Legal and strategic planning, problem analysis, and litigation.
While I work in all areas except criminal law and divorce, the subject areas in which I have spent most from my working hours include the following:
- Business Litigation
- Business Planning for complex business relationships
- Non-profit organizations
- Probate & Estate Planning
- Wills & Trusts
- General Practice
- Labor & Employment
- Wrongful Death
- Premises Liability
- I also serve as a case evaluator in Jackson County Circuit Court.
From the beginning of my legal career until 2014 as a member of Bullen, Moilanen, Klaasen & Swan, P.C., I represented a photo trade association which grew to about 20,000 members throughout the United States and in about 120 countries. In 2014, the industry for photo retailers and photo processors collapsed due to digital images and big box stores.
My work included the association's own internal business activities, the relationship to the members and other trade associations, and matters that were of concern to the businesses operated by the industry members. I was directly involved in litigating major topics of interest to the photo industry on behalf of its members. The primary litigation issues included 1) obtaining available manufacturing tax exemptions from state governments for an industry long perceived as a service business; 2) avoiding liability for lost or damaged film, 3) avoiding possession and processing of images that were considered obscene or which involved child pornography, and 4) protecting copyrights and avoiding liability for violating the Copyright Act when reproducing images for customers. Other legal issues included concerns about antitrust,unemploy-ment taxation on independent contractors, and wastewater environmental regulations and statutes affecting the reclamation and discharge of silver from photo processing waste.
In the course of dealing with these issues that affected thousands of association members, I spent a lot of time with the Departments of Revenue in various states, and then participating as lead counsel in tax assessment hearings, and subsequent appeals or claims in court to obtain the exemption. I appeared in court to represent members who were being audited, or being subjected to claims of antitrust liability. I prepared reports and articles and frequently spoke to industry members individually and in formal convention sessions to discuss the issues and methods to avoid liability. I also prepared position statements and lead or coordinated efforts to adopt or defeat proposed legislation or regulations which affected the photo industry.
Besides the work done for members of the photo industry, the association itself had legal issue arising out of its regular business matters. The association was a large operation, with all of the related legal affairs of any business. The business half of photo association work included labor and employment issues, negotiating and preparing contracts with national hotel chains, convention centers, exhibitors, suppliers, writers, advertising sales representatives, and publishers as well setting up corporate entities and governance systems for local "divisions" and "chapters" of members. Trademark protection and litigation were also a part of the work.
The association was international in scope. I hired, coordinated and directed a team of lawyers in international offices to establish and advise the client, including in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I was involved in developing a strategy for international offices and frequently traveled to the countries to negotiate with the people involved. A part of the work included negotiating and preparing documents for "mergers" with other non-profit organizations in the United States and in Europe and Australia.
Although the photo industry was a substantial client, it occupied less than one-half of my time. The non-photo industry portion of my legal practice includes a broad general practice. I provide business analysis of proposed ventures, and provide advice and prepare documents pertaining to business entities and their owners and employees. Frequently clients came to me after their problems arose, and I handled the litigation among owners or between businesses and sales representatives, suppliers, and customers. Property disputes with neighbors or zoning officials were discussed or litigated. Some personal injury cases, for both defense and plaintiff, continue to be a part of my practice.