August 2018 Archives

Welcome to the August 2018 Issue of Electronically In Touch

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We are pleased to submit the August 2018 issue of Electronically In Touch. This issue consists of informative articles on a participant's perspective of the recent YLS Summer Meeting, a case study in how to effectively enforce a company's trademarks without alienating fans or consumers, the changing securities regulations governing crowdfunding, a pro bono spotlight on Teresa McNamara of LawNY®, a practice spotlight on YLS member Sarah Gold, and an update from the Business Law Section. We hope you enjoy.

Electronically In Touch is a member driven publication. We welcome submissions from members on any relevant topic, including practice tips, substantive legal articles, case updates, work/life balance, and information regarding upcoming meetings and events. Please submit articles to Justin Batten, Esq. at jwb413@nyu.edu.


My Summer Meeting Experience

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By: Lauren Barrett, Esq.

If you are looking for a section meeting or a conference to attend, I strongly recommend looking into Young Lawyers Section events. As a newly admitted New York attorney and a first time attendee of the Young Lawyers Section Summer Meeting, I was eager to dive right in!

I drove to Saratoga Springs, New York on June 29 from Boston, Massachusetts. When I arrived I immediately made my way to the welcome dinner and drinks portion of the event. Typically, networking is not something I enjoy but, in this instance I had a fantastic time! The environment was very relaxed and welcoming. I was immediately introduced to attorneys from all over the state. Everyone seemed more like friends than the typical networking event. I arrived knowing no one, and left with multiple business cards from people I would genuinely feel comfortable reaching out to.

This event stood out to me in particular because it was not about a specific area of law nor was it entirely client-focused. It is no secret that many attorneys struggle with stress and anxiety due to the high demand and intensity of our jobs. This program took that on by focusing on the mindfulness of attorneys and the power of focusing on yourself. The more authentic, mentally focused, and de-stressed you are as a person, the more useful you will be as an attorney. The Summer Meeting provided the tools to dominate high stress situations and highlighted how to be your authentic self and reduce overall stress.

The first program was "Memory Techniques for Lawyers" presented by Matthew Goerke. Matthew discussed the importance of truly focusing and not just listening when people speak to you. Genuinely listen, then repeat or make a correlation of some sort (ex: Blue suit Bob to remember Bob's name). This helps you remember and recall the information later. This is important because using an individual's name is like music to their ears! If you are able to recall something as simple as a name, you are far more likely to make authentic connections and separate yourself from everyone else.

Next, Professor Heidi K. Brown spoke about being authentic and empowering yourself. Heidi shared a seven-step process that allows even introverts to be themselves while still achieving great results for their clients. These steps entail both reflection and actions to help reduce anxiety and empower individuals to move outside of their comfort zones. This seven-step process is laid out in greater detail in her book "The Introverted Lawyer."

The last program of the day was "Mindfulness for Lawyers" presented by Samara D. Anderson. Samara is not only a practicing attorney but also a yoga teacher. She guided participants through breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga that can all be done while sitting at your desk. These exercises are a quick and easy way to re-center yourself and reduce stress. The more centered and relaxed you are, the more sharp and productive you will be. Samara also discussed how to truly focus by reducing multitasking, and gave us great tips on productivity. One of my personal favorites was her method of scheduling 15-minute staff meetings where everyone stands the entire time. This entices people to get directly to the point and causes staff to pay more attention because it is a change of pace from sitting at a table.

As I left the Summer Meeting I certainly felt more prepared to deal with stress and far more empowered to take on situations that may be out of my comfort zone. I look forward to the next Young Lawyers Section Meeting and I hope to see you there!

Creative Trademark Enforcement: Thinking Outside the Box

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By: Michael DeBlis III, Esq.

In 2000, Lars Ulrich, drummer, co-founder of and ostensible spokesperson for the metal band Metallica, discovered that fans were sharing an unreleased, unfinished recording of a song for the Mission Impossible II soundtrack on the then hot file sharing software platform Napster. Ulrich set about the process of filing suit against Napster, several universities and other entities in an effort to stop end users from sharing the band's entire catalog. A judge agreed with the band's objections enough to issue an injunction against Napster, and the software company eventually settled out of court. It was an aggressive and ultimately successful legal strategy that got Metallica what they wanted, protection of their intellectual property.

Ulrich may have been satisfied with the outcome; however, many of his fans weren't. The band's aggressive and unrelenting songs were their brand - take no prisoners, be your own person because "nothing else matters." The aggressive legal action Ulrich took was completely rational yet it made them appear "corporate" and greedy. Ulrich's ire appeared to be directed at their millions of fans rather than a few file sharers given the fact he had 300,000 Metallica fans banned from using the software. Some of those fans vowed never again to purchase another Metallica song.

