Vote 'Yes' to Renovate and Update Polk County Courthouse

I generally try to stay away from politics on this blog but there is an important vote on November 5th regarding Measure A:  The Polk County Public Safety Judicial System Bond. I encourage you to vote 'Yes" for this measure.

Our Polk County Courthouse has been in use for over 100 years. While it is an architectural gem it is also badly in need of updating.  Most importantly, it is not adequately designed for security and safety needs. Violent criminals often roam the same halls with the public including jurors and children.  Also, there are numerous courtrooms crowded into the facility that were not designed for that purpose. Polk County is the busiest courthouse in the state. It was originally designed for just four courtrooms but now houses over 20 courtrooms in an effort to meet the needs of the public.

The old adage is that you can pay now or pay later. If we don't pass this measure the costs will be substantially higher down the road. At some point in the near future you can be assured that the courthouse will be overhauled or perhaps a new one built. We cannot avoid that fact much longer. It is an absolute necessity.  A smarter approach would be to approve the measure now. The cost is approximately $1.50 per month for the average homeowner. It is a small price to pay to ensure fairness and to keep our families safe.

Again, please vote 'Yes' on this important measure. 

 

Law Firm Social Media Strategy

I am speaking at the Iowa Bar Association's Bridge the Gap seminar on May 9, 2013 on The Lessons I've Learned From Seven Years of Legal Blogging.

I am excited about the presentation as it is the first time I've spoken on legal blogging for a couple of years. I've given numerous presentations about social media and the law over the past several years but at the end of the day it's fun to discuss why lawyers should blog and how it can be done effectively.

I'd also suggest watching this short video on Law Firm Social Media Strategy from the LXBN Network. The video has a couple of excellent tips for lawyers to remember when using social media.

  1. Make sure your social media efforts line up with the rest of your client development strategy.
  2. Provide value on the subjects and industries where your clients are looking for it.

 

Iowa Business Law Services: Rush on Business Companion Web Site

 I am very happy to announce my new companion Web site to go along with this blog at www.iowabusinesslawservices.com. The site will feature information on my legal practice areas, a simple way to submit information for formation of a new corporation or LLC and also a video resources section with tips on business and franchise law. We'll also feature many other business and franchise law resources as we develop out the site.

A new offering with the new site rollout is that I am immediately implementing a Subscription Services Plan to make legal services more affordable for the new or early stage company. Check it out for details.

I also set up a new Facebook page for the blog be sure to 'Like' the page for easy access to updates on business and franchise law.

Thanks so much for following Rush on Business. And look for some other exciting offerings from me very soon relating to franchise law.

BIZ to Host Event with Dwolla COO on the High Growth Start-Up

The BIZ is host to a great event this coming week featuring Dwolla COO Charise Flynn as she takes questions on life behind the scenes at the high growth start-up. I've had the opportunity to serve on a speakers' panel with Charise and I find her personal journey and insights fascinating. Charise is a fellow Simpson College graduate so you know she's got to be good.

The event is Wednesday, February 20th at 11:30 a.m. at the Greater Des Moines Partnership offices. The admission fee is $15.00 which includes lunch.

Register for the event here.

Rush Nigut to Speak at ABI Social Media Roundtable

Rush Nigut of Brick Gentry, P.C. will be one of the featured speakers at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry's Social Media Roundtable on November 14, 2012 at the Honey Creek Lodge Resort. Rush will deliver the keynote general session presentation on New Developments and the Future of Social Media. He will also lead one of the HR breakout sessions on Social Media and the Litigation Process. For the marketing track he will be a panelist on Learning Best Practices from Companies in Iowa Who Actively Use Social Media.

For more information on the seminar please see the event agenda.

Support Iowa's Judiciary in 2012 Election

This is not a political blog but I again feel compelled to write about the political effort by certain special interest groups to oust the Supreme Court justices who ruled in an unanimous opinion in the Varnum case that non-religious, civil marriage should be a right available to everyone. In the last election, three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted. This time the special interest groups have have targeted yet another Justice involved in the decision.  We cannot let this happen again. 

We have long had an excellent system of justice in Iowa. Like any lawyer or the public, I do not agree with every decision issued by our judges. However, it is my belief that our judges do their best to make our court system fair and impartial. On survey after survey, Iowa courts have ranked high in judicial fairness nationally. Moreover, the positive feedback from Iowa lawyers on the Iowa State Bar Association surveys demonstrates the high quality of work performed by our justices.

Unfortunately the special interest groups trying to oust our judges would have you believe otherwise. They want you to believe that a group of "activist" Supreme Court judges set out to ignore or rewrite our constitution. They want you to believe the judges ignored the will of the people. 

