Last May we announced that we were a part of a pilot program the Iowa Secretary of State’s office launched for fast track filing of limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations. I am happy to report that the filing system has worked like an absolute gem. Now it is truly more convenient than ever to get your business formed within the State of Iowa. Our turnaround time for preparing and filing LLCs and corporations has been dramatically reduced. In my years of practice I must admit that this is one of the best projects a government office has pulled off. I give Iowa Secretary of State’s office major kudos for their work.

Continue Reading Filing LLC and Corporations Never Easier in Iowa

Let’s get down to brass tacks. The main reason Republican lawmakers in Iowa are looking to change the way Iowa judges are selected is because they want protection for social issues like an anti-abortion bill they hope to pass this legislative session and due to the Iowa Supreme Court decision in Varnum from several years ago where the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that non-religious, civil marriage, is available to everyone. Since Varnum, special interests worked hard to oust Iowa Supreme Court justices. And now, these special interests are setting their sights on changing the process for the Judicial Nominating Commission that ultimately appoints judges in Iowa. Under the current system, Iowa lawyers elect one-half of the commissioners to the Judicial District Nominating Commissions while the governor appoints the other half of the members. Lawmakers want to change this so that lawyers no longer elect one-half of the commissioners but rather lawmakers from the political parties would nominate the other half.

Continue Reading Iowa Lawmakers Looking to Politicize our Courts?

A major area of our trial and business law practice consists of non-compete and trade secrets law. We hear all the time from people that believe Iowa is a “right to work” state so that means non-competes are not upheld under Iowa law, right? Wrong.

Continue Reading Interesting Developments for Non-Competes and Trade Secrets

I recently had the distinction of reviewing a franchise agreement for the very first prospective franchisee in a franchise. My review revealed there were still many issues to work out in the agreement and with the system in general to make it reasonable for the franchisee. But the potential opportunity was very intriguing to the prospective franchisee due to the financial success of the underlying business. Sometimes it is difficult to balance the legal issues (what I know from past experiences with franchises that have failed) v. prospects of financial success (i.e.the potential for a significant return on investment particularly with a new or inexperienced franchisor).

Continue Reading The Dilemma of a Start-Up Franchise

If you’re not a risk-taker, you should get the hell out of business.

– Ray Kroc

I read the above quote today, and wondered, is this true? Do you really need to be a risk-taker to be in business? And, if you don’t take risks you should actually get the hell out of business. Because as a business lawyer, our whole being is about reducing risks for clients, not advocating for it.

Continue Reading Do You Need to Take Risks to be in Business?

I am excited to announce that I have been a part of a pilot project through the Iowa Secretary of State’s office which now enables our law firm to offer online fast track limited liability company (LLC) and incorporation filing services. Now it is more convenient than ever to get the legal assistance you need in setting up your Iowa business. Not only can you get legal advice you deserve from an Iowa business lawyer when you set up your business but you’ll be able to get that filing completed immediately rather than waiting for days or weeks before your business entity is actually registered.

Continue Reading Iowa LLC and Incorporation Fast Track Filing Services

On our new Brick Gentry Trial Team Blog I write about how the $500,000,000 settlement Michigan State is paying to the young women sexually abused by Larry Nassar sends a strong message to business and organizational leaders.

DO THE RIGHT THING!

I know it is a really simple message. But organizations consistently minimize, hide or ignore bad behavior. It is incumbent upon organizational leaders to step up and do the right thing when wrongdoing occurs.

One of the things I hear over and over from distressed franchisees is that they purchased a franchise because it was a “proven business model.” Now, I don’t blame most franchisees for this thought process as they head into their franchise business purchase.  The franchise industry has done a remarkable job of marketing itself where people are preconceived to believe franchises are proven business models. Second, some franchises have been in business for a long time which naturally leads someone to believe it is a proven business model. After all, a franchise would not be in business for a long time if it were not proven, right?

Continue Reading Buying a Franchise: Is it Really a Proven Business Model?

This article on how 5 Successful Owners Tell How They Spot and Run a Successful Franchise is from Australia but just because it is from “Down Under” doesn’t mean the words of wisdom aren’t applicable in the United States. One of the better ideas I took from this article is the importance of local engagement. I think a lot of times franchisees are attracted to a franchise because it may be a regional or national brand, which is understandable, but ultimate success is still determined on how well you connect your franchise business to the local community. As one of the experts quoted states:

“The most successful franchises often demonstrate the highest commitment to engaging with local communities both online and offline, creating value for existing and new customers through sharing customer stories/experiences, value-add promotions and retention campaigns – which may need to differ depending on the local catchment.”

Another point to strongly consider is the franchisor’s unique selling point. You need to know your competitors and the nature of the LOCAL market. What works in San Diego may or may not work in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hat tip to Joel Libava a/k/a The Franchise King for posting this article. Be sure to check out his Franchise Business University online.

 

I saw an interesting blog post from Brian McGinnis of Fox Rothchild that Minnesota is considering a sweeping change in its sexual harassment laws. The proposed change states,

An intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment … does not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive.

McGinnis does a nice job of explaining just what this may mean for businesses and the flood of exposure that may come as a result of removing the severe and pervasive standard.

Will such language changes make its way to Iowa? With the recent cases involving sexual harassment in our state government, there’s no question that more attention will be devoted to the issue. Currently, Iowa law says for state employees “sexual harassment” means persistent, repetitive, or highly egregious conduct directed at a specific individual or group of individuals that a reasonable person would interpret as intentional harassment of a sexual nature, taking into consideration the full context in which the conduct occurs, which conduct threatens to impair the ability of a person to perform the duties of employment, or otherwise function normally within an institution responsible for the person’s care, rehabilitation, education, or training. With claims on the rise due to the #MeToo movement and our governor calling for an independent review of harassment at a state agency, it is not out of line to think Iowa and other states could see similar changes as proposed in Minnesota in the near future.

What does this mean for your business? See my article written in January discussing the rise of sexual harassment claims and what you might be able to do as a business owner to not only avoid liability, but also better your workplace. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Move quickly to stay on top of training and educating employees on harassment and discrimination issues, or you may potentially pay a far greater price than the training and education will cost.