Good morning!  Let’s talk a little bit about conflict of interest. Conflict of interest arises in two situations.  One is what we call successive representation.  This occurs when  I represented Bob 2 or 3 years ago and now David comes to my office and wants me to represent him because of issue that he has with Bob.  That’s a conflict of interest because I would be representing a new client suing a former client.  That’s a no‑no.  A court in that situation would determine whether or not attorney learned a secret about Bob and that will aid David in this situation.  This is what we call successive representation.

The other situation is we call multiple representation, where we present two or three or more clients in a same lawsuit.  Client always want to share cost with attorney’s fee, which is understandable, but oftentimes we find that each one has their own interest.  For example, each has a different opinion about the direction of litigation.  One might want to settle, while another wants to move forward with litigation, etc..   In this situation, if the defendant side needs to come up with the settlement, often times the defendants will point the finger at each other as to who is more at fault.  So that’s where the situation becomes sticky.

photo-arbitration-record-300x200An arbitration is an alternate dispute method that’s becoming increasingly popular and controversial. Thanks in part to that controversy Governor Brown signed into law in October a bill allowing a party to have a certified shorthand reporter transcribe any related proceedings. This may help in case a party wants to challenge the arbitration decision in court.

An arbitration is essentially a private trial.

  • A single arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators normally sit as judge and jury in the case. They are normally practicing attorneys or retired judges.

Good morning!  I was reading this article written by Gina Rikonova in the L.A. Daily Journal, and she talks about Assembly Bill 168 that was introduced earlier this year which will prohibit California employers from requesting information about a job applicant’s salary history or benefits  The spirit of the bill, according to her, is really to combat the gender disparity of pay between men and women. She also talks about how a lot of states that are moving toward this trend. Then she circles back and introduces what’s pretty much a federal court ruling for this year in April that seems to go opposite direction. That particular ruling in federal court “that federal equal pay act salary history may be considered a qualified factor other than sex so long as it effectuated some business policy and was used reasonably in light of the stated purpose as well as its other policy or practices, and the court further states that on the salary history standing alone may constitute a qualified reason for pay disparity other than sex so long as it serves a legitimate business purpose”.
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photo-LLC-law-change-225x300All good things come to an end and that could include a limited liability company or LLC. California law will change in 2017 and make it easier to dissolve and to wind up its affairs. If you’re involved in an LLC and thinking it’s run its course and time to pull the plug, depending on the circumstances, you may want to wait another couple months.

An LLC is a hybrid business entity. It’s a combination of a partnership and corporation.

  • Its main advantage over a partnership is like the shareholders of a corporation the LLC’s owners’ (members’) liability for its debts and obligations is limited to their financial investment.
  • However LLC members can participate in its management and profits or losses flow through to its members like a partnership.
  • An LLC can’t be formed for businesses that provide professional services that require a state professional license, such as a legal or a medical practice.
  • Forming an LLC is easier to form and maintain than a corporation. LLC’s don’t issue stock, are not required to hold annual meetings or keep written minutes, which a corporation must to preserve the liability protection for its owners.
  • Articles of organization must be filed with the state and LLC members must enter into an operating agreement. An oral one will suffice but a formal, written agreement is a better idea for all those involved.
  • An LLC is normally managed by its members, but they can agree to hire a manager to handle its affairs.
  • For state income tax purposes an LLC will be classified as a partnership if there is more than one owner but members can elect to have it taxed as a corporation.

Earlier this year the California legislature made minor language changes to the Revised Uniform Limited  Liability Company Act (RULLCA) and they will go into effect in January. RULLCA currently states that an LLC could be dissolved and its activities wound up if, among other things, a majority of its members voted to dissolve it. Continue reading

Good Morning.  I still can say it’s good morning even though it’s almost noon time.  I woke up early this morning and went to Torrance courthouse for a hearing. On the way back to my office, I thought about a video that I put out last month where I talked about how your attorney’s character count.

Not only does your attorney’s character count, but also your attorney’s personality, the way that they handle your matter, and how they litigate a case. All of these shape the landscape of your case; Meaning, they can affect whether or not your case is going to find resolution, whether or not your case is going to be litigated efficiently as efficient as possible, and/or whether or not your case is going to be settled within a reasonable time.

I currently have two partnership dispute cases that are in the extreme. They’re both dealing with dispute between partnerships that have a significant amount of real estate holdings.  In one case, I filed on behalf of my client against the other partner and received a call from the other attorney. The first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Hey, what does your client want?”. I told him exactly what I’m expecting and what my client wants in terms of resolving this issue. The other side’s attorney listened and we worked out a resolution plan.