But know that judges are not activists when they decide constitutional issues, rather, they are required to rule on the issues presented by the parties. That's called doing your job as a judge, not activism. In our judicial system, when one party alleges a law is unconstitutional, it is the court's DUTY to compare the law passed in the political process to the equal protection guaranteed to all in our Constitution.

You may or may not agree with the decision in Varnum. But for me, that's not the issue. The issue is the notion that an entire Supreme Court and lower court judges should be removed solely because special interest groups disagree with their decision. Do you want a judiciary that is for sale? Do you want a judiciary that must cower in fear because well-funded special interest groups may be unhappy with their next decision? Do you want a judiciary whose impartiality is weakened?

In conclusion, I hope you will turn the ballot over and vote 'Yes' on the retention of our judges in next week's election. The survey of Iowa lawyers demonstrates these judges are well qualified in their current positions and are deserving of our support. An independent judiciary may be riding on it.

*The views expressed on this blog are my own and are not intended to speak for or represent the views of Brick Gentry, P.C. or the other lawyers in our law firm.

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court upheld, in a 5-4 decision, the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. I am no expert on the act and I have not had time to closely review the decision. Consequently, I suggest you do what I am doing and go read some of the best coverage on the Web from lawyers around in the country in the Affordable Care Act section of the LexBlog Network. There's no question we all need to be informed.

If you are interested in reading the entire decision you can find it here.

Please note that Rush on Business is not a political blog and I will not be posting comments that are politically motivated. Any comments analyzing the decision and its potential impact are welcome.

Wanted: One Woman. One Franchise

Joel Libava a/k/a The Franchise King is running a great contest for prospective women franchise owners. It's called the ONE WOMAN. ONE FRANCHISE Contest. Joel is looking for one woman who is ready to make the commitment to be a franchise owner. He's going to help that woman choose, research and buy a franchise.

Joel is helping celebrate the launch of his new book, Become a Franchise Owner. I've read it and if you're interested in franchising, I recommend you read it too.

I have agreed to help out the contest winner with a franchise disclosure document and franchise agreement review. Several other sponsors are assisting as well including a business formation from CorpNet, a press release from Ignite Venture Partners, a six month subscription from Live Plan to assist with business planning, a consultation with online marketing expert Matt Mansfield, and a free book on finance from Nicole Fende.

Should be a great opportunity for one lucky prospective woman franchise owner. Register today!

Iowa Creativity Summit March 1st at Drake University

Lawyers are not immediately recognized as the most creative souls on the planet but some of the best lawyers I know definitely have the the creative spark. I have seen many who were classic doodlers, photographers and painters. Some of them were also the most creative in the courtroom and ultimately very successful in winning cases. That's why I am intrigued by the Iowa Creativity Summit that is scheduled for March 1st at Drake University (Olmstead Center). Your registration includes dinner and two workshops led by best selling author Matthew E. May. The evening program begins at 5:15 p.m. and ends at 9:45 p.m.

This is a great opportunity for business leaders and employees to familiarize themselves with the creative process. As the program says, creativity isn't just for marketers or designers, it's for everybody. Even lawyers and entrepreneurs!

For more information on the program click:  Iowa Creativity Summit

For more information on Matthew E. May click: The Laws of Subtraction

Rush on Business You Tube Channel on the Air!

I am pleased to announce that I now have a Rush on Business You Tube Channel where I'll post short videos on various aspects of business and franchise law. I have a few videos posted so far and I'll add content weekly.

New videos include:

Should You Include Your Spouse When Forming a Small Business LLC?

Where Should Iowa Residents Incorporate or Form an LLC for their Small Business?

If there is a topic you think would be interesting, please let me know!

Iowa Startup Fair Has More Than 80 Companies

The Iowa Startup Fair takes place on January 31, 2012 from 3 to 6 PM in various locations around downtown Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Pella. More than 80 companies will be exhibiting throughout the state.

There are more than 50 businesses exhibiting at the Des Moines locations. Those locations are the StartupCity Des Moines offices, 317 Sixth Avenue, Fifth Floor; Amici Expresso, 206 Sixth Avenue; Foundry Coworking, 418 6th Avenue, skywalk level; and the BitMethod Headquarters, 418 6th Ave., 12th Floor.

The event is designed to give the community, investors and business people a look at the exciting things Iowa business startups are accomplishing.

I'll be exhibiting with my startup, NotifyWorks, a cloud based software system that allows lawyers, financial advisors and other professionals to send automated email notifications to their clients even when they are away from their desks or working on something else. Come check us out!

Iowa Startup Fair to Showcase New Businesses

The first ever Iowa Startup Fair is taking place on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 from 3 to 6 pm. During the fair, new businesses will set up informational tables to showcase thier projects for an audience of business, investment, civic and other community members.

