Happy Holidays From Our Family To Yours

At Brannon Sowers Cracraft, we are grateful for a productive year that has allowed us to grow our team and continue serving our clients with skill and integrity. We celebrated our accomplishments  by letting our hair down with our team with a festive shindig at The Speak Easy’s  new downtown location, with food by Nameless Catering. From our family to yours, we wish you peach, health and prosperity in 2017. It is time to look ahead to another great year.

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FB Messenger and the death of the telephone

Do you still shudder when a client sends you a work-related message on Facebook? Yeah, us too. It is probably time to come to terms with professional communication happening less on the telephone and more frequently on social media.

As a new generation of workforce leaders emerges and dovetails with social media and tech innovation, exponential change in communication trends is afoot. It is looking more and more like the telephone may go the way of horse and buggy and carrier pigeon.

Large organizations are making big changes as a result. After seeing the data in 2015, JP Morgan Chase eliminated 65% of their employee voicemail accounts (upon request) as part of sweeping money-saving strategies across the enterprise. They saved 3.2M in the process.

How does all of this affect the legal industry? Jordan Schuetzle of FindLaw.com reports in his recent article (Millennials, Boomers and Law Firms – Oh My!):

It’s looking like the era of the telephone is finally coming to an end. Today’s youngest adults show far less affinity for traditional communication channels, preferring Internet/Web Chat and Social Media at twice the level of telephone calls.

This graphic illustrates the generational trends. For a full report on KPCB’s Internet Trends, see Mark Meeker’s full presentation here.

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The legal industry will likely be on the tail-end of this change, but certainly not immune. According to the 2015 U.S. Consumer Legal Needs Survey (FindLaw), the largest segment of clients is comprised of Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.  Unsurprisingly, they still prefer the good old telephone. The second largest client segment, however, is made up of 18-34 year olds. This group places the telephone squarely at the bottom of their preference list. A shift is coming, and it is advisable for the legal world to open up to post-telephonic communication as clients increasingly become more tech-savvy.

What will largely replace the telephone for primary client communications? Will it be Facebook Messenger, texting, or another existing technology? Perhaps it will be a new technology we have not yet seen. Though the legal industry may still trend behind the curve, the next big thing in communication will certainly be something that warrants attention. Until then, the next time a client messages you on social media for something work-related, take a deep breath. Then pay them a compliment. They are, indeed,  on the front end of the trend.

What Should Be in Your Startup Prenup

Starting a company or entering into a new partnership? While a handshake or conversation over drinks is a common start, putting it in writing is essential to building a solid foundation. Ask any attorney why, and prepare to be regaled with grizzly tales of agreements gone wrong.  Serial entrepreneur Jim Price, in his  article “Why I Always Tell Co-Founders To Sign A Prenup,” explains what a thoughtfully structured agreement can do for a business.

As with a marital prenup, negotiating such an agreement disciplines you as partners – at the beginning while you’re good friends and enthralled with your startup – to reason through what should happen if the partnership doesn’t hold together as planned.  It’s a healthy thing to do.  And if you design your prenup intelligently, you don’t have to anticipate every eventuality; you simply need to set up a thoughtful framework.

While it has become trendy to refer to startup agreements ‘prenups,’ the basic premise remains unchanged. What should be included in this all-important document?

George Khouri, Esq sums it up nicely in a recent article with the recommendation to address what he calls ‘The Big Three: Cash In, Cash Out, and Equity.’

The Big 3: Cash In, Cash Out, and Equity

If you are founding a startup, the three biggest questions you and your co-founders must address are:

  • Who is putting the money in, and how do they get their money back?
  • Who gets to pull money out, and how much can they pull out, and when?
  • How much equity does everyone get, and when do they get it?

Also crucial is planning for failure. It may not be a popular or heartwarming thought when planning a new venture, but it must be discussed. Plan to succeed but prepare for the worst, and make sure all stakeholders are on the same page. How does a partner exit by choice?  What is the protocol to oust a  partner who isn’t contributing appropriately? Planning for unforeseeable circumstances, such as death or a longterm illness, is also key.

Protecting your ideas, products, and brand is part of protecting the partnership. Depending on the nature of your business and industry, consider the pertinence of non-complete, confidentiality and invention assignment clauses.

It is not possible to plan for every scenario. As even seasoned entrepreneurs understand, you don’t know what you don’t know. In this case, though, it is unimportant. A well-crafted agreement can ensure that partnerships and friendships can remain in tact no matter what business may encounter down the road.

 

NOTE: If we can help you with business formation, email our professionals here.

It’s Official (again), Bitcoin Is Money

Bitcoin has been shrouded in mystery – and the subject of endless discussion – since it was a twinkle in Satoshi Nakamoto’s eye in 2007. According to legend, Nakamoto, on record as living in Japan, may in fact be a collective pseudonym for more than one person. That’s just the beginning. For more on the fascinating history of Bitcoin, click here.

How does Bitcoin work? This brief video is as good as it gets for learning about the first truly decentralized currency in our lifetime.

Want to dig deeper? Marco Santori is a New York attorney specializing in virtual currency. We recommend subscribing to his podcast, The Lawyerist, if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of this space.

Podcast #14: Marco Santori on What Lawyers Should Know About Bitcoin

Why is this relevant now? Monday, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ruled that Bitcoin is money, according to an article by Jonathan Stempel. 

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan rejected a bid by Anthony Murgio to dismiss two charges related to his alleged operation of Coin.mx, which prosecutors have called an unlicensed bitcoin exchange.

Murgio had argued that bitcoin did not qualify as “funds” under the federal law prohibiting the operation of unlicensed money transmitting businesses.

But the judge, like her colleague Jed Rakoff in an unrelated 2014 case, said the virtual currency met that definition.

(Click here to continue to full article.)

This comes after  a decidedly different decision in Miami in July. Tech circles paid close attention to the ruling of Florida v. Espinoza, where it was decided that Bitcoin is not money, at least not yet, and the currency still has “a long way to go.”

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler ruled that Bitcoin was not backed by any government or bank, and was not “tangible wealth” and “cannot be hidden under a mattress like cash and gold bars.” Click here for the full article.

I guess we will all have to stay tuned. For now, Bitcoin is legitimized (again).