General News Blog

General News Blog

Welcome to the general news blog of Atlanta, Georgia law firm Brownstein & Nguyen. On this page, we provide information & news concerning various legal topics, issues and events. We hope it is informative and helpful.

The information and opinions provided on this page are not legal advice. Please consult with an attorney to discuss your legal issue.

How to Protect Yourself When Doing Business with Family

There are numerous legal hurdles associated with startups. Many entrepreneurs lack the legal knowledge or counsel to successfully navigate the most common pitfalls, especially when it comes to their blind spots: friends and family. Involving friends and family members in a new business venture can give it the financial boost needed to succeed, but it can also cause legal problems down the line. Are you covering the legal bases to protect your business and preserve relationships down the road?

Co-Founding a Business with Family and Friends

business agreementWhen working with people they know, many entrepreneurs skip the appropriate contracts and agreements, instead choosing to rely on personal feelings and blind trust to protect the company. (“Joe would never do anything to hurt me. We are family, and will always look out for each other.”) But when there’s no written contract or legal agreement, it’s easy for bad blood to arise. When co-founding a business with friends or family members, make sure you determine in writing:

  • The long term goals of the business and how those will be achieved
  • The roles/responsibilities of each founder for the business
  • The expectations for each founder’s investment of time and capital (upfront and later)
  • Starting salaries and how you will determine raises (both for partners and for future employees)
  • The process of making key decisions
  • What percentage of the company each founder will own, and whether that percentage is subject to change
  • What steps to take if one business partner isn’t investing time or resources according to expectations
  • How to approach the sale of the company
  • Steps to take in case of legal disputes

Raising Startup Capital

Entrepreneurs often turn to the people closest to them when raising funds to start a business. Family and friends are an easy source of funding, but there are numerous pitfalls associated with raising startup capital from people in your inner circle.

  • 90% of new companies fail during the financing stage, and 60% after receiving financing. Many entrepreneurs don’t appropriately convey the downfalls when seeking funding from family and friends.
  • Many people aren’t knowledgeable enough to determine if they’re making a good investment or a bad investment, and a familial connection muddies these waters. Entrepreneurs should take care not to fall into the trap of over-valuation of stock.
  • During the financing stage, many businesses don’t have set governance or corporate structure to determine how they’ll use the raised capital.

Entrepreneurs often fall into another pitfall when seeking funding from family and friends: ignoring legal requirements. The sale of stock, LLC interests, and limited partnership interests are subject to securities laws and other legal requirements. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in hefty fines, even if the company has foundered. Before selling stock to family and friends, entrepreneurs should:

  • Comply with federal and state regulations for disclosure, filing, and form requirements.
  • Fully understand any exemptions (e.g. private issuer exemptions, business associates exemptions, accredited investor exemptions, etc).
  • Report all exemptions appropriately and within the required time period.

Avoid the potential pitfalls of starting a business by seeking legal counsel from Brownstein & Nguyen LLC.

Business Agreement

Current Statistics on Vietnamese Immigration

Vietnamese immigration has been steadily increasing in the US since the end of the Vietnam War, when a wave of refugees began seeking residence in America. In 1980, 231,000 Vietnamese immigrants resided in the United States; by 2014, that number had increased to roughly 1.3 million. The United States receives over 80% more immigrants from Vietnam than any other country, and 3% of the overall lawful permanent residents in the US are from Vietnam, making Vietnamese immigrants the sixth largest immigrant population in the country.

Emigrating to the United States

vietnamese immigrantAt Brownstein & Nguyen LLC, we handle worldwide immigration cases, helping migrants from various economic, social, and cultural backgrounds find new homes in the United States. Our practice has helped people relocate to the US from Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan, Morocco, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, Denmark, China, Brazil, Columbia, the United Kingdom, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Italy, Kenya, Israel, and a variety of other countries. Many of our Vietnamese immigrant clients enter the US with green cards sponsored by family members who are citizens or lawful permanent residents. Others obtain temporary visas so that they can work or attend school while awaiting the resolution of their permanent residency petition. As a whole, lawful Vietnamese immigrants have higher incomes and lower poverty rates than other foreign-born US residents.

