the unincorporated entity laws in Pennsylvania. Unincorporated entities include partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs) and now limited liability limited partnerships. While the law was effective on February 21, 2017 for newly created entities, as of April 1, 2017, the changes in Act 170 apply retroactively to all existing LLCs and limited partnerships. Continue Reading Significant Changes Effective April 1 for Pennsylvania’s LLC and Partnership Laws

One of my coworkers (thanks Taylor!) recently shared an interesting article with me: YouTubers Face Fines, Possible Eviction For Making Videos From Their Home. Since I often help clients start new business ventures, many of whom begin operating out of their home, this story was particularly interesting to me.

In short, the article describes a situation where a group of friends lived together and professionally make YouTube gaming videos and vlogs – one of the residents has nearly a million subscribers on his Channel. The residents of the house received a visit from their county code enforcement official, who said that the group was allegedly in violation of a zoning restriction that prohibited a certain number of unrelated people living in the same residence.

In addition, the group was allegedly running a business out of their house without a license and if they didn’t either stop operating or obtain a business license, they could be subject to fines of up to $136 per day.

While the definitions of what constitutes “doing business” can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, in Cobb County, Georgia, filming and uploading YouTube videos can constitute doing business and requires a business license.

So what lessons can be learned from the above situation? Continue Reading Legal Considerations of Doing Business at Home