Photo of Matthew Landis

Our firm regularly helps guide SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon’s clients as a part of their Simple Steps to Starting a Business workshop series. Last week was my turn participating in a panel discussion alongside a community lender, an accountant, an independent insurance broker, and a SCORE mentor. One of the key topics addressed by the panel was how to get the most out of a meeting with a professional for the first time.

The consensus of the panel’s recommendations was to be prepared. As an Eagle Scout, this was music to my ears, because “Be Prepared” is the Scout Motto. Regardless of whether you’ve completed 21 merit badges, “Be Prepared” is just a good concept to live by, and if you follow it, you’ll make the most out of your meeting or initial consultation with a lawyer.

Here’s how you can “be prepared” for your first meeting with an attorney: 
Continue Reading

At the beginning of last year, I wrote one of my favorite posts about why getting a mentor should be your New Year’s resolution. In a nutshell, that article posited that we live in a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and one of the best ways to help you through it was to find a trusted advisor. In my view, an essential quality of a great mentor is knowing the limits of their expertise and working as a team with others to achieve the best result for the mentee.

This year I’ve decided to ditch the New Year’s resolution concept and implement a yearly theme, inspired by the Theme System. My 2020 theme is the Year of Teamwork. I want to focus on teamwork because I’ve found that the most rewarding relationships I’ve had are when I’ve been a part of a team, where there’s been give and take by each teammate, all working towards a common goal. These relationships lead to successful outcomes.

I’ve been part of teams for as long as I can remember: little league baseball, my Boy Scout Troop, lacrosse, my family, our firm. I’ve been a part of high performing teams, and teams that fell short of their potential. I think it’s always been my goal to be a good teammate, but sometimes it’s easy to lose focus of your individual role while you’re focusing on the bigger picture.
Continue Reading

Happy New Year from all of us at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP. As we ring in the new year, remembering to write 20 instead of 19 when writing the date isn’t the only change  to be mindful of. As of January 1, 2020, many new laws, rules, and policies have taken effect that may impact you and your business.

Here’s a summary of a few of the key changes and links to additional information for several legal changes to be mindful of in 2020:

IRS Updates Standard Mileage Rate

On December 31, the IRS announced its new standard mileage rate for 2020: 57.5 cents per mile driven for business use, down one half of a cent from the rate for 2019.

Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash

US Department of Labor’s New Overtime Rule

The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule went into effect as of January 1, which updates the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum salary thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative, or professional employees from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

The DOL estimates the changes will impact as many as 1.3 million employees. The change that will likely impact the most workers is raising the minimum salary requirement from $455 per week to $684 per week, or from $23,660 per year to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker. To learn more about the changes, check out the DOL’s press release on the final rule here.
Continue Reading

This is the final installment of a three-part series outlining the topics of discussion from our presentation to the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, October 10.

Last week, Brandon Harter and I had the pleasure of presenting to a full house of Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members at the Quarryville Library. Thank you to all who attended and we enjoyed a friendly competition and lively discussion of various ways that technology law impacts every small business in 2019.

If you were unable to attend or if you’d like a brief summary of what was discussed, here’s additional information on three of the discussion topics from the event:
Continue Reading

This is part two of a three-part series outlining the topics of discussion from our presentation to the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, October 10.

Yesterday, Brandon Harter and I had the pleasure of presenting to a full house of Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members at the Quarryville Library. Thank you to all who attended and we enjoyed a friendly competition and lively discussion of various ways that technology law impacts every small business in 2019.

If you were unable to attend or if you’d like a brief summary of what was discussed, here’s additional information on two of the discussion topics from yesterday’s event:
Continue Reading

This is part one of a three-part series outlining the topics of discussion from our presentation to the Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce.

This morning, Brandon Harter and I had the pleasure of presenting to a full house of Southern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce members at the Quarryville Library. Thank you to all who attended and we enjoyed a friendly competition and lively discussion of various ways that technology law impacts every small business in 2019.

If you were unable to attend or if you’d like a brief summary of what was discussed, here’s additional information on two of the discussion topics from this morning’s event:
Continue Reading

Advertising and other commercial activities happen in an instant on social media. Are you covering your bases legally when posting photos of individuals or groups on your company social media accounts?

State law governs when you can use a person’s name or likeness for commercial or advertising purposes – this is commonly referred to right of publicity or right of privacy depending on the context and legal status in the jurisdiction.

In Pennsylvania, there is a somewhat complicated legal framework comprised of both statutes and case law that governs right of privacy and right of publicity.
Continue Reading

Are you thinking about investing in Pennsylvania real estate? If so, forming a Pennsylvania limited liability company (LLC) has numerous benefits that will save you time and money in the future.

Here are the top five reasons why the LLC has become the entity of choice for investment real estate ownership in Pennsylvania:

  1. Realty transfer tax implications and timing

If you plan on owning real estate in an LLC, timing is critical to avoid paying Pennsylvania’s realty transfer tax more than once. Realty transfer tax in Pennsylvania is 2% of the value of the real estate.

You should form the LLC prior to signing the agreement of sale, and the party entering into the agreement of sale should be the LLC, not one or more of the individuals’ names. The reason for this is that Pennsylvania’s realty transfer tax law provides that a taxable event includes an assignment of an agreement of sale, which would trigger transfer tax twice.

Further, if you buy the real estate in your individual name and later wish to transfer the property into an LLC that is owned by you, you would also be required to pay realty transfer tax on that transfer.

Creating an LLC from the outset would avoid paying more tax than you are legally required to pay under the above two common scenarios.

  1. Limited liability protection for owners of the LLC

The owners (known as members) of an LLC enjoy limited liability for the debts and obligations of the LLC and the negligent acts of other members. A member’s liability is limited to the amount of his or her investment in the LLC, and their personal assets would be protected in the event causing liability.
Continue Reading

What do recent headlines about tattoos, video games, and my favorite Katy Perry song have in common? The articles contain interesting lessons from the always complicated, but never dull (to me) world of intellectual property law. Let’s dive in:

Athletes Don’t Own Their Tattoos. That’s a Problem for Video Game Developers (The New York Times)