Vietnamese Immigrants in America

America is a land of opportunity, and our law offices have helped Vietnamese immigrants permanently relocate to all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and even to US territory in the North Pole. California draws the largest percentage of Vietnamese green card holders, with almost 40% of immigrants relocating there. Atlanta, Georgia has the 9th densest population of Vietnamese immigrants of U.S. metropolitan areas. Approximately 29,000 Vietnamese immigrants have relocated from Vietnam to Atlanta or the nearby suburban areas of Sandy Springs and Roswell. A recent overview of the Vietnamese immigrant population by The Migration Institute found that, overall, Vietnamese immigrants to the US were:

  • 17% less likely than other foreign immigrants to be proficient at English
  • Older than native and foreign-born populations in the US with an average age of 47
  • 4% less likely to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree or higher by age 25 than other foreign-born residents, and 5% less likely to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree or higher than native US residents
  • More likely to participate in the civilian labor force than native-born citizens or other immigrants
  • Earners of higher incomes than other members of the population, with a median household income of $59,933 (as of 2014)
  • 5% less likely to live in poverty than other immigrants and 1% less likely to live in poverty than native-born US citizens
  • 29% more likely than the overall US immigrant population to become naturalized citizens

Are you a Vietnamese citizen seeking a US green card or visa? Contact Brownstein & Nguyen law offices to handle your immigration case.

Vietnamese Woman

Who Is Affected by the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Immigration Reform?

This June the Supreme Court reached a ruling on President Obama’s immigration plan. The Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) executive order proposed a temporary reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who have resided in the United States since 2010 and have a child who is a citizen or a lawful permanent resident. The executive order also expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, broadening the scope of immigrant children eligible for relief. On June 23, 2016 the Supreme Court reached a 4-4 deadlock, effectively blocking Obama’s executive order by leaving in place a decision of the lower federal appeals court.

What the Supreme Court’s Decision Means for Immigrants

immigration reform rallyThe Supreme Court’s ruling affects as many as 5 million immigrants currently residing in the U.S. Undocumented immigrants whose legal status hung in the balance are now unable to seek relief from deportation. According to the Migration Policy Institute, 3.6 million people living in the U.S. are undocumented parents of underaged legal permanent residents or U.S. citizens. In all, approximately 10 million people, including legal immigrants, undocumented immigrants, and lawful citizens, live in households affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. In addition to providing temporary relief from deportation for parents of lawful residents, the plan proposed expanded deferred action for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children, but were not eligible for relief under a 2012 executive action. Immigrants protected by the 2012 action are not affected by the 2016 Supreme Court ruling.

Are You Affected by Obama’s Blocked Immigration Plan?

The proposed DAPA/DACA+ policy contained specific parameters for granting relief from deportation. To qualify for President Obama’s proposed DAPA plan, immigrants would have needed to:

  • Have a child born in the US before November 21, 2014
  • Have permanently resided in the US since January 1, 2010
  • Pay taxes (or be willing to pay taxes)
  • Have committed no significant crime or posed any threat to US National Security

To qualify for the DACA+, immigrants must have:

  • Been a child brought to the US illegally before January 1, 2010
  • Have resided in the US before their 16th birthdays
  • Been in school, have graduated or earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military
  • Have committed no significant crime or posed any threat to US National Security

The President’s executive orders would have made it possible for qualifying immigrants to seek a reprieve from deportation, as well as legally authorizing undocumented immigrants to work as long as they paid taxes. The Supreme Court decision leaves the fate of millions of immigrants up in the air, with no clear legislative or executive plan to allow them to continue to stay in our country, contribute to our economy, and pay their fair share of taxes.

The attorneys of Brownstein & Nguyen law offices have decades of experience dealing with complicated immigration cases. For legal advice or assistance on immigration law in Atlanta, please contact our offices.

Immigration Rally

I’m Starting a Business. Do I Need a Lawyer?

In the world of business law, knowing when legal help is prudent or necessary is a common inquiry. Whether working in a large corporation, as a small business owner, launching a start-up, or in the role of entrepreneur, obtaining timely legal support on important business matters is critical. While qualified legal help is necessary in many situations, however, there are tasks that may be completed without the assistance of an attorney.

Atlanta business lawOne example is found at the beginning of starting a business. A lawyer is not typically necessary when obtaining a business license for a sole proprietorship or registering a business trade name. This early step in forming a business usually is handled at the local level. For example, businesses and individuals located within unincorporated Fulton County wishing to acquire a business license may do so through the business license office. However, if they or their business are within the city limits of one of a municipality such as Roswell, Alpharetta, or Sandy Springs, then the business license or trade name must be obtained through the municipality.

