| Read Time: 5 minutes | Business Law

Small Business Lawyers: How They Can Help You

Running your own business can be rewarding work. For many, it’s a dream come true.  But if you currently own a business, or even if you are in the early stages of starting your own business, you know just how much there is to do and how complicated it can be.  Regardless of where you are in the business ownership process, you may have at some point considered whether you should hire an attorney. But you might be asking yourself, What does a small business lawyer do?  Many people wonder whether an attorney can actually provide value to their business. In reality, an experienced small business lawyer can help your business in countless ways.  The business lawyers at Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law can provide invaluable services to your Texas small business. From legal research and advice to in-court business litigation disputes, we have what it takes to be your Texas small business law firm. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your business needs and see how our attorneys can help you.  What Does a Small Business Lawyer Do?  Lawyers help clients understand the law and navigate legal disputes. But what does a small business lawyer do, specifically?  A well-qualified small business lawyer will be able to provide a wide array of legal services. Below are some of the services we frequently provide to our Texas small business clients.  Business Formation Before starting a business, there are a number of key decisions you must make and legal requirements you must comply with.  Do you want to set your business up as an LLC, a partnership, a corporation, or some other type of entity? How do you go about registering your business with the Texas Secretary of State?  An experienced small business attorney can help you navigate these crucial questions and many more as you formally set up your business. At Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law, we can assist you with all aspects of the business formation process. Our Texas business formation attorneys can help:  Determine the right entity type for your small business; Advise on tax implications and personal liability protections; Draft and file any necessary corporate formation documents; Apply for an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS; and Provide valuable advice and counsel moving forward.  Setting up your Texas small business correctly is crucial to its future success. The wrong decisions at the outset can lead to problems down the road that may be costly and time-consuming to correct. Thus, make sure to have someone in your corner with the knowledge and legal expertise to put your business in the best position possible. Business Transactions Sometimes, you might need an attorney to help your business with transactional matters.  If your business is preparing for a corporate merger or acquisition, it is almost always recommended to engage an experienced legal professional to advise you throughout the process.  Our attorneys regularly assist our small business clients with negotiating business transactions and drafting necessary documents to get deals to close. We will also work in consultation with your CPA to ensure that we do what is in the best interest of your business.  Contract Drafting and Review No matter what type of business you own, you will almost certainly require contracts at some point or another.  Examples of commonly used business contracts include:  Partnership agreements,  Operating agreements,  Indemnity agreements,  Nondisclosure agreements,  Property and equipment leases,  Purchase orders,  Security agreements,  Employment contracts,  Independent contractor agreements, and  Noncompete agreements.  Contracts are legal documents. Thus, it is imperative that you have an attorney who can draft and/or review any documents that may be critical to the success of your business and ensure that they are valid and enforceable. At Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law, we recognize that each business is unique and will have different needs. That’s why we will work with you to review and draft contracts that are tailored to fit your business.  Intellectual Property As your business grows, you may discover it is time to hire a small business attorney to help protect and pursue your intellectual property rights.  Many people think that intellectual property is reserved exclusively for rights in inventions. Thus, they mistakenly believe that if they are not an inventor, they do not need an IP attorney. However, this is not the case.  While patent rights are of course one important category of intellectual property rights, trademarks and copyrights are two other important intellectual property rights that are applicable to many small businesses.  An experienced small business lawyer can help you register trademarks and copyrights you may use in connection with your business. Doing so can help you build and grow your overall brand.  Additionally, by registering your trademarks and/or copyrights, you put the general public on notice of your intellectual property. If someone attempts to infringe on your validly registered IP, a small business attorney can help you take legal action to enforce and safeguard your rights moving forward.  Business Disputes and Litigation No matter how smoothly your business runs, there is always a possibility that a dispute will arise.  Small business disputes come in many forms. Examples of common legal disputes that might arise in the course of your business include:  Partnership disputes,  Breach of contract disputes,  Customer disputes,  Employment disputes, and Disputes with other businesses.  No matter what type of legal dispute your business is facing, it’s no secret that it can cost you both time and money to resolve. However, hiring a small business lawyer can often lead to a more efficient and cost-effective resolution.  If and when a dispute does arise, don’t be left wondering where to turn. The attorneys at Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law are trained negotiators ready to fight for your rights. We will work to effectively and efficiently resolve your dispute. Why Hire Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law as Your Small Business Lawyers So, what does a small business lawyer do? A well-qualified small business attorney will be able to assist you with just about anything that...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Estate Planning

When to Start Your Estate Planning (in Texas)

