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Can Student Loans Ever Be Discharged?

Yes, and there’s a new tool to help bankruptcy lawyers deter29905732 mine whether clients qualify

Contrary to common perception, not all student loans can be wiped out in bankruptcy court. Although the Bankruptcy Code does protect federal loans and some private loans from discharge, student loans can be discharged if the debtor can prove an “undue hardship,” which usually means you’re living in poverty and not likely to escape any time soon.

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.

George Bellas Business Lawyer
The new drone toy you got for Christmas comes with some heavy federal issues.

When the Federal Aviation Administration established guidelines and licensing procedures for how commercial businesses and operators were permitted to use drones two years ago, the technology’s user base was mostly comprised of two groups: first responders, and photographers and other media types.

The guidelines and procedures laid down sufficed at the time for the purposes of those users; however, during the past two years, drones have become significantly more common in a wider array of industries like agriculture, utility maintenance and professional sports – not to mention the recreational users.

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: