Thanks! (more client praise)

We were grateful to recently receive these two comments from clients whose matters we resolved:

Client 9 (January 2015): “You gave me a voice when I needed it most. Knowing that I had you helping me gave me the strength to hang in there.  I can’t believe I ended up with most everything I asked for. I even got some things that I never dreamed I would get back!”

Client 8 (January 2015): “Just wanted to say thank you for your help with the letter. You are truly a godsend. Not only are you knowledgeable but also genuinely caring to a stranger. We need more attorneys like you in this world.”

Read praise from seven other clients here.

Each dispute is different and its outcome depends on the underlying facts as well as factors beyond the control of you or the attorneys, but our goal is to leave every client as happy as those quoted above. Speaking of happiness, here’s a beach photo by attorney David Schleicher to help get your weekend off to a good start.

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Two Free Resources on Criminal Records and Hiring Process

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Employers: If you are concerned about the legal minefield of using criminal records to screen out applicants, here’s a link to a pdf of an employee-side perspective (May 2013–as pictured above) on how to do it legally.  You also can go to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law website for background on the by whom and why of the publication’s development.  If you would prefer a Q&A on the topic straight from Uncle Sam (April 2012), then instead go to EEOC’s website.  If you are a Texas-based employer, you also can give us a call with your questions.

Employers Beware: Unacceptable At-Will Language

http://www.NLRB.gov

The National Labor Relations Authority recently distinguished acceptable at-will language from wording that may give the misimpression that even a collective bargaining agreement could not change that status.  Here’s the language referenced by the NLRA press release that one of their judges found unacceptable: “I further agree that the at-will employment relationship cannot be amended, modified or altered in any way.”  By contrast, the language found acceptable limited who with the employer had the authority to change the at-will arrangement, rather than requiring the employee to agree (by signing handbook) it could never be modified.

“At-will” employment refers to the situation in which an employer or employee can end their relationship at any time, for any reason that is not illegal.  In other words, an employer would not have to show it had a good reason for firing the employee, or even give a reason at all.  Many states–including Texas–have at-will employment as the default status for the employer-employee relationship.

Biz/Feds: Secrecy and Litigation

Getting sued or about to sue someone else? There is an old saying from the New Testament that often applies: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Put another way, build into your calculation of the value of settlement versus fighting the potential damage from a formerly-closeted skeleton putting on some of your dirty laundry and dancing around in front of a jury.

The rules of evidence are intended to keep unrelated matters from distracting judges and juries. But your opponent’s lawyer is likely to give some thought to how to apply those rules in a way that makes it more likely incriminating facts will be found relevant to what is admitted into evidence.

As well, what you get asked by the other side’s lawyer in a deposition is generally much broader than what eventually is admitted into evidence. Unless a question is being asked to harass you, the fact it is not directly on topic generally is not a valid reason for you refusing to answer it. (Depositions are one of the reasons lawyers aren’t often winners of popularity contests.)

Don’t let a few stupid mistakes you’ve made keep you from pursuing justice—chances are the other side has made some too. But neither should you assume you can guarantee your most serious errors from the past will remain hidden.

Above all, give your lawyer a heads-up about your skeletons—because the more often your lawyer is surprised by what the other side uncovers about you and your claims, the greater the chances you will be surprised by how badly you lose.

Biz: Use a standard lease form?

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Using a standard lease agreement seems like a great way to save time and money–perhaps even to get you to the beach a bit quicker.  They vary in quality, from the one-pager to the type that may be provided by a real estate broker.

Whether one is right for you largely is a question of how much you have at stake.  Are you renting a storage shed or tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of commercial space?  As well, some leases are written to favor the landlord, others the tenant.  Which is it for the standard form you have been given?

The biggest question may be not what the boilerplate provisions say, but the special provisions you and the other side want to add.  That’s where spending $500 or $1,000 on an attorney up-front can save you thousands of dollars in later litigation.  An attorney can make sure what the parties think they are saying is likely to be what a court would conclude they were saying.  If you have a question or concern about a lease for a Texas business or non-profit, get in touch with us.