If you have lost a loved one before, you know just how difficult it can be to manage their estate and affairs in the aftermath of their passing. Matters can become even more complicated if your loved one did not leave behind a comprehensive estate plan.  Everyone will die some day—this is just an unavoidable fact of life. And while you may not necessarily want to think about this, it is important to do so sooner rather than later. But exactly when should you start estate planning for yourself?  The short answer is that it is never too early to get started on creating your estate plan. At Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law, we know just how important it is to have a comprehensive estate plan in place that is created with your particular needs in mind. If you have questions about when to start your estate planning and how to get started when you are ready, give our estate planning attorneys a call today. Common Estate Planning Questions Before getting into when you should start your estate planning, it is important to have a general understanding of what an estate plan is and when yours will come into play.  Most people have heard of the term “estate planning” at some point or another. But if you don’t know exactly what that means in a practical sense, don’t worry—you are not alone. In fact, there are many misconceptions about what constitutes an estate plan and when you might need one. Below are some commonly asked estate planning questions to help guide you through the beginning stages of creating your own estate plan.  What Documents Are Typically Included in an Estate Plan? Many people believe that creating an estate plan is synonymous with creating a will. However, this is not necessarily the case. A last will and testament is certainly an important estate planning document. However, a comprehensive estate plan will contain additional documents as well.  Below are some examples of documents that you might want to consider including in your estate plan:  Last will and testament,  Revocable living trust, Pour-over will,  Financial power of attorney, Medical power of attorney, Directive to physicians, HIPAA waiver,  Final disposition instructions, and  Guardianship nominations for minor children (if applicable).  A comprehensive estate plan will go over more than just who you wish to leave your assets to after your passing. Contact our Texas estate planning attorneys today to discuss what estate planning documents are right for your unique circumstances. Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?  Of course, one of the primary reasons people create an estate plan is to better ensure that their property and assets end up where they belong. But there is more to estate planning than just distribution of assets after your passing.  Who will manage my finances if I become incapacitated but am still alive? How do I let my loved ones know my end-of-life decisions? Who do I designate to make medical decisions on my behalf in the event I am unable to make such decisions for myself?  These are questions that will often be addressed in a comprehensive estate plan.  So, why do you need an estate plan? There are a number of valuable reasons:  Clearly delineate your intentions regarding the distribution of your assets after your passing;  Sleep easier knowing that you have organized your affairs for the future;  Better protect the people you love;  Avoid potential legal disputes that may otherwise arise without an estate plan in place; and  Give your family peace of mind.  When someone passes away, it is always most difficult on their loved ones. And when someone dies without an estate plan in place, this nearly always results in a more complicated, time-consuming, and emotionally draining process for their loved ones.  No person knows your wishes better than you do. Thus, protect your legacy and your loved ones by making sure you have all the necessary documents in place for your estate plan. Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Create My Estate Plan?  Of course, there is no legal requirement in Texas stating that you must have your estate planning documents drafted by an attorney. In fact, Texas law specifically permits what are called “holographic,” or handwritten, wills.  Nevertheless, wills and other estate planning documents are legal documents. Thus, there are many additional laws and best practices surrounding their drafting and execution. In an effort to ensure that all your documents are legally binding and enforceable, it is best to have an estate planning professional draft your documents and guide you through the process. Many people mistakenly believe that they cannot afford to hire an attorney to draft their estate planning documents. In reality, you cannot afford not to.  At Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law, we want to make estate planning documents as accessible as possible. That’s why we offer affordable pricing and flat fees for both will-based and trust-based estate planning packages.  So When Should You Start Estate Planning?  Don’t wait—get started on your estate planning today.  This life is precious. And as cliché as it may sound, it is also uncertain and can change in an instant. Thus, it is never too early to start getting your affairs in order.  People frequently believe that estate planning is reserved for the elderly, but this is not the case at all. All adults should have an estate plan in place, no matter their age or stage of life.  So if you are wondering whether it’s time to start estate planning, the answer is yes! It is best to do so as soon as possible just to be safe. Your Austin, TX Estate Planning Attorneys If you are searching for a Texas estate planning firm who will provide you with unparalleled services and attention, look no further than Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law.  Legal documents are complex, but we make it simple. Based in Austin, TX, our firm has helped countless clients achieve the peace of mind that comes with creating a comprehensive estate plan.  Your family is unique—your estate planning...