While registering obtaining an initial business license may be done without a lawyer, there are many other situations in which obtaining confident and experienced legal support is recommended and necessary. Some of these instances include:

  • In hiring employees, making sure that employment policies are lawful and properly documented and employee contracts are accurate, viable legal documents that spell out the terms of employment, grounds for termination, and protect the business’ trade secrets, customer lists, and other confidential information  
  • Legally establishing a partnership, corporation, or LLC with all necessary organizational documents and agreements in place that set out the parties’ rights and obligations, including in the event of a major business disagreement or dissolution
  • Avoiding liability and assessing business risks for various issues including contract disputes, intellectual property claims, or business torts in instances such as a trade name likeness, slander, or violation of trade secrets
  • Any other situation in which business counsel or representation may be needed

In the event that you or your business are in need of legal support you can count on, contact Brownstein & Nguyen. Our experience speaks for itself when it comes to offering sound legal advice and representation to allow your business to grow and avoid or mitigate legal problems. When a dispute does arise, we bring decades of experience, practical wisdom, and expertise to the table in making sure your interests are fully represented.

3 Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

While it may seem second nature to most of us, driving a vehicle is actually a very complex task that requires high-level processing of scores of variables and voluminous bits of information in real-time. Unfortunately, to compound this complexity the modern driver is exposed to a multitude of distractions. Given the age of immediate personal communication we live in, it is no surprise that the number of serious automobile traffic incidents is on the rise. Here are three tips for driving distraction-free, or at least reducing the number of distractions and focusing our attention on the road and surroundings:

Put the Cell Phone AwayDriving Distracted

Numerous studies have proven a causal link between mobile phones and distracted driving. There are very few issues that require a driver to use a phone while driving, and even emergency calls are often not true emergencies. If you must answer the phone, pull over to the side of the road or into a parking lot. When stopped in a safe place, answer the phone or call the person back. Better yet, most mobile phones and carriers now offer “driving mode” utilities or apps which prevent voice calls and texts from ringing (or announcing) on your phone and inform the caller you are driving and will respond later. This safety feature removes entirely the temptation to answer a call or respond to a text while driving. In addition, many states and localities have passed laws requiring hands-free mobile phone usage or entirely banning the use of mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. These laws are meant to protect us, and should be followed.

Keep Passenger and Inside Distractions to a Minimum

Nothing is more distracting than talkative or unruly passengers. Babies, toddlers, and young children may distract a driver by throwing things, screaming, yelling, or simply making noise that makes a driver to take their eyes and attention off the road. Establish early on with young children (when they are old enough to understand), and adults as well, that no one should distract the driver of a car. This is particularly important with young adults and young adolescents, including especially teenagers who are learning to drive or have friends who recently received their licenses. Also, try to avoid lengthy conversations with passengers while driving. Research has shown the “simple” act of engaging in a conversation is not simple at all, and actually diminishes our ability to timely process data, make good decisions, and quickly react to sudden emergencies and situations arising in a split second. Finally, loud music and even books on tape can be distracting. Anything that allows our minds to wander, taking them from the serious task at hand – safely operating a 1.5 or 2+ ton machine at speeds that can maim or kill – is potentially hazardous.  

Avoid Food Consumption While Driving

Using one hand to eat or handle food and drinks while driving means one less hand on the steering wheel. Should you happen to drop food or spill liquid on your clothes, you’re more than likely to avert your eyes from the road and look down to check for damage. Don’t take that risk. All it takes is a moment for a driver’s eyes to be diverted and suddenly expose everyone in your vehicle (and others on the road) to a serious, possibly deadly, mistake. Eat and drink only while parked to avoid food-related distractions while driving.

Brownstein & Nguyen has assisted numerous individuals in the aftermath of avoidable car accidents. However, don’t become a statistic (or client) in the first place. Follow the above tips, and always put safety first.

2016 and Nursing Home Negligence

Having to place a loved one in a nursing home is one of the toughest decisions a family will ever make. While most nursing homes provide excellent care to residents, unfortunately mistakes and poor care resulting in nursing home negligence are far too prevalent. It’s important for families to do their due diligence when choosing a nursing home, even when circumstances arise requiring that placement must be done quickly.

Consider What Care is Needednursing home atlanta

What type and scope of care will a loved one need? Do they need assistance with daily living activities such as personal hygiene, mobility, eating, dressing, etc.? Are there special medical issues or conditions involved that require specialized medical care? Are there memory issues or some level of dementia that require a different expertise and setting? Individual needs and the type of skilled care offered by a facility are key factors in the selection process.