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photo-InfoSpan-and-Emirates-300x199The lawsuit was filed five years ago and it took about a day for the jury to make its decision: the evidence didn’t show one of the Middle East’s most prominent banks, Emirates NBD, committed fraud and stole technology from an Irvine firm, InfoSpan, that sued it for half a billion dollars in damages after a partnership between the two collapsed.

InfoSpan claimed in a federal court lawsuit that Dubai based Emirates NBD ended a partnership to develop and implement a mobile payment system because it didn’t want to share revenue and stole InfoSpan’s technology to launch its own service, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company sought $540 million in damages.

Emirates denied it stole or ever used InfoSpan’s technology. It claimed it cancelled the partnership because InfoSpan couldn’t do what it promised to do: produce a working product. The bank also alleged InfoSpan misled it into thinking it was an established company, not one with little to no track record.

photo-China-fueled-real-estate-boom-300x225One of Lost Angeles’ biggest real estate developments is small potatoes compared to other projects the developer has worked on in China. Metropolis, a $1 billion mixed-use project next to the 110 Freeway, is unprecedented for L.A. but familiar to Winston Yan. He’s an architect and executive for the developer, Chinese real estate giant Greenland and chief technical officer for its U.S. subsidiary. He told the Los Angeles Times, he’s seen similar projects in Beijing and Shanghai.

Los Angeles is familiar territory for foreign developers but none are building like the Chinese are today. Chinese developers including Greenland, Oceanwide and Shenzhen Hazens are spending billions in the city, adding thousands of residential units in skyscrapers that are fundamentally changing the city’s skyline.

Potential residents are not necessarily locals. Many future homebuyers are expected to come from China where many are looking to the apparent safety of foreign real estate to diversify their wealth. This trend has been increased by China’s slowing economy.

photo-conflict-of-interet-boad-members-300x200Corporate board members can have a tremendous, beneficial impact on a company. If they have they company’s best interests at heart and have relevant but diverse backgrounds their input can help guide a company through tough times into much better times. That’s a difficult task if a board member has a connection to a competitor or potential competitor. Every board member has a fiduciary duty to the corporation to act in its bests interests and not use his or her access to benefit a competitor.

In the evolving world of autonomous vehicles companies that weren’t building vehicles in the past may be building them in the future. Two of those companies are Google and Uber. This summer David Drummond, the chief legal officer at Google parent Alphabet Inc., stepped down from Uber’s board of directors, citing a conflict of interest. Drummond joined Uber’s board of directors in August 2013, according to TechCrunch.

This issue has been simmering for a while. Uber’s first fleet of self-driving cars is running in Pittsburgh. The cars are modified Volvo XC90’s, co-piloted by an engineer who can take the wheel when necessary. Google is also working on its own self driving cars. A joint venture between Google and Ford enabling both to leverage their technologies with Ford’s expertise creating cars and Google’s ability to deliver software has yet to come to fruition.

photo-Platinum-Partners-fraud-300x225Investors are always looking for a good return and someone they can trust with their money. All too often that stellar return is the result of fraud and that person who was trusted with millions was lining his own pockets. The latest chapter in Wall Street’s long history of Ponzi schemes appears to be Platinum Partners. This New York hedge fund stood out for its returns that rivaled some of the biggest names in the industry, according to the New York Times.

Mark Nordlicht, a founder and the chief investment officer of Platinum, and six others face criminal charges related to an alleged $1 billion fraud. Prosecutors allege the hedge fund operated as a Ponzi scheme. If so it’s one of the biggest fraud cases since Bernard L. Madoff’s investment firm imploded in 2008.

The charges include securities fraud and investment adviser fraud, according to an unsealed indictment filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. A related civil lawsuit has been filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

photo-MetLife-Ponzi-scheme-300x225For your personal life or your business the right insurance is critical to protecting your assets. Finding the right agent who understands you and your business can make the process faster and easier. Christine Ramirez used an insurance agent to invest $280,000 and she chose the wrong one, according to a Los Angeles jury.

In September it awarded Ramirez $15.6 million after an eight week trial of a case she filed claiming MetLife and two of its affiliates swindled her out of her money due to a reported Ponzi scheme linked to a MetLife insurance agent, reports the New York Times.

  • The scheme ended up costing investors $200 million when finally it collapsed nearly ten years ago.