Laura Martin was one of twenty-eight attorneys from across the State of Tennessee selected to participate in the Tennessee Bar Assocation Leadership Program. She recently graduated from the program during the Tennessee Bar Assocation's annual convention in Memphis in June. Now in its 15th year, the TBA Leadership Program equips Tennessee lawyers with the vision, knowledge and skills necessary to serve as leaders in their profession and local communities, including policymaking in state government and the importance of community service. Congratulations to Laura on this impressive accomplishment!Read More
"A Line the High Court Shouldn’t Cross: Plaintiffs ask the justices to impose proportional representation, European-style, across the U.S.," an opinion piece by Harris Shelton member, John Ryder, was featured in The Wall Street Journal.Read More
Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh, PLLC is pleased to announce the addition of Jerry Potter, David Monypeny, Tim Hayes, Jr., Karen Koplon, Jonathan Martin, and Taylor Davidson to the firm’s Memphis office.Read More
MEMPHIS, Tenn., August 23, 2017 – Memphis-based law firm Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh announces 24 of the firm’s lawyers were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2018 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, including four receiving the top distinction of Best Lawyers 2018 "Lawyer of the Year.” Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on a peer-review survey of 7.4 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the United States. Attorneys are reviewed on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to ensure attorneys are in current practice and in good standing.
The following attorneys were named to this year’s list:
- Rice Byars, Jr.
- Susan Callison
- Christopher Campbell
- Anderson Cobb, Jr.
- Steven N. Douglass
- Charles Drennon
- William Dunlap, Jr.
- Allison T. Gilbert
- A. Neal Graham
- Jeffrey L. Griffin
- Timothy Hayes, Jr.
- Brett Hughes
- James B. Jalenak
- Philip Kaminsky
- James L. Kirby
- J. Matthew Kirby
- Barbara Lapides
- Edward McKenney, Jr.
- Jerry O. Potter
- John Ryder
- J. Max Shelton
- Kevin Walsh
- George Wheeler
- James D. Wilson
In addition, four Harris Shelton attorneys were named as Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year.” These honorees are awarded this designation based on their extremely high overall feedback within specific practice areas and metropolitan regions. Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year” recognitions were awarded in 133 practice areas across 185 metropolitan regions.
- G. Rice Byars, Jr., trusts and estates
- Steven N. Douglass, litigation – bankruptcy
- Barbara Lapides, municipal law
- Edward J. McKenney, Jr., employment law - management
“We are pleased to be named alongside some of the most distinguished and well-respected lawyers in the United States,” said Brett Hughes, Harris Shelton Managing Partner. “We are extremely proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of our exceptional Harris Shelton legal professionals.”
Attorneys named to The Best Lawyers in America were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 145 practice areas. For the 2018 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America, 7.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 58,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. To learn more about Best Lawyers, please visit, www.bestlawyers.com.
About Harris Shelton
Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC handles a wide variety of legal matters for a diverse group of clients. The firm has two offices in Memphis, Tennessee, and an office in Oxford, Mississippi, and is also active regionally, nationally and internationally. The firm is a result of the joining of two of Memphis’ oldest law firms, Harris, Shelton, Dunlap, Cobb & Ryder and Hanover, Walsh, Jalenak & Blair, representing more than 150 combined years of legal counsel to business and individuals. For more information, please visit www.harrisshelton.com.
About Best Lawyers®
Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the world. For more than 30 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the attorneys best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Best Lawyers lists are published in leading local, regional, and national publications across the globe.Read More
Christopher S. Campbell has been appointed to the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization by the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Campbell will serve a three-year term that runs through 2019. In this role, he will monitor CLE requirements and administer specialization programs for attorneys.Read More
Latham Oates has joined Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC as an of-counsel attorney at the firm’s East Memphis location. Oates focuses his legal practice in real estate law, working with clients on residential, commercial and construction matters. He has more than 30 years’ experience practicing law in the Memphis area.
John Ryder was recently named the 2016 Republican Lawyer of the Year by the Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association. Ryder was chosen for the honor because of his outstanding professional accomplishments and years of service to the Republican Party and its ideals. For the full story, click here.Read More
Ways to Offset or Alleviate Property Tax Burden
By Billy Moss
Owning and managing real property is a vital component of day-to-day operations for companies and organizations of all sizes, as well as many individuals. Whether you operate a small business, corporation or nonprofit, the tax obligation associated with the business’s property can either be an expected fiscal requirement or financial nightmare. Knowing applicable deductions for your business is key to avoiding the latter. For instance, here are three ways that owners of real property in Tennessee can offset or eliminate city and county tax burdens:
1. Appealing the property appraisal. Residential, commercial or agricultural property owners may appeal the county Assessor of Property’s appraisal of their property. The assessor will accept applications for informal reviews to be evaluated internally. If the result of the informal review is not favorable, then the taxpayer/owner may timely appeal to the county Board of Equalization. These appeals may be based on one or all of the following: 1. The property is appraised at more than its total fair market value; 2. The property is not equitably appraised compared with similar surrounding properties; 3. The property is not properly classified. While the deadline for appeals to the Board of Equalization for tax year 2016 was in June for most counties, the Shelby County Assessor will reappraise Shelby County property beginning in 2017. Informal reviews can be submitted now and a formal appeal can be made after the reappraisal in 2017.