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| Read Time: 7 minutes | Healthcare Business Law

How to Sell a Medical Practice in Texas: Step by Step Guide

This comprehensive guide explains how to Sell a Medical Practice in 2021. We will review the most important things to consider before you move forward with your decision. A physician may sell their medical practice for a variety of reasons. For some, a well-deserved retirement is on the horizon, while others may be seeking a better opportunity elsewhere. A sudden illness or relocation are also motives to sell. Our guide is intended to help physicians navigate this complex process. Related Article: How to Buy a Medical Practice in 2021 [What You Should Know] For assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call (512) 410-0343 today. Build Your Team Selling a medical practice involves many legal, financial, and practical considerations. To navigate through these issues, you should recruit a team of professionals to assist you. Having experts to guide and advise you through the process will maximize the value of your practice.  The key is to build your team early in the process. While it may be tempting to jumpstart the sale process by guesstimating your practice’s value and seeking potential buyers, you could get stuck in an unfavorable situation. What may start as an informal negotiation could end up as a legally binding obligation. At a minimum, your team should consist of an attorney, accountant, and valuation expert.  Healthcare Business Law Attorney A competent healthcare attorney, experienced in the purchase and sale of medical practices, is invaluable. An attorney can assist you with the following: Compliance with state and federal healthcare laws, Due diligence, Employee and staff relations, Management of patient records,  Open contracts with third parties, and All legal documents related to the sale. Your attorney will help negotiate the terms of the sale and ensure that you do not have any unexpected obligations after it is complete. Certified Public Accountant (CPA) A CPA is integral to determining the accurate value of a medical practice. Having a CPA to create financial statements will provide a clear picture of the business’s financial status. Your CPA will also explain the tax implications of the transaction, which will help determine the type of agreement you enter into and how to structure the sale. Valuation Expert  Your medical practice’s value is the core of the entire transaction. The value affects the list price, attracts buyers, and sets the standard for the final purchase price. A health care valuation expert will perform extensive research and analysis on your medical practice to determine its fair market value, considering both tangible and intangible assets.  Valuing Your Medical Practice The valuation of the medical practice is what drives most of the negotiations toward a final purchase price. The fair market value (FMV) is the standard for valuing a practice. FMV is defined as the result of an arms-length transaction between an informed, willing buyer and an informed, willing seller. To value a medical practice, an appraiser will consider many factors, including: The nature and history of the business, Book value and financial condition, Economic outlook, Earning capacity, Fixed assets such as equipment and real estate, Goodwill and other intangible assets, Post-transaction compensation, and  Market comparables.  It is important to note that the FMV of the medical practice is not the same as the purchase price. Rather, the FMV is the basis upon which the parties determine the purchase price.  Find Multiple Buyers Having multiple offers could increase the value of your practice. The best way to locate potential buyers is to contact prospects, such as hospitals, colleagues, and competitors, and let them know you are considering selling your practice. Pre-Purchase Steps Many preliminary steps lead up to the final purchase of the medical practice. Preliminary Agreements To provide security for yourself, there are several preliminary agreements you should consider before investing time and money into the potential sale of your medical practice.  Letter of intent  Once you have a prospective buyer, consider executing a non-binding letter of intent. The parties can preliminarily resolve issues within the letter and outline the tasks to complete before entering into a purchase agreement. The letter of intent serves as a roadmap for the transaction.  Confidentiality and non-solicitation agreement As part of the due diligence process, the buyer will have access to confidential information of the practice, such as financial statements and employee and patient lists. To protect this information, you may want the buyer to sign a confidentiality and non-solicitation agreement. The terms of the agreement would prohibit the buyer from disclosing the information for purposes other than performing due diligence. The agreement would also bar any solicitation of employees and patients of the practice until after the sale. Structure of the Sale  You and the buyer must agree on whether the medical practice’s sale will be a stock purchase or asset purchase. A stock purchase is when the buyer purchases the entire business, taking complete ownership and acquiring all assets and liabilities. In an asset purchase, the seller remains the practice’s legal owner and the buyer purchases only specific assets, such as equipment, licenses, inventory, and goodwill. There are significant legal and tax implications to either type of sale. Your CPA and attorney can guide you on this and advise on which option best suits your needs. Due Diligence Both the buyer and seller will go through their own due diligence process. The buyer’s due diligence will involve learning the ins and outs of the medical practice to ensure that the business is accurately portrayed. To accomplish this, the buyer will do the following:  Examine financial records, including tax returns and financial statements; Review all assets and liabilities;  Ensure compliance with applicable healthcare laws and regulations; Understand the billing and coding process of the practice; Assess all current working relationships; Review all open contracts, such as supply contracts and lease agreements; and  Analyze any ongoing litigation matters. The seller’s due diligence is not quite as lengthy as the buyer’s but just as important to the transaction’s success. Ensure compliance with the corporate practice of medicine The corporate practice of...