Nothing Else Matters Except Your Bottom Line

While Metallica survived the ordeal, their relationship with their fans and their brand was irrevocably damaged. The Napster incident has become a large part of their legacy even though they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Could Metallica have handled the file sharing incident and maintained their identity as heavy metal's iconic rebels? File sharing was a new problem back then and few really knew how to react other than to contact an attorney, always a good strategy, but perhaps in the end aggressive legal tactics do more harm than good. Some entities manage to protect intellectual property without resorting to a kick down the door, guns blazing mindset.

Hook and Ladder and Hook

When your brand name has become so iconic to act as a synonym for an entire type of product, like Kleenex®, like Vaseline®, you have hit the top of the game in both marketing and production. Velcro® is one of those kinds of products. The brand name of the company's hook and ladder fastener is used synonymously with all products of the same kind. Realizing this, Velcro® made a short music video featuring a chorus of attorneys singing a catchy song, "Don't Say Velcro," to remind people that all hook and ladder fasteners are not Velcro® brand.

The music video went viral in 2017. Major media outlets covered the video as if it were a release from a major artist. This extended the brand's visibility as well as consumer good will. The song's message, that Velcro® is a unique product and not just another hook and ladder fastener, was delivered in a dynamic and creative way.

Soft Pedaling C&Ds

The breakout Netflix hit "Stranger Things" inspired everything from Halloween costumes to Internet memes. It also inspired one enterprising event promoter to create a pop-up bar event using characters, graphics and ideas clearly taken directly from the show. The event was originally planned for a six-week run, but it proved so popular the promoters wanted to extend it. That's when the Netflix corporate lawyers stepped in.

The usual cease and desist letter, normally a bland request intended to stop infringing, brand destroying or larcenous behavior, has become a weapon in the war against copyright infringement, often employed in the battle against piracy. In the hands of hacks and amateurs, the C&D has become a tool to badger and threaten consumers who may incorrectly believe their behaviors are harming no one. It's become so bad that judges are sanctioning lawyers whose C&D letters are considered harassing or bullying, and lawyers who engage in the practice are called "copyright trolls."

Netflix knows that the good will created by the success of "Stranger Things" called for a different solution to the problem. Perhaps after seeing the heavy-handed way Paramount's attorneys addressed "Star Trek's" fans' unauthorized use of their IP, Netflix went with an attention-grabbing and fun C&D that built upon their show's attachment to 1980s pop culture. Like the Velcro® video, the Netflix C&D letter received positive coverage on major news outlets and went viral on social media. The target of the letter agreed to Netflix's demure demand not to extend the pop-up bar past the originally planned six-week run and to contact the company for approval for further fan-inspired events.

If you feel another entity, group or individual is infringing on your trademark, you are well within your rights to protect your brand through legal action. Often, consumers are loyal customers and fans are eager to support, and a letter asking for assistance and cooperation are enough. Psychological studies show that asking for assistance strengthens bonds between two people while demanding conformity may alienate others. A C&D can be disguised as a request, a gentle reminder or a giant, snarky joke.

Geeks Bearing Gifts

Yet, in our consumer society, if one really wants to promote good will and strengthen attachment, one might want to include a token of appreciation in the C&D as did AB Inbev, better known to many of us as Anheuser Busch. A few years ago, the brewery used an ad campaign that riffed on the popularity of medieval fantasy epics featuring the nonsensical catch phrase "dilly dilly." As the phrase wormed its way into popular culture, another beer maker Modist tried to market a microbrew called Dilly Dilly. AB Inbev sought to slow the microbrewery's roll.
The company wrote their C&D letter on a scroll, dispatched a costumed town crier to the microbrewery to read the request that Modist stop using the recently trademarked phrase, and offered two Super Bowl tickets as consideration. In the end, Modist raffled the tickets for charity, noting they had only planned to offer a limited quantity of the beer.

Protect Your Bottom Line with Creativity

As important as it is for corporations to protect their intellectual property, it is as important to present a good face to the public even when dealing with serious legal issues. A good IP lawyer will not only look after the legal issues a business faces, but will also look out for the company's bottom line using unique methods to solve problems in a cost-effective way. As Lars Ulrich found out the hard way, legal moves to protect one's interests may have unforeseen PR dimensions. His band is still a legend, but for some fans, their place in the Hall of Fame has an asterisk next to it.