2. Greenbelt Law. Owners of nonresidential and noncommercial land may qualify for what is known as Tennessee’s Greenbelt Law. There are three types of property that may qualify: agricultural land – land which constitutes a farm, actively engaging in growing crops or plants or raising animals; forest land – land consisting of more than 15 acres used for growing trees under a “sound program of sustained yield management”; or open space – containing more than three acres and maintained in an open or natural condition which has a conservational effect on natural resources by providing a setting for people who might not otherwise have access to such a place and providing relief from “urban sprawl.” Property that qualifies is assessed at 25 percent of its use value, computed by utilizing a particular formula. Applications for inclusion in Greenbelt are due by March 1 of each calendar year.
3. Exemption status. Property or a part thereof, owned by any religious, charitable, scientific or nonprofit educational institution may be exempt from property taxation if said institution meets certain statutory requirements. The requirements are numerous and contained in the written application. An application for exemption must be filed with the Tennessee State Board of Equalization by May 20 of the year for which exemption is sought and a fee must be paid. If an application is denied, there is a subsequent appeal available to an administrative law judge.
Billy Moss, an attorney at Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC who focuses his legal practice in real estate law, banking and financial institutions, and business and corporate law, can be reached at 901-682-1455 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
On May 11, 2016, President Obama signed the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) into law, the culmination of a bipartisan effort to create a federal system of trade secrets law.
Here are a few employer takeaways from the Act:
- The DTSA, which the House passed by an overwhelming 410-2 vote, will allow companies for the first time to file civil lawsuits for trade secrets theft under the federal Economic Espionage Act under 18 U.S.C. § 1832. The statute previously provided only for criminal cases lodged by prosecutors. Private civil cases were required to be filed under applicable state law and typically meant many trade secrets cases remained in state courts unless the parties could prove federal jurisdiction, either through diversity of jurisdiction or assertion of separate claims filed under a federal statute. Though most states follow a blueprint laid out by the so-called “Uniform Trade Secrets Act,” these laws still vary from state to state; and, for companies that believe their secrets were stolen (or those accused of taking them), it lead to the potential for application of differing laws and results based merely on geographic location.
- Two of the primary stated goals of the DTSA are to further harmonize the law pertaining to trade secrets through a single federal statute allowing for the development of more uniform, nationwide case law and to give litigants easier access to federal courts.
- Under the DTSA, all employers are now required to provide a notice of “whistleblower”-type immunity to employees and contractors “in any contract or agreement with an employee [or independent contractor] that governs the use of a trade secret or other confidential information.” Failure to comply with this notice requirement will prevent the employer from being able to seek exemplary double-damages or attorney fees available under the statute if the employer later sues the employee or independent contractor for trade secret misappropriation.
- The DTSA also contains a so-called seizure provision that allows plaintiffs to ask courts to order law enforcement officials to seize any property "necessary to prevent the propagation or dissemination of the trade secret" if certain requirements under the Act are met.
- Notably, the DTSA does not preempt the state laws already pertaining to trade secrets. As with federal trademark law under the Lanham Act, the DTSA will co-exist with individual states’ trade secrets laws.
Also, while still on board with ramping up US trade secrecy law through the DTSA, the White House and U.S. Treasury Department have recently released new reports criticizing the use of non-compete agreements and state laws that over-zealously enforce those agreements. Although the reports recognize that non-compete agreements are wrapped up with trade secrecy enforcement, the reports suggest that many non-competes are not used for that purpose. The reports note that non-competes can play a beneficial role when used in a limited way, but also opine that evidence suggests, in certain cases, non-competes can reduce the welfare of workers and hamper the efficiency of the economy as a whole by depressing wages, limiting mobility and inhibiting innovation. It remains to be seen what impact these reports may have on Courts dealing with enforcement of such agreements. Copies of the reports may be found here:Read More
Harris Shelton attorney Michael Rafferty is involved in a case that is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall of 2016 (Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands). Rafferty represents Star Athletica along with IP counsel in New York and a Supreme Court specialist in Grand Rapids. Varsity claims Star’s cheerleading uniforms infringe Varsity’s copyrighted designs. The trial court ruled that Varsity’s two-dimensional copyrights could not be used to prevent Star from making three-dimensional uniforms, a split appellate court panel reversed, and the Supreme Court has agreed to address an issue the dissenting judge said is “a mess.”
The case involves the amount of protection provided by the copyright of a design of a useful article. Useful articles are not protectable by copyright, and neither are designs of useful articles, except to the extent design elements are separable. And although the case involves the design of cheerleading uniforms, the issue has broader implications for the fashion industry as well as other non-clothing businesses. An amicus brief, also known as a friend of the court brief, was filed by 3-D printers who argued the appellate court’s ruling would adversely affect their industry.
The case involves a simple concept that courts have found to be very difficult to apply. One judge described the question as presenting a “metaphysical quandary,” while other judges have said that courts have “twisted themselves in knots” in tackling the issue.
For years, fashion designers have lobbied Congress to expand the copyright law to provide more protection, but an acceptable compromise has never been achieved.
The case will be briefed this summer, and oral argument in Washington is expected in late October or early November of this year. The Supreme Court could rule as early as the end of the year, but more probably, its decision will be announced in early 2017.
Read more about it here:Read More
The 2015 Hiscox Guide to Employee Lawsuits reports that U.S. companies have at least an 11.7 percent chance of having an employment charge filed against them. In Tennessee, the odds increase to nearly 32 percent. Arkansas and Mississippi are also above the national average, with a 42 percent chance in Arkansas and a 51 percent chance in Mississippi.
While an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, sometimes even the savviest business owners are faced with an employee lawsuit. In Tennessee, employees are required to file a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a suit, so an employer should receive notice of a discrimination claim before a lawsuit is filed. However, certain employee claims, such as ones for unpaid overtime, wrongful discharge and whistleblower actions do not require administrative review before a lawsuit can be filed. Often, an employer has no idea that an employee has an issue until after a lawsuit is filed.
Employee lawsuits can be a heavy burden to bear for small-business owners, so it’s important to know what to do and when to do it.
Less talk, more action. It might be tempting to contact an employee directly if a lawsuit has been filed, but it is never a good idea to communicate directly about the lawsuit. Any communication with the plaintiff or his or her attorney must be avoided. You should contact your lawyer and insurance representative immediately and send a copy of everything you received.
Act quickly. Tennessee courts require that you respond to the complaint within 30 days from the date you were served, and your lawyer will need time to investigate the claim and prepare the appropriate response. Because there are specific rules for properly serving a lawsuit, make sure you tell your lawyer how you or your business was served. Finally, you must preserve all emails, text messages, video surveillance, etc., that could be relevant to the case.
Communicate with your lawyer. It is important to understand the claims being made against you so that you can help your lawyer prepare a legal strategy. You should also ask your lawyer about potential financial losses if the plaintiff is successful. Discuss the costs of defending the lawsuit, the length of time it could take to bring the case to trial and the benefit of settling early, as well.
Being sued can be very frustrating for a small-business owner. However, it is important that you set aside emotions and focus on the best course of action, taking into account the plaintiff’s potential for recovery and estimated defense costs. If you work with your lawyer early in the case to develop a smart defensive strategy, you will save money and hassle in the long run.Read More
With the April 15 tax deadline just around the corner, some may be scrambling to get the necessary paperwork together. One item that can be difficult to find, but that can be very important relates to community giving.
While businesses and individuals alike support causes they are passionate about for the greater good of the community, those donations are also tax write-offs and can bring about significant savings when filing taxes. However, there are very specific rules and regulations to abide by in order for the government to monitor the various types of charitable giving. Our tax attorneys at Harris Shelton work with accountants to help ensure all legalities related to tax preparation are met. There are different levels of tax breaks depending on the identities of the nonprofit (receiver) or businesses/individual (payer), as well as the type of donation - in-kind, monetary, etc. And, the regulations for each can change annually. That being said, it is important to keep a record of all personal and business donations, even if you don't think there is a write-off opportunity available. You could be pleasantly surprised. The recent PATH Act of 2015 brought to light lesser-known tax breaks for charitable donations, including beneficial changes pertaining to:
- Food donations from businesses with food inventory
- Land donations for conservation efforts
- Monetary donations given directly from an IRA
In addition, the PATH Act also accounts for non-charity-related tax provisions. Overall, it includes more than $620 billion in tax reductions for families and businesses.
Working with a certified tax expert can help ensure that, whether you are a business or individual, you are rewarded for your citizenship. For more information, contact any of the firm's attorneys who specialize in taxation, Neal Graham, Dee Hobbs or Chad Roberts.Read More