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Healthcare Business Law

How to Buy a Medical Practice in Texas [Step by Step]

This is a step-by-step guide on How to Buy a Medical Practice in 2021. Purchasing a practice is an incredible undertaking and a complex process. In this guide, you will learn how to acquire a medical practice and better understand the factors you should consider before making a final buying decision. Whether you want to expand your current practice or go completely solo, there are many practical, legal, and financial considerations. Our guide is intended to help you navigate this purchasing process. Related Article: How to Sell a Medical Practice in 2021 [Step by Step] For further assistance, please send us a message or call (512) 410-0343 today. Decide What You Are Looking For When considering a practice to purchase, you need to determine whether it fits your lifestyle and personality, not just your medical expertise. Here are some important considerations: Culture—do you see yourself working in that kind of atmosphere? Location—are you happy with the location of the practice, from the neighborhood to the actual building itself? Management style—are the services, policies, practices, and procedures within your skillset and something you are comfortable with? Staff—will the staff remain with the practice, or will you have to hire new employees? Patients—are the current patients the demographic you are comfortable providing medical care to long term? You also need to know whether you want a stock purchase or asset purchase. In a stock purchase, the buyer takes full ownership of the entire practice, including all assets and liabilities. In an asset purchase, the buyer purchases only certain assets, such as customer accounts, medical equipment, and services contracts. There are significant legal and tax consequences to both options. An experienced Texas healthcare attorney can walk you through both purchase types and make recommendations based on your goals.  Corporate Practice of Medicine There are limitations on who can practice medicine and provide medical services. The Corporate Practice of Medicine (CPOM) is a legal doctrine that protects patients from the commercialization of medicine. Creators of the CPOM feared that health care providers would make decisions based on increasing profits as opposed to providing quality care. Under Texas’s CPOM doctrine, unless they meet an exception, corporations and business entities cannot practice medicine in the state. Additionally, corporations and non-physicians cannot employ a physician to provide health care services in Texas.  The CPOM is applicable when choosing how to structure the purchase of a medical practice. If the transaction is an asset purchase, you need to select an entity type that will be buying the assets. This entity must comply with the CPOM. Letter of Intent Once you choose a medical practice to purchase, you may consider agreeing to a non-binding letter of intent. The letter memorializes certain expectations and obligations of the parties. It is also a way to preliminarily resolve issues before going further into the purchase process. A comprehensive letter of intent sets the groundwork for the purchase agreement. Valuation The practice’s valuation is at the center of most negotiations in the purchase of a medical practice. Appraisers use the fair market value standard, which is the price that results from a bargained-for exchange between a willing, informed buyer and a willing, informed seller.  It is best to hire your own valuation expert to confirm the seller’s value of the practice. Do not blindly agree to the seller’s valuation. The seller’s broker may inflate the valuation because most brokers are commission-based, so they have an incentive to increase the value. Additionally, medical practice owners often include their sweat equity in the valuation. When you work with an appraiser, as a neutral party, he or she can provide a more accurate valuation.  Due Diligence Due diligence is an investigation of the facts and details of a company. The buyer’s due diligence process is more extensive than the seller’s. For the purchase of a medical practice, the buyer’s due diligence typically requires a review of the following: Financial statements, Assets, Books and records, Tax returns, Accounts receivable, Personnel files, Employee agreements, Patient charts, Insurance policies, and List of creditors. The buyer will also want to perform a physical inspection of the premises where the medical practice is located. The building and premises should be in compliance with all applicable building and zoning ordinances, For any third-party leases or contracts belonging to the medical practice, the buyer should know which contracts are assignable. Some contracts are essential to the operation of the practice, so the buyer will want to include those as part of the purchase. Examples include equipment and services contracts, real estate leases, software licenses, and marketing and advertising agreements. The most important contract is the real estate lease. Do not make assumptions about the property on which the practice is located. It is best to negotiate a new lease with the landlord, which may be as simple as the seller assigning his interest to the buyer.  Another part of the due diligence process is conducting a search on the medical practice as an entity and the principal owners to learn of any liens or lawsuits. This information will help you spot potential risks and give you tools to negotiate a fair purchase price and sale terms of the medical practice.  Lastly, the buyer should ensure that the practice is in compliance with all applicable state and federal healthcare laws and regulations. An experienced healthcare business attorney will be invaluable at this stage based on the volume of information to be evaluated. The Purchase and Sale Agreement Once all due diligence is complete, the parties will negotiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement to finalize the transaction. This document encompasses all due diligence findings, negotiations between the parties, and legal responsibilities and obligations.  Basic Terms  As with any contract, the purchase and sale agreement will have basic provisions regarding the sale, like what is being sold, the type of sale, and the sale terms. Some of these terms might include: Consideration,  Purchase price,  Time limits on financing,  Important dates, and  Consequences of failure to secure financing. The parties...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Business Law