In Des Moines, the Startup Fair locations will be at the Midland, Bank of America and Liberty Buildings. In Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Vault Co-Working will host. A location in Pella has not yet been determined and other regions in Iowa will be added soon according to the site.

I've decided to participate in Des Moines with my new startup, NotifyWorks. Notifyworks is a web-based automated email system that enables lawyers and other professionals to proactively notify their clients of dates and deadlines.

Dream Big, Grow Here Contest has Begun

Via the Silicon Prairie News:  The Dream Big Grow Here contest for Central Iowa has officially begun. Take a look at the pitches and vote for your favorites. It appears like it's going to be a close race. I am impressed with all the ideas but I am partial to the legal startup, FInalize It.

As they say, vote early and vote often!

Notifyworks: My Leap into the Startup World

For the past 17 years, I have been advising businesses of all shapes and sizes, whether small or large. I have always loved working with startups. It is exciting to hear the stories of these entrepreneurs and how they could solve a problem or discovered a new way of doing business.

Now I am leaping into that startup world with my own company called Notifyworks. Notifyworks is an automated client notification system. We are currently continuing with our beta testing but anticipate launching formally September 1, 2011. My partners, Mike Colwell and Brian Hemesath, bring a wealth of experience and I couldn't be more excited to get our company off the ground.

The idea from Notifyworks developed out of my law practice. In almost every contract or legal matter, there is some sort of follow up needed. It might be a termination date, a renewal or some other deadline. Too often these dates are ignored by clients until the last minute, or worse, forgotten entirely. What Notifyworks does, in a nutshell, is make sure lawyers and their clients never miss one of those dates. It's a great solution for any professional or business that routinely deals with contracts and deadlines.


Unlike your calendar or docket system that still requires you to take action, Notifyworks removes surprises or last minute scrambling by allowing you to set up proactive notifications that are timed to automatically go out in advance of important dates and deadlines. The system is easy to use and we have a notification library with message templates or your own customized messages that will save you valuable time in the process.  I think most lawyers will even generate more work from clients that see their lawyer cares and is on top of things.   The whole idea is to deliver great service and build strong relationships with clients.

I am excited to discuss Notifyworks and other stories on the Silicon Prairie News Prairiecast this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. If you miss it live, please be sure to check out the archived podcast.

If you are interested in joining our beta test group, please send me an email at rush@notifyworks.com. Be sure to let me know if I can answer any questions. 

Dream Big Grow Here Contest: Win $15,000 for New Tech Start Up

Do you have a new technology-based business idea? If you do, I encourage you to check out the Dream Big, Grow Here contest that is sponsored regionally by the Business Innovation Zone.  The winner of the regional business pitch contest will be awarded $5,000 and then move on for the opportunity to win another $10,000 in a state-wide contest here in Iowa.

The background information (from the BIZ Web site):  In June of 2010, the University of Northern Iowa Regional Business Center (RBC) developed a partnership with the Iowa Bankers Association and the Community Vitality Center to attract and link emerging Iowa entrepreneurs with the capital resources available in the state to serve them.

A statewide contest entitled Dream Big Grow Here was launched, featuring $1,000 monthly grants awarded online to emerging and existing Iowa small business owners who uploaded their ‘dreams’, then encouraged friends, family and other business owners to vote for them.

Wildly popular, Dream Big Grow Here attracted 63,489 visitors during the five month beta test. Given the success of Dream Big Grow Here and increased interest in online resources among innovators, the RBC approached a small group of statewide sponsors to provide matching funds for regional contests-with cash awards of $5,000 and fund a statewide pitch-off among winners for a grand prize of $10,000.  

There will be 8 regional contests, including ours here in Central Iowa.  Each region will select (through crowd voting) a winner, who will receive $5,000.  Those 8 regional winners will then compete against one another (again, crowd voting) for the statewide $10,000 prize.

It's my understanding the business idea must be pre-sale. So if you have sold your product or service to anyone, you won't be eligible. It is for true start-up technology-based businesses. For more information be sure to contact Mike Colwell of the BIZ at MColwell@desmoinesmetro.com. You can also check out a recent podcast on Silicon Prairie News discsussing the program and other interesting issues.

 

Startup City Des Moines Builders Forum

Startup City Des Moines builders forum is tonight at the BitMethod offices located in the Liberty Building downtown. What is it? It's just an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to get together, share ideas and make connections. No formal presentations. No real plan.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the momentum building in the Des Moines entrepreneurial community. You've got to hand it to Startup City Des Moines and others for their efforts in trying to build a startup culture here. It's really nice to see.

Des Moines' Entrepreneurial Community Gaining Momentum

Yesterday I spoke at the BIZ Raising Capital Seminar mentioned in my last blog post. I thoroughly enjoyed being on a panel with some excellent business advisors including:

But mostly  I enjoyed listening and talking with a group of excited and motivated business owners that are determined to make things happen in Des Moines. I felt a collective energy from those business owners that I had not felt from similar groups in the past.

