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Archive for May, 2012

Why the hell would you open a brewery?

May 30, 2012 5 comments

Quick note: This week’s entry is a guest post from Chris Creech at Fortnight Brewing in Raleigh/Durham. Chris and his team are a great group of people and blazing a path toward opening the newest brewery in the area. They’re focused on English inspired beers and are constantly out in the community working toward their goal of bettering the local beer culture.

Meet the team

(L to R) Mo Mercado, David Wilkinson, Stuart Arnold, and Chris Creech

Why the hell would you open a brewery?

-Chris Creech

I have heard that question, often phrased a little less bluntly, a lot over the past few months.  And to be honest, it was a while before I really sat down and thought about the actual answer to the question.

At first, I just said, “Well, I’ve been brewing beer for a while – I enjoy it and I think the beer is pretty good, and I’ve been given a great opportunity, so we’re going for it.”

While that is all true, it doesn’t really answer the core of the question.  Why are so many people quitting their good day jobs to open a small business to produce beer – a highly regulated product with razor-slim profit margins?

Passion.

The craft beer industry is an industry of passion.  There are so many great people involved in the production, distribution, selling and promotion of craft beer, and they all have one thing in common – passion.  It’s a passion for a unique product, a passion for the fellowship and community that beer promotes, and a passion for sharing their passion with others.

Sure, there are some super-stars in the beer industry, from Jim Koch (Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams) to Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Brewery), but for the most part, you don’t brew beer for fame or fortune.  Most of us will spend long hours brewing beer, and then spend our nights and weekends selling and promoting our beer at bars, restaurants, festivals and events.  And what’s the pay-off?  It’s not often a huge paycheck, but it comes back to that passion.

Not only are the people involved with the supply-side of beer passionate about it – the beer consumers are also passionate, and it is their passion that drives us.

As the interest in craft beer grows, more and more folks are becoming craft and local beer enthusiasts.  And when you can hand someone a beer, or see them ordering your beer at a bar or restaurant, and see, hear and feel their reaction to your creation, it is a fantastic moment.  To then see these people become passionate about your product, becoming ambassadors for what you’re doing, gives you great pride and sense of accomplishment.  That is the pay-off, and that passion is why we are opening a brewery.

So, if you are as passionate as I am about craft and local beer, then I would encourage you all to continue to drink local, support your local breweries, and keep an eye out for some great new breweries coming to NC in the near future, including Fortnight Brewing Company.

Legal Basics: How the System Works

Immigration Reform Leaders Arrested 2

Not a great pic for this post, but I love his t-shirt.

Ok boys and girls, today’s topic is one of my favorites:  “How the System Works” or “TV is not real.”

Let’s start with a hypothetical: you’re arrested for a misdemeanor offense, like DUI. Btw – check out my friend’s website for what you should do when you’re stopped for DUI

Do they have to handcuff you? Well, not necessarily. It’s standard procedure and they should do it unless the officer has a reason to believe handcuffs are not necessary or would cause harm to the person being arrested. For example, if you’re being arrested following an accident where your wrists were treated or injured, a note form the attending physician may be enough for you not to be cuffed. OF COURSE, they’re going to restrain you with handcuffs, chains, zip-ties, whatever, if you’re resisting or the officer(s) have reason to believe that you’ll hurt yourself or someone else.

They have to “read you your rights” when you’re cuffed right? Well, not necessarily. When you’re handcuffed, you’re not necessarily arrested. You might just be being “detained.” Even when you’re arrested, they don’t have to necessarily advise you of your rights right then. They don’t even need to tell you what you’re charged with – right then. You have a right to know what you’re charged with, but it is not necessarily an immediate thing – down at the police station may be fine. Oh, if you’re arrested, they have to advise you before they question you IF they want to use any thing you say during the questioning against you in court. Just because they can’t use it in court, doesn’t mean that they can’t use it. What you say – even when they can’t use it in court – may give them probable cause to, for example, add another charge, get a search warrant, charge someone else, etc.

I have the right to remain silent. All I’m gonna do is sit there. Well, not necessarily. According to a recent US Supreme Court case, you have to give the officers objective reason to believe that you’re invoking your right to remain silent. Either you need to say “I’m invoking my right to remain silent,” or somehow let them know that’s what you’re doing. Otherwise, SCOTUS says, NOT saying something may be construed as an answer to a question or a statement. How many of us have teenagers that don’t need to say anything to give us an answer? (typically an ill-advised one).

I have a right to a lawyer. Well, not necessarily. Only defendants with charges which carry a potential sentence of active jail time (and only over a certain threshold) have a right to counsel. Oh, and, just because you have a right to an attorney doesn’t mean its free. If you’re convicted, you still have to pay the attorney’s fees. Bummer.