Partnership Agreements in Texas: Why Using a DIY Template Is a Mistake

There are dozens of websites that offer legal document templates for low or no cost. The cost of a lawyer may tempt business owners to use these templates rather than hire legal counsel, especially when it comes to forming a simple business entity like a partnership. Unfortunately, however, using a legal DIY template can pose several problems. Because Texas partnership agreements are important documents, business owners should treat them with care. Finding and using a template online comes with a number of risks that could make doing so a costly mistake. For assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or call our firm at (512) 410-0343. Our Texas business lawyers will explain what you need to know about partnership agreements in Texas. Types of Texas Partnerships A partnership is one of the most basic types of business organizations. All you need to form one is two or more people engaged in a for-profit business. Legally speaking, a Texas partnership agreement is not strictly required. However, having this governing document is the best way to avoid internal issues as the business grows. There are several types of partnership, and each will require a slightly different partnership agreement. Texas partnerships can be: General partnerships (GP), Limited partnerships (LP), Limited liability partnerships (LLP), and Limited liability limited partnerships (LLLP). Each type of partnership has different advantages. Generally speaking, which type of partnership you form depends on the role that each partner has in the business. Massingill Attorneys & Counselors at Law can help you decide which type of partnership suits your business the most. Problems with Using a Partnership Agreement Texas Template As mentioned above, using a partnership agreement template is not without risk. If you’re considering using a template for your Texas partnership agreement, here are the issues you may run into and the reasons why we strongly suggest against them. Partnership Agreements Are Not “One Size Fits All” From one business to another, there are certain things that remain relatively similar. However, the governing documents for those businesses may be very different. This causes a problem when you consider that most DIY templates are designed to cover as many situations as possible. As a result, using a template partnership agreement likely means that you miss out on some of the fine-tuning you may need. For example, a “partnership agreement” template may have some parts that apply to both a general and limited partnership; but at the same time, that single agreement will not work particularly well as either a Texas limited partnership agreement or general partnership agreement. Texas business owners should therefore be wary of how broad the templates are. You Won’t Know What’s Missing If you’re using a DIY template, then you probably don’t have much experience with these agreements to begin with. If that’s the case, then it is important to recognize that even if you understand what is in the template, you may know what is not in it. In other words, there could be crucial provisions missing that you are unaware of. This is one area where the benefit of an attorney cannot be overstated. By having an experienced business attorney draft your partnership agreement, you can rest assured that the agreement contains every part that it should. You Don’t Know Who Drafted the Template Even on websites that appear reputable, there is no guarantee that a lawyer or legal professional drafted the template. In fact, in many cases, it is just as likely that someone drafted the partnership agreement Texas template while referencing another online template. When that happens, misinformation or poor drafting can propagate from one template to the next if various sites all use each other as a source. Unfortunately, there’s simply no way to know for sure. You Won’t Receive the Personalized Advice or Drafting a Lawyer Provides When it comes to drafting a limited partnership agreement, Texas business attorneys do more than just write out the document for you. Remember that one of the reasons a lawyer is expensive is the knowledge and training they have. Drafting any kind of business document, whether it’s a contract or a partnership agreement, is a complex process. Consequently, attorneys receive training to spot relevant issues and understand the complexity of a given legal situation. If your partnership is unique in some way or if you have specific ideas about the direction of the business, a lawyer is available to discuss those ideas with you in real-time. An attorney can provide you with a custom Texas partnership agreement tailored specifically to your needs. While you may save some money, you won’t have access to any of that added value by using a template. You Might End Up Needing a Lawyer Anyway There are two reasons why a business owner might end up hiring a lawyer after using a template. First, businesses frequently need legal help with a variety of issues unrelated to their formation. For example, a partnership may need help negotiating a contract with another business. If you’ve already hired a lawyer to help you draft your Texas partnership agreement, then it will be that much easier if you need other legal help later on. As an added bonus, a lawyer who has been with you from the start will be more familiar with you, your business, and your goals. This can allow them to provide more efficient and effective service. More significantly, you may end up hiring a lawyer because of issues with the partnership agreement template you used. If the agreement is drafted improperly, you may run into conflicts with your business partner down the line. Depending on what the problem is, you may end up paying more than if you simply hired an experienced Texas business lawyer in the first place. Templates Are Less Flexible Than You Think Texas partnership agreement templates may look like a good option because of how easy they seem to be. After all, what is simpler than filling in the blanks? Unfortunately, if there are larger...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Business Law

