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Inside Business Law Los Angeles

Inside Business Law Los Angeles

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What Does A Business Lawyer Do?
Business Lawyers represent businesses in a variety of cases. Whether representing businesses and entrepreneurs in litigating employment law matters including discrimination, harassment, disability issues, wage and hour resolving contract disputes between business partners or contractors, negotiating and drafting of all manners of business-related contracts, managing compliance with state and local licensing and zoning rules and regulations, or properly forming business entities in California, our attorneys have the expertise and understanding of the Los Angeles business and legal climate to help your business meet all of its legal requirements and challenges.

Forming a Business Entity
We are trusted and experienced. Various business entities provide personal asset protection which shields you from being personally liable for business lawsuits or debts. Our business lawyers will form your new business the correct way, helping you choice the type of entity that best suits your needs, saving you time and money by avoiding costly errors. Let us handle your business formation while you focus on growing your business.

Incorporated Documents
A certificate of incorporation is a legal document relating to the formation of a company or corporation.
Articles of incorporation refers to a set of formal documents filed with a government body to legally document the creation of a corporation. We understand the need for filings to be perfect to save you time and money. You need a lawyer to do this for you so that you can free up vital time to run other parts of your business. There are many types of incorporated documents. We can tell which entity will protect you and your business. For example, articles of incorporation must contain pertinent information, regardless of whether you are forming a C corporation or an S corporation, the company formation document is called the Articles of Incorporation or Certificate of Incorporation. This document provides the state with necessary information on your business.

Contract Law
At McElfish Law Firm, we have years of experience handling contract matters for individuals and businesses throughout Los Angeles. We can assist you with:
• Contract drafting – when drafting a contract, we will receive input from both parties and strive to
write a contract that meets the needs of our client.
• Contract review – our attorneys can review a contract for inconsistencies and unacceptable clauses
before you accept it.
• Contract negotiation – we can negotiate the terms of a contract to assure your interests are
• Contract litigation – in addition to negotiation, we litigate breach of contract issues and other
contract dispute matters. A contract case usually comes before a judge because one or both parties
claim that the contract was breached. A breach of contract is a failure, without legal excuse, to
perform any promise that forms all or part of the contract. Breach of contract is a fairly common
occurrence in the world of business, and happens for various reasons.

Breach of Contract
It’s not uncommon for businesses to find that a distributor, supplier, or other business entity does not deliver on what was agreed upon. When honest discussions fail to bring about results, it may be time to speak with a breach of contract attorney to learn your rights and get what’s owed to you. Work with attorneys who have the experience and who will fight for your rights in making sure those contracts are honored.

At McElfish Law Firm, we represent clients in all types of breach of contract cases, including:
• Failure to pay for a product or services
• Failure to deliver a product or services
• Missed deadlines
• Failure to meet the terms of a secondary agreement, such as a lease, mortgage or loan document
• Disputes over terms in the contract
• Disputes between partners or workers

All McElfish Business Practice Areas

• Business Disputes
• Forming New Business
• Incorporated Documents
• Contract Law
• Construction Defect
• Employment Contracts
• Landlord Representation
• Real Estate & Lease Litigation
• Wage and Benefit Claims
• Construction Law
• Employment Disputes

How We Can Help You

We have the experience to help you or your business achieve the legal results you need even if you do not see your business matter listed in here. Call us today to learn more 310.659.4900.

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Los Angeles Restaurant Law Attorney

Los Angeles Restaurant Law Attorney

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Did you know that we are a boutique litigation law firm practicing many areas of law including restaurant law since 1991 located in the heart of Sunset Strip in West Hollywood? What does this mean for local restaurant owners? It means that we are a community-driven, easy-to-reach, legal services hub ready to assist restaurants and other Los Angeles business owners with any legal disputes that may arise. We give local restaurant owners priority. We have attorneys available with experience as a former Bar/Restaurant owner.

Top Hurdles When Opening a New Restaurant in Los Angeles:

o  New restaurants tend to make investment experts wary because more than half of restaurants fail within their first five years.
o  A lot of inexperienced restaurateurs go into a project under-budgeting it.
o  In Los Angeles owners need at least $1 million in capital or loans to start.
o  Business partners want out of the contract or do not want to renew the lease.
o  Building owners sell the building or increase rent

We have gathered some common issues from restaurant-related cases that we have successfully assisted in mediation or in trial.

Common Litigation Issues Restaurant Owners May Face:

Forming a business entity
Purchase Agreements
Commercial Lease Disputes
Employee Sexual Harassment Claims
Vendor and Distributor Agreements
Employment and/or Labor Issues
Partnership Disputes
Slip and Fall Injuries on Premises

If you own a restaurant, contemplating purchasing or opening up a new restaurant, or you have had any legal situations come up, McElfish Law Firm is here to help resolve your issues. Contact us to discuss how you may benefit from the firm’s specialized services in this area. You may contact our restaurant law attorneys at McElfish by calling (310) 659-4900 or sending us a direct message online www.mcelfishlaw.com.

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Selling Alcohol to Minors

Selling Alcohol to Minors

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Consequences of Selling Alcohol to Minors

Selling Alcohol to Minors? The bane of many a bar owner and restaurateur, obtaining a state liquor license can be one of the hardest things your business ever has to do. But even worse is losing your license for selling alcohol to a minor, after spending months and tens of thousands of dollars to obtain one.


Do I Automatically Lose My Liquor License for Selling Alcohol to a Minor?

No, things are not quite that cut and dry. There are various factors that go into deciding exactly who is punished, and to what degree, if a minor is served alcohol. First of all, although all states do have a 21-year-old minimum for buying and drinking alcohol, it is not a federal law. This means that each state is free to create its own laws, punishments, and agencies. California, for instance, has the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), which is responsible for drafting and enforcing the provisions of the liquor license.

Each state’s agency will have specific enforcement provisions about the punishments for violating a liquor license. In general, the agency is free to revoke a license for ANY offense, even a first one, but in practice, they will usually give first-time offenders a fine, warning, and/or a suspension of the license (usually a week or so). However, if the offense is particularly blatant, the license may be revoked. Also, if you are cited for selling to a minor again within a year of your first citation, many boards automatically revoke your license (some states allow 3 times in one year).

Upon receiving a citation, you can request an administrative hearing to present your side of the story and any mitigating factors you might have or can agree to the punishment and submit.

If your license is revoked, you generally must wait at least six months before applying for another, a process which will be made even more difficult and costly due to the revocation of your record.


If You Sell Alcohol to a Minor, What Is the Fine?

Aside from violating your license, selling to a minor is also a crime. If you are caught selling alcohol to a minor, then there are two sets of penalties given: one to your clerk (who actually made the sale), and one to you, the license holder (the underage minor can also be charged, of course).

  • Licensee – Generally, selling to a minor is considered a class-2 misdemeanor in most states, which means it only carries a 30-day maximum sentence and a small fine (incarceration is unlikely). However, if the minor is under 18 years of age, then it usually increased to a class-1 misdemeanor, which is a full year in jail and a $1,000 fine. In addition, civil penalties will be awarded against the licensee for the vicarious liability of the clerk, starting from $500 and doubling for each offense (if the clerk has not attended any state-mandated training courses, these fines may double). Also, if the licensee himself sells alcohol to a minor, many states will automatically revoke the license.
  • Clerk – The clerk who actually sells the alcohol is liable for all the same penalties as the licensee (that is, he can be arrested for a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor, depending on the age of the minor). The state also imposes other punitive sanctions, like suspending the clerk’s driver’s license for 30 days to a year.

Bear in mind that the range amounts for each fine may be different in each state or jurisdiction. Generally speaking, most jurisdictions will follow similar fine amounts for selling alcohol to a minor.


What If the Minor Used a Fake ID?

In most states, a licensee is only held liable for selling to a minor without asking for any ID. If ID is asked for, and a fake ID indicating the minor is actually 21 is shown, then in almost all cases, no charges will be filed from either the police or from the alcohol control board. The one caveat is that the ID must appear to be reasonably realistic: if it says the minor is 100 years old or is of a different sex or completely different appearance, then you will likely be held liable. But with the prevalence of extremely accurate looking forgeries on the black market, rarely will a bar or liquor store be held liable for accepting a fake ID. The same applies to actual IDs that don’t belong to the minor (i.e. if he uses his older brother’s real driver’s license).

The vast majority of police stings are designed to catch vendors who sell to minors without carding or card them (and get real IDs that say they are minors) and then sell them anyway. So it is very important that your clerks actually do check the ages of any IDs presented. A scanning device to confirm the IDs authenticity (available for little cost), will also go a long way in protecting you from liability, even though many forgeries are now so advanced as to pass this test too.


Do I Need an Attorney?

If you have been cited for selling to a minor, or have even lost your liquor license, you should consult an experienced business attorney immediately.  A good lawyer can help speed up the process of getting a new license or help you during an administrative hearing with an alcohol board. If you’ve been arrested, then you should get a criminal attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

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Restaurants Will Suffer From an Increased Minimum Wage

Restaurants Will Suffer From an Increased Minimum Wage

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Raising the minimum wage will have severe consequences, especially for those working in the restaurant industry.

A higher minimum wage will result in a challenge for restaurants, which depend heavily on hourly workers. The increased cost of labor will likely cause higher costs to customers. Restaurants could also cut hours or the number of employees they have while relying more on computers to service customers, or ownership will be forced to take on shifts themselves to defray costs or significantly raise the price of their product. Some restaurants may even be forced to close.

