It was my pleasure to attend the recent Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry presentation of the “Changing Nature of Banking in Central PA.”  The presenters were Brian Bisignani of Post & Schell and Dave Hornberger and Andria Linn of Orrstown Bank.  They spoke about topics ranging from the effect of the recent bank acquisitions in central Pennsylvania, to the growth of community banks in Lancaster County, the challenges of marketing to millennials, the decline in retail sales, and cyber security and phishing attacks.

One of the things that struck me was that over thirty percent of all of the cash deposits in Lancaster County were affected by the recent bank acquisitions, or “roll ups” to use the term that Dave frequently called them.  In a very short amount of time there have been huge changes in local banking, affecting both banks and their customers.

Dave did a great job of summing up the concerns I have heard from many bankers over the past few months.  He noted that very big banks can be competitive because of their rates and lending base.  Smaller community banks gain customers by emphasizing their flexibility, with a faster speed to market and more personal customer service.  While these are all necessary, especially the personal level of service, they are not everything that our customers need.  Continue Reading Trends in the Banking Industry

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

It was announced on Wednesday that one of the more popular craft breweries in the country, Wicked Weed Brewing out of Ashville, North Carolina, was acquired by Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest producer of beer.  Interestingly (but not surprising if you follow the craft beer industry) the announcement was met with significant backlash from the craft beer community.  The acquisition garnered significant criticism on Twitter, with many accusing Wicked Weed of “selling out.” The deal even generated a statement from the North Carolina’s Craft Brewers Guild, saying that they were “disheartened” by the announcement.  In another example, when Elysian Brewing Company out of Seattle announced its sale to Anheuser-Busch in 2015, the owner reported that customers were buying beers and dumping them onto the floor in protest of the sale!

Why are craft brewers treated so differently in the business world than other startups?  Why are they accused of “selling out” when in other industries, startup companies are celebrated and their founders turned into celebrities when they successfully sell off their company for millions (or hundreds of millions) of dollars?

The answer is not so simple and there seems to be reasonable arguments that can be made on both sides of the issue (beyond just pouring out a perfectly good beer).  Customers and craft beer enthusiasts often express concern that the takeover by a large, international corporate giant is going to impact the quality of the beer.  In some cases, this seems to be a justifiable concern.  The article from Thrillist cites a number of examples including Goose Island and Ballast Point where, after the acquisition, the original ownership left, recipes were changed, and in one case, a coveted batch of beer had to be recalled because of a non-toxic bacteria that infected the beer required its recall.  These issues were all blamed on the takeover and many people swore off drinking these beers as a result. Continue Reading Double (IPA) Standard for Craft Breweries?

Today is National Superhero Day.  Earlier this month I had the opportunity to accompany one of the partners of the firm to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  As a young attorney who has not yet had the opportunity to argue at the Superior Court, this was an exciting day for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Attorney Holly Filius’ argument of an appeal of a custody order in front of a panel of three Superior Court Judges was professional but fairly uneventful.  However, as we were leaving we happened upon a group of individuals dressed as superheroes on the Capitol steps.  So what do you do when you run into superheroes after a Superior Court argument?  Have your picture taken with them, of course!

The definition of a superhero according to Webster:

a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person

Superior Court Superheroes

Based on this definition, many of you often function as superheroes in some capacity in your life.  You also probably know, live or work with someone who behaves each and every day as a superhero.  Although she did not have a cape, mask or colorful costume, Holly’s skillful presentation at Superior Court made her a superhero for her client that day.  Continue Reading Superheroes of the Pennsylvania Superior Court

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.

The United States Golf Association (the USGA)and the Royal and Ancient Gold Club of St. Andrews (the R&A) generally write the official rules for golf for the world.  Last week, they announced sweeping proposed changes to the Rules of Golf.  I think that condominium and homeowners’ association boards can learn something from the proposed rules changes. Continue Reading What Homeowners’ Associations Can Learn from Golf

Ask yourself this question, and answer honestly: how do I feel about my business recordkeeping?

Last month I attended a presentation hosted by a friend and coworker, Dave the Tax Guy of ITP Taxes. The topic: Recordkeeping. I know, I know, sounds like a topic as enthralling as watching paint dry. But I can assure you, Dave quickly had the undivided attention of everyone in the room, as he told a harrowing story about the process of working through an audit by the IRS.  Continue Reading Improving Business Recordkeeping