Employment Contracts in Texas: Mistakes for Small Business Owners to Avoid

Contracts exist to help businesses and individuals set expectations for their professional relationships. Texas employment contracts are no different and are an important part of any small business. When drafting an employment contract, Texas businesses must be careful. Not everything that a business owner may want to include is enforceable. Therefore, having a basic understanding of Texas employment contract law is crucial, especially if drafting an employment agreement yourself. If you find yourself asking questions by the end of reading this article, contact our experienced business law attorneys today to schedule a free consultation. Texas Employment Agreements: Overview Texas, like most states in the U.S., is an “at-will” employment state. With at-will employment, the employee or employer may terminate the business relationship without notice at any time. They may do so for no reason or any reason not prohibited by law (for example, it would be illegal to fire someone for a discriminatory reason). When there is an employment agreement, however, the parties will instead be bound by the terms they agree to. Many businesses use some sort of employment agreement when hiring a new employee. Doing so ultimately protects both parties by clearly setting the ground rules for employment. With that in mind, here are some common pitfalls small business owners may make in their contracts and how to avoid them. Overly Broad Non-Competition Clauses This is perhaps the most significant mistake employers make with respect to their employment agreements. Particularly in competitive industries, business owners often want to restrict their employees’ ability to work for competitors. However, Texas law places limitations on these provisions. Specifically, an agreement not to compete must be reasonable with respect to The time it remains in effect after the termination of employment; The geographic area (like a state or a county) to which the non-compete applies; and The scope of the activity covered by the non-compete. If a contract fails to be reasonable in any of these ways, a court may find it unenforceable. This may be a problem for businesses that use the same non-competition clause or agreement for all their employees. For example, a non-compete probably could not restrict a low-level sales rep the same way it could a co-owner or high-level executive. Accordingly, small businesses are better off providing a fair and balanced non-compete that a court will uphold. Business attorneys familiar with Texas employment contract law can help you draft an appropriate non-compete to protect your business. Non-Compete vs. Non-Solicitation Non-compete clauses often include a “non-solicitation clause.” While non-competes cover an employee’s competition with the business, non-solicitation clauses protect a business’s existing clients and employees. While not always strictly necessary, non-solicitation agreements are useful in industries where a former employee may try to “poach” clients or coworkers from their former employer. Ambiguous Conditions for Termination Clarifying the events or conduct for which the business may fire someone is a significant part of a well-drafted contract. Not only does it make clear to the employee what kind of conduct they should avoid, it can protect your business if an employee challenges their termination. Texas businesses have many options when it comes to termination clauses and what they include. If you’re unsure how to draft an employment termination clause, our Texas business law attorneys can help. Unclear Descriptions of Duties A common mistake that business owners make is not including a sufficient job description in their Texas employment contract. While it may seem unnecessary if both you and your future employee understand what will be expected of them, clearly defining their duties can avoid headaches later on. In addition, being absolutely clear about the scope of an employee’s job can protect the business from liability later on. Under the doctrine of “respondeat superior,” courts may find an employer liable for the acts of their employees working within the scope of their employment. Whether respondeat superior applies depends on the specific facts of a given case; however, a clear job description in the employment agreement may make that determination easier if necessary. Missing or Incomplete Confidentiality Clauses When it comes to an employment agreement, Texas business owners may not always think to include a confidentiality clause. While not all businesses will need one, business owners should consider it if the employee will handle any sort of sensitive information. Texas employment agreements with a confidentiality clause should be sure to address confidentiality both during and after employment. Employees may be clear on the expectation of confidentiality while employed but may not understand their responsibility when they leave. Texas employment agreements should therefore include information about how long the confidentiality will last after an employee leaves. If you’re concerned about your employees handling sensitive information, we can help you draft a strong confidentiality agreement. Minimal Compensation and Benefits Information In the context of an employment contract, Texas businesses have the upper hand when it comes to bargaining power. As a result, employers can take advantage of opportunities to make new employees more comfortable with their position within the company. One such opportunity is clearly defining any offered compensation and benefits in the employment agreement. Doing so allows the business to explicitly establish the base salary or wage, insurance options, and how the business handles holidays and vacation time. As an added bonus, this may also allow a business to protect itself from challenges by an employee about what the company offers. Unclear Drug Testing Policies Not all employers require drug testing. But when they do, making that clear is important. Because Texas has a medical marijuana program, employees may be under the impression that their use of medical marijuana is shielded from any employer drug test. However, this is not necessarily the case. Explaining drug testing policies in the employment agreement can help businesses avoid training an employee who may take issue with those policies. Ready to Draft Your Texas Employment Contract? At Massingill Attorneys and Counselors at Law, we believe in making sure our clients understand the legal answers to their questions, no...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Business Law