Michael is a partner in the boutique law firm of DeBlis Law where he specializes in tax law and entertainment law. He graduated from Western Michigan University School of Law in 2007 and later went on to earn his masters in taxation (LL.M.) from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2012. As a former public defender, Michael spent nearly eight years cutting his teeth on some of the most serious felony cases to pass through the state courts of New Jersey. He combines a unique blend of left-brain thinking with right brain artistry. When he's not in the courtroom, you can find him on stage performing in any one of a number of theatrical productions. As a professionally trained actor, he's passionate about helping trial lawyers harness the power of persuasion and positive communication in the courtroom in order to connect to the jury on a personal level.

Pro Bono Spotlight: Teresa McNamara, Esq.

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By: Michaela Azemi, Esq. and Nicole Komin, Esq.

Teresa McNamara embodies every pro bono coordinator's dream - an anomalous combination of compassion, commitment and consistency. For two years Teresa has volunteered with Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. (LawNY®), in-house in LawNY®'s Ithaca office representing clients in Tompkins and Tioga counties. Teresa has represented pro bono clients through LawNY® in divorces, family law matters, wills and advance directives, and special education matters.

Teresa's volunteerism has pushed the creative envelope when it comes to the meaning of pro bono legal service through her initiative to build programmatic capacity at LawNY®. Not only has she supervised Cornell Law students through a new student-run remote assistance project ("Uncontested Divorce Project"), but she has also provided advice on the inception and implementation of this new collaborative. Attorneys working alongside Teresa at clinics have witnessed both her advocacy assisting clients seeking a legal name change that more accurately reflects their gender identity and her willingness to mentor law students along the way.

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It is not surprising that Teresa has recently received two statewide awards this year for her pro bono service. On May 1, 2018 Teresa received NYSBA's President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Sixth Judicial District and on June 21, 2018 Teresa was honored with a Pro Bono Service Award from the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York. Teresa's humility and grace were evident at both ceremonies. At the Finger Lakes Women's Bar Association dinner, Teresa's acceptance speech encouraged young lawyers to jump feet first into pro bono by partnering with a local legal aid organization, noting the tremendous gratification it brings in learning new areas of law and helping people in need.

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Inspired to get involved with pro bono service? Thinking of a young lawyer deserving of spotlight recognition? If so, please contact the NYSBA YLS Pro Bono and Community Service Co-Chairs, Michaela Rossettie Azemi, Esq. at michaela.azemi@gmail.com or Nicole Komin, Esq. at nkomin@elderjusticeny.org for statewide opportunities and to submit nominations for the Electronically In Touch Pro Bono Spotlight.

Crowdfunding for Start-Ups: The Path to Raising Millions

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By: Emily A. Georgiades, Esq.

Since 2012, it has never been easier for small and medium enterprises to tap into the world of finance and raise millions to grow their businesses. It is all because of the enactment of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 ("JOBS Act"). The idea of directly soliciting the public (both accredited and unaccredited investors) is a grassroots movement that has become popular all over the world.
In the U.S. alone, it was reported that in 2015 portals attracted $2.1 billion in investment capital for start-ups and that number was expected to almost double to $4 billion in 2016. Furthermore, the World Bank is predicting that globally crowdinvesting will exceed $96 billion in 10 years in developing countries alone. According to research company Statistica, the amount of money individuals are investing is increasing each year. In fact, many start-ups have campaigns that are targeting Millennials (ages 18-35) as they have disposable income and are generally more willing to invest. With its ever-growing popularity, it is important for lawyers to be aware of the changing securities regulations governing crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding for B2B, P2B, P2P

Crowdfunding has proven to be a successful means of obtaining alternative funding to traditional venture capital. It is popular not only for capital raising from business to business (B2B) but also for people raising money from businesses (P2B) and people raising money from people (P2P). One of the latest crowdfunding success stories includes a Scottish company called BrewDog Beer - the self-proclaimed "hardcore beer for punks." They began crowdfunding in 2010 and now have a San Francisco investment firm willing to invest in them based on a £1 billion valuation for their company. The shareholders of this 10-year-old company will stand to make a 2800% return on their investment. Other success stories include Pavengen, a company that makes flooring which generates electricity from the kinetic energy of people walking on tiles, which raised £2 million on a £750,000 goal. In the U.S., we have had even bigger success stories with products like the Pebble E-Paper watch which raised approximately $10.3 million in 37 days. The Dash is the world's first wireless in-ear smart headphone and raised approximately $3.4 million within 50 days of campaigning.