Ask People You Trust

If nursing home placement is imminent after a hospital stay, consult with the hospital’s social worker to get recommendations for appropriate facilities. Also talk to family physicians, trusted friends or family members to create a list of recommended facilities. Then go online and research the facilities, checking for complaints, patient reviews and the like. Also look for information provided by government agencies and third parties such as Medicare’s nursing home compare tool and third party websites like this one which compiles complaints, safety inspections and violations maintained by state agencies.

Contact Nursing Homes

Call facilities on the list and ask questions of each one. Find out exactly what skilled services are offered, staffing and patient-to-staff ratios, costs, whether there’s a waiting list, and other pertinent information for the decision process. Then, schedule an appointment to visit and meet with the director and nursing director in person. There is no substitute for first-hand observation to get a better sense of a facility and the people who will be cared for your loved one.

Ask Questions

While visiting a facility, ask questions about their Medicare and Medicaid certification. Take notice of whether the residents look well cared for, and how they are treated by staff. How responsive is the staff – are resident calls for assistance promptly answered? How do staff members talk to residents: with respect, disinterest, or worse, disdain? Be aware of bad odors or heavy chemical smells such as ammonia, poor maintenance, and general signs of lack of cleanliness. Observe a typical meal, including nutrition content, appearance and appeal of the food, and whether hot meals are timely served. Introduce yourself to staff members to get a feel for their demeanor, attitude towards family members, and manner when dealing with residents. These and other indicators can help identify signs of nursing home neglect or negligence. In short, do whatever you can to determine if a facility gives you confidence that your loved one will get the best possible care under the circumstances.

Make Unscheduled Visit

Before making a final decision on a facility for your loved one, if possible make one more visit – this time unscheduled. Arrive on a different day and observe another shift and staff from your scheduled visit.

Of course, your vigilance does not end after a loved one is placed in a facility. If you suspect your loved one is a victim of nursing home negligence, abuse or neglect, contact the law offices of Brownstein & Nguyen. We are experienced in helping families and their loved ones fight elder abuse.

Business Law and New Year’s Resolutions

Procrastination can be a deadly habit and it is so easy to slip into, especially for small business owners and partnerships. The lack of an immediate need or pressure to address brewing and potential future legal problems means that all of the impetus for action must come from business owners themselves. So, rather than procrastinate, here are a few tips to get a jump-start for 2016.

New Year's ResolutionsFor your New Years’ business resolution, be proactive and anticipate legal problems both within and without your business. Proactively confront personality clashes among your partners. Be honest about the differences in management style, business goals, and financial philosophies. A partnership is best run by a balance of personalities, not by the dominance of one.

If your business involves customer data, take a hard look at cyber-security. It seems like 2015 was the year of the data breach, from BlueCross/BlueShield to Ashley Madison to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, data breaches were everywhere. Educate employees on proper email, internet and cloud storage usage and security measures. The last thing your business needs is the economic loss of a data breach and inevitable lawsuits that follow.

If your business is open to the public (restaurant, retail store, etc.), another issue to consider is investing in an ADA-compliant infrastructure. Disability compliance lawsuits are one of the easiest to avoid. Also, don’t forget to invest in your digital and other intellectual properties.

Aside from these and other business issues that can result in costly legal issues, one of the most important and often-overlooked traps for business owners is failing to plan for potential break-ups. If you do not already have one, come up with a “business divorce” plan. No one likes to think about it, but partnerships do fall apart. It is far cheaper and more efficient if rights and obligations of shareholders and business partners are established before an event of dissolution. Don’t just consider capital contributions, assets and liabilities: take note of clients; employees and personnel matters; technology, trade secrets and other intellectual property; goodwill; and business continuation.

Many businesses fail because of a dispute among partners that might have been prevented or at least mitigated with proper planning. Make 2016 the year you build a sturdier foundation for your company for the future.

A key element of proactively running a business of any size is having experienced legal counsel available. Contact Atlanta business law attorney Jay Brownstein at Brownstein & Nguyen for sound, practical business advice and legal representation.

What is Business Divorce?

When business partnerships have run their course, it might be time for a business divorce. Similar to the end of a marriage, a business divorce involves taking into consideration the assets and debts of a company, determining how to distribute them, and legally severing the relationship between small business owners.