Several of the attendees were also involved in the recent Startup Weekend Des Moines. From the conversation today it was clear that was a highly successful event that may produce more than one viable business opportunity.

I am also encouraged by Christian Renaud's StartUpCity Des Moines. It's a new resource and gathering place for startups in Des Moines.Christian anticipates it will be up and running by the end of the summer. If you are a new business looking for guidance that could be a great place for you to start.

Go create and innovate!

Brick Gentry Lawyer Austin Kennedy Presents Immigration Webinar

Listen and watch the premiere Brick Gentry, P.C. webinar from immigration lawyer Austin Kennedy on our new Brick Gentry Web site. Austin's presentation is on Achieving Lawful Permanent Residency in the United States Through the Labor Certification Process.

We are currently in the process of developing presentations on franchise and LLC issues. Register for our Webinars and receive updates on when new webinars are completed. Let us know if there is a topic you are interested in and we'll consider a webinar for it.

 

Three Iowa Supreme Court Justices Ousted

In a historic vote last night, three Iowa Supreme Court justices were ousted as a result of a controversial decision made by the court last year in Varnum v. Brien.  The Iowa Supreme Court unanimously upheld that the statute defining marriage only as a union between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause in the Iowa constitution.  Three of the Supreme Court justices were up for retention last night and all three lost.

So where does that leave our judiciary? As I said in my last post, I think this could have a substantial negative impact on our judiciary because of the influence of special interests (i.e. big money) on the independence of our judiciary.   More than ever, we will need courageous judges who are willing to make decisions that are not always going to be popular.  History is replete with occasions where the majority rule was not always right.  Judges should not be forced to take opinion polls before deciding a case.

As I have indicated before, our Iowa judiciary has a reputation for fairness.  I don't expect that to change overnight.  I just hope Iowa voters haven't cut off their nose to spite their face.

 

Iowa Judiciary Deserves Our Support

This is not a political blog but I feel compelled to write about the recent political effort by a special interest group to oust many of the judges on the November 2nd ballot including three Iowa Supreme Court Justices.  The special interest effort, in my view, is misguided.

I am proud to be a part of the excellent system of justice that exists in Iowa. Like all lawyers and the public, I do not agree with every decision issued by our judges.  However, it is my strong belief that our judges do their best to make our court system fair and impartial.  In fact, I have written in the past (long before the recent attack on our judiciary) about the national reputation Iowa courts have for fairness. For example, see this post from 2007.

Unfortunately the group trying to oust our judges would have you believe otherwise.  They want you to believe that a group of "activist" Supreme Court judges decided to ignore or rewrite our constitution because they unanimously decided in the Varnum case that non-religious, civil marriage should be a right available to everyone. This well-funded special interest group is upset with only that one decision.

Now, in writing this blog post I am not expressing my personal belief about the Varnum decision. My position on the decision is not important and like the CEO of Principal Financial Group wrote in a recent editorial (see link below), my concern is that our judiciary should not make rulings based on fear of public outcry over an unpopular decision or because of campaign contributions from special interest groups rather than the law.  How could anyone believe they would get a fair shake in a court system like that?

The special interest group argues these alleged"activist" judges took it upon themselves to ignore the will of the people. Anyone that knows the judges in question, knows this is simply not the case. In our judicial system, when one party in a case alleges a law is unconstitutional, it is the court’s duty to compare the law passed in the political process to the equal protection guaranteed to all in our Constitution.  Judges are not activists when they decide constitutional issues, rather, they are required to rule on the issues presented by the parties. They were doing their job. (What's interesting to me is whether "new" judges would reach a different conclusion if not pressured by a special interest to do so - after all the Varnum decision was unanimous and decided by judges that were appointed by both Republican and Democratic governors).

You may or may not agree with the decision in Varnum. But, for me, that's not the issue. The issue for me is the notion that an entire Supreme Court and lower court judges should be removed solely because a special interest group disagrees with their decision. This is exactly what could happen if this well-funded special interest group is successful. Do you want a judiciary that is for sale? Do you want a judiciary that must cower in fear because political groups may be unhappy with their next decision? Do you want a judiciary that makes no attempt to be fair and impartial?

I encourage you to do some research on the issue if you have questions. Some items to read include:

Finally, I hope you will turn your ballot over and vote 'Yes' to retain the judges in our election on November 2nd. The survey from Iowa lawyers demonstrates these judges are well qualified to continue in their current positions and they deserve our support.

*The views expressed in this blog post are my own and are not intended to speak for or represent the views of the other lawyers in Brick Gentry, P.C.

 

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