Crowdfunding Intermediaries

With such success, it is not surprising that platforms want to join the movement and make money. "Platforms" act as intermediaries between the businesses launching their campaigns and potential investors. Such platforms include Kickstarter, Crowdcube, Indiegogo, and Fundable - to name a few. Perhaps one of the most well-known platforms is Alibaba, the China-based platform founded by Jack Ma that made history in 2014 when it raised a staggering $21.8 billion at its initial public offering. Alibaba's IPO surpassed VISA's IPO in 2008, which raised $19 billion.

However, there are rules and regulations to starting and running a funding portal. In the U.S., Title III of the JOBS Act regulates intermediaries (which includes funding portals). Each funding portal has its own rules with regards to payment for using its platform to crowdfund but all of them have to abide by due diligence rules, advertising rules, and rules governing communications between the businesses on their websites and with potential investors. Securities lawyers should be aware of these rules and the SEC's Funding Portal guide is especially helpful in these matters. It is equally important for anyone seeking to create a funding portal to consult an experienced securities attorney to ensure compliance with the JOBS Act, the SEC and FINRA requirements.

Emily A. Georgiades, Esq. is a member of the New York State Bar, the Bar of England & Wales and the Cyprus Bar Association. She is a corporate lawyer with a Master of Laws in Corporate, Banking & Finance Law from Fordham University School of Law and teaches an advanced course in Business Law at Queens College in New York. Emily can be reached at Emily@altfinesq.com.

How I Practice: Sarah Gold

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By: Brandon Vogel

Sarah Gold
The Gold Law Firm
Albany

1. What are your areas of practice?
Business transactions, mostly formations and contracts for non-profits and for-profits.

2. Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
It depends on the time of year. I also teach Business Law and Ethics at RPI (Rensselaer Polytechic Institute) two days a week. Those days, it's half the day at school and the other half at work. When I am at work, I pick up the phone and answer way too many emails and do whatever is on the list. I am also of counsel to a firm so I work on any projects I have for them.

3. Where do you practice? Do you have a stand-alone office or home office?
A stand-alone office; previously worked out of my house.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about having your own practice?
The interaction with clients in person. I worked with hedge funds for 2.5 years and never met a single client in person. I enjoy the freedom of being my own boss. It allows me to be a part of NYSBA and other organizations.

5. What are some of the challenges about having your own practice?
It's just me. I do my own books, answer my phones, market my practice and all the legal work. Sometimes, there are not enough hours in the day.

6. What are your must-have tech tools/apps?
Assistant.To (a free email scheduling app) is the best thing I've come across. I have used with clients and colleagues. I can't live without that and Todoist (an online task manager). I also have a lightweight laptop and a tablet for docs on the road. I am also an avid Android /Google mail user.

7. How do you market your practice? How do you find new clients?
I am heavily involved on social media. I have gotten a lot of traction through Facebook and Linkedin. Word of mouth does work. I have grown over the last five years. Referrals are great.

8. When and where do you interact with other attorneys?
Through NYSBA, the Albany County Bar Association and the Capital District Women's Bar Association. I have also been an active member of the "SoloSez" listserv since 2006. I get about 200 emails a day on a number of topics. I've met a lot of great people through it.

9. How do you stay informed with legal news/developments?
A combination of sources. I am a news junkie and get emails from law.com and the NY Times. I am big on twitter and I am always amazed how much info I get from Solosez. There's a member from the Electronic Frontier Foundation who posts about privacy and Internet law; I tend to learn the most from him. When I teach, I start each class with a rundown of current events.

10. If a fellow attorney decided they wanted to start their own practice, what is the one thing they should know?
Don't feel like you have to spend all the money upfront first. Don't buy anything big that you don't need to. That can be malpractice insurance before you have a client or a big tech purchase. See what you need, then buy. If you don't screw it up in the beginning, you will be alright.

Business Law Section Update

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By: Sarah Gold, Esq.

The Business Law Section, one of the largest in NYSBA, is also one of the most diverse based on our fields of practice. With a number of committees ranging from banking to bankruptcy, corporations to non-profits, we have a place for any attorney looking to interact with practitioners in the business law sphere.

While it can seem overwhelming to be amongst so many experienced lawyers, the programming we provide is educational to all attendees. Those just starting out get as much out of it as those who are looking for an update after years of practice.

For those with a more legislative bent, our committees have been active on legislative initiatives and often comment on statutory and regulatory proposals. We are currently reviewing and creating a report regarding the LLC law in New York.

At our most recent meeting in New York City in May at the Harvard Club, we had a number of committee meetings, CLE programming, and a luncheon that let everyone come together and network. While we all do similar types of work, our membership has niches that include some of the experts in the field which are always happy to assist newer members in building their practices. For those who are not able to attend meetings in person, the communities pages for the committees and the Section are active and open to all manner of questions. I myself have found assistance more than once on particularly sticky situations that other members have faced and were able to assist to point me in the right direction.

