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Are you among the estimated 143 million Americans whose identity information might have been compromised by the hack into the server of credit bureau Equifax? If so, freezing your credit is probably the best thing you can do to protect yourself, experts say.

This requires contacting all three major credit bureaus either by phone or on their website to request a freeze. This will involve a small fee depending on where you live, which you can check at the TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax websites.

Doing so will throw roadblocks in the way of identity thieves who might want to open a credit card or take out a loan in your name. The only downside aside from the nominal cost is that you will have to unfreeze your credit the next time you want to make a major financial transaction, which very well might cost you again—although again, not much. You will be given a PIN code for purposes of unfreezing, so keep this information in a safe place.

Are Threats on Social Media Protected Free Speech?internet_freedom_3-300x124

In our information age – the Age of Google, you might say – everybody knows that free speech is protected by the first amendment.  And many believe that one can say whatever one wants on social media.

THIS IS SIMPLY NOTE TRUE – and that is not an alternative fact!  Free speech does have limits, and threats to others are not protected speech.

2016 Tax Bills Coming Soon: Here’s What You Can Expect

The Cook County Clerk recently published 2016 property tax rates.  This is the final step in the billing process.  Second installment

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2016 tax bills will be mailed by the end of June and will be due on August 1, 2017.  Here are some notable facts that will affect this year’s tax bills.

How We Operate Our Business is ChangingTime-for-Change-300x200

The technological revolution that has enveloped our society has made technology an important part of our lives.  The use of computers and information technology has become an integral part of business, and it is doubtful there will ever be a return to traditional methods of conducting business.  The efficiency to conduct business, to provide products and services at a faster, more efficient rate, has radically changed how we do business.  Effective use of technology can be helpful to every business, large and small.

This trend towards increased use of technology will not diminish and will only increase.  Technology is affecting the way you work and where you work. With the rise of mobile and cloud computing, business owners can work and manage their  businesses from anywhere. For example, 50% of workers check email on the weekends and 34% check email while on vacation? The good news is that technology has increased our productivity by over 400% since 1950.

Aerial-fall-Lincolnpark-300x158Blockchain and Chicago Businesses

In September of 2015, the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Software and Society’s World Economic Forum[1] predicted that by 2025, 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchains or blockchain related technology.  If you are a Chicago business owner and you are unsure what that means or how it might affect your company, you want to speak to a Chicago business attorney as soon as possible to learn all that you can about this rapidly growing technology.

What Is Blockchain Technology?

equitycrowdfundingEquity Crowdfunding – The Future of Investing?

While nearly everyone has heard of crowdfunding, the concept of equity crowdfunding is not as well known.  For those Chicago business owners that are new to this developing area, prior to May 2016, crowdfunding was available only to accredited investors or those with an annual income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of more than 1 million, not including the value of a primary residence. Although the 2012 federal Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act[1] (JOBS) provided for non-accredited investors, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) did not authorize equity crowdfunding to begin until May 2016.

Since that time, Article III of the JOBS Act has seen 49 successful offerings with 11.5 million dollars committed according to a November 17, 2016, Forbes report[2] on the state of equity crowdfunding. While the report suggests that the large majority of startups are not yet using non-accredited crowdfunding under Title III, it is anticipated that equity investment platforms will see tremendous growth moving forward.

TechnologyLuddites and technophobes have no place in the modern practice of law, as least not according to recent changes in the rules of professional conduct.   Technology has found embedded itself into the practice of law.

Technology advances are constantly changing the way we practice just as technology is changing our lives in so many other ways.   One law firm recently brought a new associate into the firm and its name is ROSS, the artificial intelligence that does research to help with its research issues.  E-filing is being adopted in every court system.  E-discovery is changing the litigation paradigm.  Cybersecurity has become a concern of every law firm.  And Legal Zoom is dominating the legal services marketplace.

In looking to the future, we must think exponentially.  The law of accelerating returns is bringing more advanced changes and technologies sooner than we can anticipate.   Lawyers can no longer afford to be sluggish in learning and using these new technologies.

dental officeDentists face new problems with overtime for their employees.  The Fair Labor Standards Act[1] (FLSA) sets forth standards for both minimum wages and overtime pay as well as record keeping for businesses.  Whether your dental practice consists of two employees or a hundred employees spread across three office locations, federal law requires that all dental offices comply with FLSA overtime regulations by December 1, 2016.

Exempt Versus Non-Exempt Employees

In order to determine if you are in compliance with FLSA regulations, the first step is to review which employees are designated as exempt, and not owed overtime wages, versus non-exempt. FLSA rules establish three types of exempt employees[2] which are defined by an individual’s employment description rather than their job title including:

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It seems that every other news story involves Hillary Clinton,[1]  emails, and the use of private servers, putting the topic of email deletion at center stage.  But what can a Chicago business owner learn from the Hillary Clinton email story?

There was a time when owning a business did not include words such as hard drives, flash drives, magnetic tapes and USB ports.  Now, every company has a fleet of computers, a server, and a complex back-up system.  Most businesses even have a least one IT expert on staff.  Computers have replaced typewriters, emails have replaced snail mail, and hard drives have all but replaced filing cabinets filled with documents.

When it comes to email communications, the use of cell phones and laptops has made them commonplace in and out of the business world.  It is almost expected that a business owner will send and receive emails over lunch, on-the-go, and over the course of the weekend.   For more than a decade, business owners have been warned regarding the pitfalls and dangers of electronic communications.  While those earliest concerns centered around the receipt of spam and the use of secure e-mail accounts[2] to preserve secret corporate information, the retention and deletion of e-mails was also discussed.