Commercial Leases and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

The novel coronavirus pandemic is making life difficult for small business owners. Many of our clients are struggling to manage newly-remote employees who have been forced to work from home due to shelter-in-place orders, applying for emergency financing, weighing employee layoffs, and fighting to keep their doors open. For many businesses, monthly rent is the largest line item in the budget. One of the most stressful and complex problems these business owners are facing is how to meet their commercial lease obligations as their business operations are crippled by the pandemic. STRUGGLING BUSINESS OWNERS SHOULD ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM HEAD ON, AND QUICKLY. WAITING WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things to consider… 1. Look for a force majeure provision in your lease. “Force majeure” is a French term for “superior force” used to describe a type of contract provision that excuses nonperformance of a contractual obligation if the nonperformance is caused by certain events beyond the party’s reasonable control (floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, acts of God, etc.). Force majeure provisions are fairly common in commercial leases, so you should review your lease to see if it includes such a provision. Depending on the wording of this provision, you may be able to avoid certain lease obligations during the current crisis. An attorney can help you decipher your lease agreement and explain your options. 2. If your lease does not include a force majeure provision, certain common law doctrines (impossibility or impracticability) may provide some relief. These are complicated, so you’ll need to contact an attorney for assistance. 3. Finally, you might opt to negotiate temporary rent reductions or abatements with your landlord. During the financial crisis of 2008-2009, landlords commonly offered significant concessions to keep tenants in place because doing so was preferable to engaging in mass evictions. Landlords are business owners too. They’ll be making hard choices in the coming months just like their tenants, and it may be possible to negotiate a win-win lease “workout” that benefits all parties. It’s possible to do this on your own, but an attorney experienced in commercial lease negotiation may offer the best solution. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR LEASE OR NEED ASSISTANCE WITH A COMMERCIAL LEASING NEGOTIATION, GIVE US A CALL AT (512) 410-0343.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Healthcare Business Law

Texas Chiropractors: Protect Your Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On Monday, March 23, Texas healthcare attorney Joshua Massingill joined Darla Sees, an organizational development and human resources consultant, in a webinar hosted by the Texas Chiropractic Association: Protecting Your Practice During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The webinar featured important legal, financial, and human resources updates related to the novel coronavirus crisis and is essential viewing for Texas chiropractors. Also, the Texas Chiropractic Association maintains an up-to-date COVID-19 resource page, which doctors are encouraged to visit frequently for important updates and helpful resources. Finally, doctors should stay current by visiting the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners (TBCE)  web site. TBCE continues to post helpful information for its licensees during this pandemic. If you have questions about complying with state or local rules related to COVID-19, contact an attorney.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Business Law

Five Things to Know Before Selling Your Business

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS IS A GUEST POST BY JOHN FINCHER, A CERTIFIED BUSINESS INTERMEDIARY IN AUSTIN, TEXAS. JOHN IS NOT AN ATTORNEY, BUT WE ASKED HIM TO SHARE SOME THOUGHTS WITH OUR READERS WHO MAY BE CONTEMPLATING SELLING A BUSINESS. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JOHN. 1. SELLING A BUSINESS IS A COMPLEX PROCESS AND CAN TAKE 9 MONTHS OR LONGER Selling a business is not like selling a house or any other personal property you that you own. I always say, “Selling a business has a lot of moving parts.” Those moving parts require the guidance of someone who is experienced in the process and can effectively move the deal from step-to-step. Planning is step number one and includes understanding the owner’s goals for a transaction, your company value, and signing an engagement agreement with a Sell-Side M&A Advisor. Step number two is providing the information requested from your Sell-Side M&A Advisor to prepare a Confidential Business Memorandum (CBM) with many details about your company, the market, your competition and the financials recast to show the true earnings of the business. A marketing plan is activated and buyers are contacted and required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) before being presented with the CBM. On the third step, once interested buyers are located, there is a flow of additional information requested and questions answered. There are site visits after hours or on weekends to protect confidentiality that the business is for sale. A Letter of Intent (LOI) is negotiated with a buyer in this deal making stage. Finally, there is a move toward a Close that includes coordinating all of the due diligence requested from the buyer that includes your Sell-Side M&A Advisor setting up a secure data room that the buyer can access. Your Sell-Side M&A Advisor will work closely with your transactional attorney to resolve any open issues as your attorney negotiates and finalizes a Definitive Purchase Agreement. These four steps that I’ve briefly outlined require approximately nine months of time, which is the average, although deals have concluded in shorter time-frames and longer. 2. KNOW THE RIGHT TIME TO SELL When is the right time to sell your business? It would be logical to say that the right time to sell is when your business is worth the most money or selling it will achieve your financial goals. The short answer is to sell when your business has at least three years of upward trend in revenue and profitability and certainly before the next downturn, unless your business is recession proof. However, some sellers have to sell rather than want to sell. I call these the five bad D’s – Death, Divorce, Disease, Downturn and Disgruntlement and they don’t have a choice as to the timing. 3. USE YOUR LEGAL AND ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONALS TO CLEAN UP THE BUSINESS PRIOR TO THE SALE Cross your t’s and dot your i’s with expert legal advice to make sure your business is saleable from a legal perspective and with your CPA to make sure your business is saleable from an accounting perspective. Are your contracts assignable? Is your lease? Have you kept the proper annual shareholder meeting minutes if required by your legal entity? Do you have any pending lawsuits or legal matters that need settling? Do you have any regulatory or environmental issues? Do you have any tax liabilities that may need the help of your CPA professional to solve? Are your books and records accurate and will they hold up during due diligence? What is a likely tax scenario of how much you will owe upon the sale of your business and is there a compelling legal reason or tax reason to sell stock instead of assets? 4. BE MENTALLY PREPARED Are you willing to think win-win with a buyer? There are several ways to structure a sale and some will benefit the Buyer but not the Seller and others will do just the opposite. There will be much to negotiate throughout selling a business and oftentimes you will need to move toward the middle as will the Buyer. Contain your ego and emotion and use your Sell-Side M&A Advisor as an emotional buffer when necessary between you and the Buyer. Keep in mind that you will need a good relationship with the Buyer after the sale as there is much to transition from one owner to the next after the Close. 5. KNOW YOUR PATH AFTER THE SALE Know what you are going to do, after selling your business. Some people want to stay engaged with the business in some capacity and others are ready to walk away. Do you have other interests and passions to pursue that will give you purpose? John Fincher is a Certified Business Intermediary with Corporate Investment in Austin, Texas. He is a former entrepreneur who has bought, sold and merged companies and has been working for over twelve years representing sellers in M&A transactions.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Healthcare Business Law