Our next meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 18 or 19 in New York City on the topics of cybersecurity and data protection. Stay tuned for more information.

We welcome all of you to join us, and if you so choose, get involved in the leadership of the committees or with our Section. If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Gold at sg@goldlawny.com.

Brand New Members of the Young Lawyers Section

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Please join me in welcoming the following new members to the Young Lawyers Section!

Maria Cecilia Alvarez Bollea

Andrew Karwoski, III, Esq.

Qi Lee

Jason F. Lowe

Lesly Agnes Mcanelly, Esq.

Emanuela Pepaj, Esq.

Jesse Randall Peters, Esq.

Eric A. Rivas, Esq.

Estefania Souza, Esq.

Jonah Wacholder

Isaac J. Weingram

Anita M. Armstrong, Esq.

Li-yu Chen, Esq.

David H. Fuchs

Sean Michael Lasoff

Izeta Purisic, Esq.

Kelsey Lynn Hanson, Esq.

Stephanie Marie Lane, Esq.

Christine Ella Taylor, Esq.

Sara Treumann, Esq.

Jamie Biondolillo

Christopher Alan Powers, Esq.

Casandra Antoinette Foley, Esq.

Alexandra L. Quenville

Katelynn Marie Johnson, Esq.

Taylor C. Schubauer, Esq.

Kaitlynn E. Walker, Esq.

Thomas Howard Eddy, Esq.

Eno-obong Janice Essien, Esq.

Maxine Dawn Jeffers, Esq.

Paul William Kohan

Nicholas Christian Lozito, Esq.

Sarah Katherine Lusk, Esq.

Daniella Victoria Pascaru, Esq.

Leora T. Wexler

Brandon M. Ferguson

Michael Ferguson

Justin R. Freedman, Esq.

Marla Jeane Garland, Esq.

Kristen E. Mueller, Esq.

Mondana O. Nikfar

Clifford T. Ryan, Esq.

Avani Shah

Philippa Ford Tapada

John J. Bradley, Esq.

Carolina Garcia, Esq.

Gurhan Heinert, Esq.

Aldie Katherine Levine, Esq.

John Edward Makar, Esq.

Michael Aaron Shulman, Esq.

Jane Elaine Ballerini, Esq.

Flavia Carballo, Esq.

Eugenie Marie Sophie Caroit, Esq.

Pamela Yu-nam Cheung, Esq.

Stephen Christopher Desalvo, Esq.

Claire M. DiMario, Esq.

Nir Fishbien

Marco Giovine, Esq.

Scottland Paul Glenn

Melanie Rachel Goldberg

Jason Alexander Goldfarb, Esq.

Michael Nicolas Habash , Esq.

Laura Lee Herring

Mariia Khorun

Michael R. Louis

Antoinette Nicole Luciano, Esq.

Zhicheng Ma, Esq.

Shadi Malekzadeh Lashkariani, Esq.

Melissa Ryan Reitberg, Esq.

Sarah Thompson Schick

Lourdes Velez, Esq.

Mizuho Yoshida, Esq.

Total New Members: 74

Thanks to everyone for making this a great Section!

Join the Young Lawyers Section

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Become the voice of newly-admitted and young attorneys in NYSBA. Designed to help make the transition from law school to practice an easier one for newly-admitted attorneys, the Young Lawyers Section connects you with experienced attorneys lending general advice, legal guidance, or expert opinions. Take advantage of educational programs, networking events, and the exclusive Young Lawyers Section Mentor Directory, which is just one of the Section's mentoring initiatives. The Section publishes Electronically In Touch and Perspective. Law students may also join the Section and get a jump start on their careers.

ALREADY A MEMBER OF THIS SECTION? JOIN A COMMITTEE!

Are you interested in volunteering for a Section Committee? Please email Amy Jasiewicz at ajasiewicz@nysba.org and indicate the committees you wish to join. The Young Lawyers Section has the following committees:

  • Executive Committee
  • Communications Committee
  • Community Service and Pro Bono Committee
  • Diversity Committee
  • Law Student Development Committee
  • Long-Range Planning Committee
  • Membership Committee
  • Mentoring Committee
  • Nominating Committee
  • Perspective Editorial Board

Disclaimer

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The Officers of YLS and the Editors of Electronically In Touch wish to make clear that the thoughts and opinions expressed in the articles that follow are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the authors' employers or clients, the New York State Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section, or its Officers or Executive Committee.

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