In Los Angeles, instead of increasing menu prices some restaurants are eliminating tipping and instituting a “service charge.” A service charge is restaurant property, whereas tips are the property of the server. Currently, servers average 20% tip. After paying out support staff they usually take home about 14% of the total sales for the night. This would prevent businesses from passing the cost onto the customer. If businesses keep raising prices, the consumer loses and eventually may stop consuming. With nowhere for business owners to hide from the minimum wage increase (say, in other neighboring municipalities) except out of state, Los Angeles could be in the same boat, for better or worse, as every other city in the state.

It is important to contact your attorney to make sure you understand and are in compliance with the new minimum wage laws that have been enacted in the city of Los Angeles.

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California Business Licenses

California Business Licenses

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What Is a Business License?

A business license or permit is generally recommended, and sometimes required, for individuals or businesses to operate in California. Business licenses exist at the local, state, and federal level. Licenses and permits cover almost every type of business activity, such as building construction, restaurants and nightclubs, retail sales and the ability to work as a licensed professional.

What Determines the Licenses I Need?

The type of licenses or permits you will need depends on several factors, including:
•Your profession or occupation
•Whether you are an employer or an independent contractor
•Your industry and business activities
•Your place(s) of business

Professional Licenses in California

Depending on your profession, you may need to obtain a license to practice in California, even if you have been previously licensed in a different state. The licensing requirements vary by profession, and many are issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs. A few of the professions for which a license is required are:

•Healthcare Practitioners
•Alcohol Sales
•Food Sales
•Aestheticians and Cosmetologists
•Real Estate Brokers and Agents
•Security Guards

Do I Need Any Local Permits?

Local permits are dependent on city and county requirements and ordinances. Local licenses and permits are common for items such as:
•Construction or renovation
•Health permits
•Zoning permits
•Local business licenses

License and permit requirements vary, so to be sure, you should check with your local authorities.

How Can I Find Out If I Need a Professional License?

You should always check with your local authorities in the city or county where you plan to work or operate a business.
Should I Consult a Business Attorney in California?

Applying for business licenses and permits may not require the help of an attorney. However, if you are setting up a new business, an experienced business attorney can help provide guidance on permits, as well as other business organization issues. If you have been charged with criminal or civil penalties for a failure to have a proper permit, an attorney can help defend you.

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California Dram Shop Laws

California Dram Shop Laws

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What Is a Dram Shop Law?

A dram shop law is a type of statute which holds any business establishment strictly liable for selling alcoholic beverages to a person who is obviously intoxicated. The purpose of dram shop laws or acts is to increase the responsibility of those who make profits by tendering alcoholic beverages to guests. The word “dram” refers to a British unit of measurement for serving alcohol.

Dram shop laws usually deal with prohibiting alcohol sales to intoxicated persons, but sometimes they may also cover the sale of alcohol to minors, as well as issues with licenses and identification. Most states have some form of these types of laws, but they vary widely between jurisdictions.

What Is California’s Dram Shop Law?

Dram Shop laws in California are extremely limited. Recent California legislation has removed the strict liability for businesses who serve alcohol to patrons. It should be noted that this limitation only applies in civil court. Criminal law penalties may still apply to businesses who serve alcohol to obviously intoxicated persons. It should also be noted that the limitation on civil penalties protects licensed alcohol vendors but provides no protection to hosts of parties or other social events where alcohol is served.

Despite California’s limitation on holding liquor stores or bars responsible for selling alcohol to persons who are obviously intoxicated, California establishments still may be held liable for serving alcohol to a minor who subsequently injures another person as a result of being intoxicated.

Why Is There No Civil Dram Shop Liability in California?

The rationale behind the California legislature’s decision to limit civil liability for serving alcohol to an intoxicated individual is that it is often difficult to determine who is at fault if an intoxicated person gets into an accident after consuming alcohol. Strict liability implies that the business establishment must have caused the accident by serving the person alcohol.

Nevertheless, California case law has held that the consumption of alcohol, and not the serving of alcohol, is the proximate cause in the case of an accident. Thus, the sale of alcohol by bars and liquor stores in California is not considered to be the cause of an automobile accident.

Do I Need a California Lawyer for a Dram Shop Claim?
Whether you are a business owner or a party or event host, it is important to retain a lawyer if you have been charged with negligently providing alcohol in civil or criminal court. This is especially true if the incident involves the sale of alcohol to a minor.

Dram shop violations, like many other areas of law, can be complicated. Hiring an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you meet all the various court requirements and deadlines for your claim. A qualified lawyer will help you understand the legal basis for any claim against you and can also help you resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

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