Tune in for more “myths debunked” next time. Next time we’ll talk about bail!

In the meantime, check out our website at www.jslawcenter.com. Thanks!

Debtor/Creditor – Collecting on Debts – The Bad

May 17, 2012 1 comment
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (soundtrack)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part 1 of a series focusing on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Debt Collection.

Ok. I was going to write this post later in the week, but I keep seeing so much information and so many “what not to do” examples of debt collection that I feel *someone* is trying to tell me something.

So, here’s the deal:

#1: Television is not real. I know this is a difficult concept for some people, but even “reality tv” is not real. Shows like Repo Men, Lizard Lick Towing, etc. that show people slugging it out to save their car from being repossessed aren’t real. I’m not saying that they don’t happen, they do. What I’m saying is that the law penalizes people who “disturb the peace” for “self help repossession.” Federal and State law both prohibit violence to recover property and can impose stiff fines on bad actors for each occurrence. Sure, it makes good TV, but it’s not a great way to stay in business.

#2:  The debtor has a lot of protection under the law. Opportunities to dispute the credit, prohibition of harassing conduct, and (potentially) discharge under bankruptcy. If you’re in debt, read through the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). If you’re the creditor READ the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and your state equivalent (if it exists). The creditor has to jump through some non-trivial hoops to collect on debts and if you don’t, you face severe fines for each occurrence (that is, let’s say you’re a creditor/collector and have made harassing phone calls – you can get fine $1000 PER PHONE CALL). That quickly makes the debt less attractive to collect.

#3: Realize that once debts are sold or “given over to collections” (in some cases), the collectors are incentivized to collect, regardless of the hardship on the debtor. Here’s an article on one extreme situation. Several debt collection organizations say that “they work with the debtor to get their finances on track and work out a realistic payment plan.” Often, in reality, this means that they work with debtors to prioritize the debt they’re trying to collect over items such as food, rent, or basic necessities (like internet!).

If you’re in debt and are receiving debt collection notices, or if you’re a small business trying to collect on a debt, see an attorney with debt collection experience. It can save a lot of headache, money, and time for everyone.

Beer People Give Back

May 14, 2012 2 comments

OK, here’s a free bonus post!

It’s been a week+ since then, but I have to tell you about a recent event I attended. It’s really just an example of many events and something that I really LOVE about the Craft Beer Culture.

I attended Casks for a Cure at Rockfish Grill in Durham, NC on May 6. What a great event! Breweries donated casks of beer to the event and proceeds went to Pints for Prostates. Here’s the *really* cool thing about this particular event: all the breweries in attendance haven’t officially opened yet! These were all breweries in planning and all in NC. How great is that? The event featured Four Saints Brewing Company, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Steel String Brewery, Fortnight Brewing, Deep River Brewing Company, and Sub Noir brewing Company. All the beer was really great with a couple true shining stars. The breweries also collaborated on a cask of Breakfast IPA that was available as well. If “breakfast IPA” doesn’t sound good… well two things: (1) you haven’t had enough to drink and (2) more for me! The event raised $9300 $2500 for Pints for Prostates. (*Thanks to Chris Creech for double checking my numbers!)

That event was terrific, but is just one of the many, MANY such events around the state and around the country that craft breweries are hosting on an almost daily basis.

Every craft beer person, especially brewers, that I talk to – without exception (so far) – really believes in giving back to the community, to the world sometimes. Whether its Sam AdamsBrewing The American Dream or Sweetwater Brewing helping out the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers, craft beer has an unwritten mission to make the world a better place and not just a better place for beer (that’s just a side benefit). It’s great to see an entire industry embracing the moral need to do good, have a good time, and make a difference.

Starting a Business: Inc v LLC

May 14, 2012 2 comments
IRS building on Constitution Avenue in Washing...

IRS building on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PC, PA, LLC, LLP, Inc, LLLP, huh? There are so many acronyms and they’re thrown around all willy-nilly. What’s an aspiring entrepreneur to do?

So, here’s the thing. Each of these denotes a form of business, how a business is structured and who the “owner” is. Each is also relates to two special topics: (1) taxes and (2) liability.

I’m not an accountant nor a tax attorney, so I’m not going to give too much advice on taxes, but I’ll give you some basics. I’ll spend most of this post on the liability question. But first, the tax basics…

Generally speaking (and almost universally before 1987), if you formed a corporation (think companies like IBM, Inc., Coca-Cola, Inc., etc) the profits of the corporation were taxed as income to the corporation AND they were taxed again as income to the individuals that owned the company – the so-called double tax problem. However, in the last 20-30+ years the IRS has allowed the profits for certain kinds of companies to be taxed only once – when the owners claim it as income. Who wants to get taxed twice? Or even once, if we can avoid it? Get with your accountant or tax attorney for the details.

So, back to the liability stuff. One of the main reasons someone creates a corporation is to establish a liability shield between the business and themselves. Example: a customer gets hurt by your product. They sue the company. If you’re a sole proprietorship (i.e. no corporation), they can take everything the company owns AND everything you personally own. If you’re a corporation (and follow certain rules), they can take everything the company owns but they CAN’T get to you personally. That’s big. Limiting liability encourages business owners to take risks and drive the economy without being terrified that they’ll lose everything they’ve ever had or will ever have.

All those acronyms at the beginning identify the type or corporate structure, how it’s used, and what you can expect liability-wise.

To figure out which acronym (and, therefore which business form) is right for you, contact your business attorney. Or stay tuned here.

In the meantime, check out our website at www.jslawcenter.com

All Things Beer-y: How great is it to be in NC now?

Answer: It’s pretty great.

I thought I’d start this series with a brief post on what an amazing place North Carolina is for craft beer right now. I’ve already talked about some recent announcements about new (larger) breweries being built in NC (see post: a little diversion). But wait! There’s more: Oskar Blues has just announced they’ll also be building a brewery in North Carolina.r

Quick aside: Oskar Blues is one of my favorite canning breweries. Absolutely some of the best beer out there. Mama’s Little Yella Pills, Old Chub, Ten Fidy – all classics! My other favorite canning brewery is 21st Amendment (563 2nd Street…) headed by the esteemed Shaun O’Sullivan (“That’s right, cans.”). Awesome beer and just started distributing in NC.

Actually, that’s a pretty good segue. Distribution of beer in NC has gone off the charts in the last few years. 21A is now distributing here, Gordon Biersch, and a ton of others. New announcements come out every few days, or so it seems. While breweries are pulling out of some areas due to production or distribution issues, we’re seeing very little of the market consolidation movement. Whether through distribution, new breweries, or just the culture, indications are that NC is one of (if not the) fastest growing beer markets in the US. Check out the North Carolina Brewers Guild for more information.

A great example is an event I’m headed to this weekend. Rockfish Grill in Durham NC is hosting Casks for a Cure. Casks for a Cure proceeds go to benefit Pints for Prostates (a great cause, check it out – bu that’s not the point). The point here is that the entire event is casks (of Real Ale) all from breweries that *have not opened yet*. These are all breweries IN PLANNING IN NORTH CAROLINA. How cool is that? It gets better… they all donated the beer and developed a collaboration beer that will also be served. This is just good stuff.

I’ve talked about breweries expanding. I’ve talked about new breweries. I’ve talked about distribution. One last piece, and the last paragraph is a hint. The beer culture scene is absolutely phenomenal. I live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area (i.e. Research Triangle or “the Triangle” around here). There are multiple Meetup groups focusing on beer and the biggest/best (Tri-beer) has events nearly everyday – just within a 20 mile radius! When the group got started I thought I’d commit to it, but I quickly discovered my liver couldn’t hang with the young whipper-snappers and I had to back down to only an event or two a week. And that’s only the Meetup side. There’s also facebook events, tweet-ups, other event calendars, etc. Even the local lawyer association has gotten into it, holding socials at local brewpubs (like Natty Greene’s). Of course, it’s a little more than ironic that the lawyers’ group is the Bar Association, but – hey – we’ll take the marketing where we can get it, right?

Anyway, I wanted to start my series of All Things Beer-y with something simple and something I’m passionate about. If you’re with me on touting NC Beer, let me here about it. Comment below.

Editorial Calendar: Mark 1

May 1, 2012 2 comments
Things (application)

I'll mark this off my "to do" list.

I have been writing about whatever strikes my fancy recently, but mostly of a legal sort. It occurs to me that doing so does drive home the passion, insight, (or discipline – quite frankly) of the writing and the topics.

A good friend suggested a simple way to address that particular problem is to put together an editorial calendar: what I’ll talk about and when. What a novel idea! It’ll seem like it was planned and everything!

So here is my shot at the editorial calendar moving forward (at least for a little while):

Week of

Topic
April 30 All Things Beer-y
May 7 Business  Law
May 14 Debtor/Creditor Law
May 21 Legal Basics (i.e. how the system works)
May 28 Wild-Card
Jun 4 All Things Beer-y
Jun 11 Business  Law
Jun 18 Debtor/Creditor Law
Jun 25 Legal Basics (i.e. how the system works)

I’ll try to use this as a basic outline over the next several weeks. Let’s see if we can get into a rhythm of covering information that’s useful, somewhat detailed, and – at times, at least – fun.

Let me know what you think? Is this the right schedule? Sound interesting?

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