Reasons for Business DivorceBusiness Divorce Atlanta

Many events can trigger the need for a business divorce. Partnerships may dissolve because partners no longer share the same goals and expectations for the business. Small business owners may begin new ventures or start to pull away from the business. A poor business model or financial problems may also lead to a business divorce. When partnerships can no longer be maintained, there may be little choice but to sever the legal relationship between partners and dissolve the business.

Issues Involved in Business Divorce

When a business must be dissolved, there are often several major issues that must be addressed. Business debs, including legal and tax liabilities, must be dealt with. Partners may disagree on the prioritization of certain debts and current obligations to lenders. Underlying problems that contributed to financial difficulty may need to be identified and rectified. Long-term liabilities such as leases must be addressed, as well as contingent or future liabilities such as personal guaranties of the partners. Other common issues include how to deal with the termination of employees and whether owners will be permitted to operate a new or successor business within the same industry.

Legal Rights and Obligations

Well-prepared business owners obtain legal assistance at the start of new business venture, including the preparation and execution of a shareholder, operating or partnership agreement that includes provisions regarding future dissolution of the partnership or company and winding up the affairs of the business. Absent such an agreement, the rights and obligations of small business owners are established by state statutes and applicable case law. In either event, it is important to consult with qualified business counsel as soon as a disagreement or possible event of dissolution occurs.

For legal guidance and assistance when dealing with a business divorce, contact the experienced partnership and shareholder dispute attorneys at the Atlanta law offices of Brownstein & Nguyen.

Common Myths Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease

DisagreementWhile National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month has come and gone, it is important to consider that Alzheimer’s affects almost 1 person per every 2 families. Even though the disease is so widespread, most people don’t know the facts about Alzheimer’s and how it can affect you and your elderly family members.

Myth 1: Memory Loss is Part of a Normal Aging Process

One of the myths that most people hold is that memory loss is part of a normal aging process. This is factually and medically wrong. Alzheimer’s follows a 14 year progression from the onset of initial signs until death. However, most people are diagnosed with the disease at a very late stage. This is because many elderly are afraid of being stigmatized and choose to keep quiet until memory loss severely affects their daily lives.

Myth 2: Alzheimer’s Cannot be Treated

Another common myth is that Alzheimer’s cannot be treated. While it is true that there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, that does not mean there is no treatment available. There are modern and conventional medical treatments that can be effective in combating the disease. Generally, early treatment is necessary to prevent further brain damage and deterioration. Most people believe that any treatment short of cure is not an effective method. However, many suffering from this condition can lead a quality life with early diagnosis and proper treatment.

An important thing to remember is that a healthy heart and body is equal to a healthy brain. Many physicians have agreed that the brain is closely related to the heart. This explains why individuals with high blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity risk experiencing cognitive decline.

It is important to be aware of the legal rights of the elderly when it comes to elder care. If you or a loved one are dealing with issues due to memory or other long-term care associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and long-term care, contact Brownstein & Nguyen for legal support.

Immigration and Holiday Traditions

With the arrival of the holiday season, many people are gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. One thing about living in the United States – there is no one single way to celebrate a holiday. Many families integrate different customs that have roots in their native countries as they celebrate the holidays. Since the pilgrims first arrived and countless others emigrated to this country from around the world, there has always been a connection between immigration and holiday traditions.

Origins of Thanksgiving

To celebrate their first successful corn harvest, the Pilgrims held a feast to celebrate with their Native American friends. This feast became known as the first Thanksgiving in America. However, the origin of celebrating a successful harvest has roots in ancient civilizations, such as those of the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians who often paid tribute to their deities. The concept of Thanksgiving also bears a striking resemblance to the Jewish harvest festival known as Sukkot.

Origins of Christmas TraditionsImmigration

Up until the 19th century, Christmas was not really celebrated in the United States because the holiday had been outlawed by the pilgrims. However, the holiday’s popularity grew with an influx of German immigrants during the 1800s. While Christmas is known as a Christian holiday, many of the customs celebrated today come from pagan roots that originated in Germany. The holiday was originally intended to celebrate the winter solstice. Customs such as Christmas trees, caroling, exchanging gifts, gingerbread houses and good old Saint Nick are a result of German influence.

When it comes to family immigration, contact the Atlanta immigration law offices of Brownstein & Nguyen for assistance. While celebrating the holidays this year, think about how immigration and holiday traditions have an impact on how you celebrate. It is a great way to honor your heritage.