Texas Stem Cell Law Update

THE FOLLOWING IS AN EDUCATIONAL ARTICLE INTENDED TO HIGHLIGHT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO PHYSICIANS AND OTHER HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS. IT IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING SO FACTS, CIRCUMSTANCES, RULES AND REGULATIONS MAY CHANGE THAT WOULD ALTER THE ANALYSES BELOW. In recent weeks, the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”) has notified several physicians of complaints it has received alleging that the physician has been “aiding/abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine.” Specifically, the complaints allege that the physician is supervising midlevel practitioners (APRNs/PAs) who are “administering stem cells illegally in violation of HB 810” (emphasis added). TMB, like all licensing boards, has a duty to investigate complaints that are filed against its licensees. After receiving a complaint, TMB notifies the physician identified in the complaint, who is then given an opportunity to “furnish a narrative” responding to the allegations. Many complaints are dismissed at this stage, without TMB having ever initiated a formal investigation. In other words, these complaint letters do not necessarily indicate discipline is forthcoming. Nevertheless, they are a troubling development. The most pressing question is whether TMB’s reference to midlevel practitioners “administering stem cells illegally in violation of HB 810” is a mere restatement of the complaint it received (which is certainly possible) or whether it is telegraphing an aggressive new interpretation of HB 810 as precluding the delegation of all “stem cell” treatments. The legislation referenced in TMB’s complaint, HB 810, was passed by the 85th Texas Legislature and became effective on September 1, 2017. This bill – nicknamed “Charlie’s Law” – concerned “investigational stem cell treatments” and specified that patients are only eligible to receive such treatments if they have “a severe chronic disease or terminal illness” and their physician has “considered all other treatment options currently approved by the [FDA] and determined that those treatment options are unavailable or unlikely to alleviate the significant impairment or severe pain associated with the severe chronic disease or terminal illness” and if their physician recommends or prescribes the treatment in writing. Tex. Health & Safety Code § 1003.053. This statute defines “investigational stem cell treatments” as “adult stem cell treatment[s] that [are] under investigation in a clinical trial and [are] being administered to human participants in that trial [and have] not yet been approved for general use by the [FDA].” Tex. Health & Safety Code § 1003.051 (emphasis added). Texas stem cell laws are not a model of clarity. Nevertheless, it has been widely presumed that HB 810’s onerous restrictions do not apply to the types of “stem cell” products most commonly used in regenerative medical clinics and integrated medical-chiropractic practices, which are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) as Human Cells, Tissues, and Cellular and Tissue-Based Products (HCT/Ps) under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (PHSA). There are several reasons to conclude that HB 810 does not apply to these so-called “361 products.” First, HB 810 specifically refers to treatments “not yet approved” by the FDA. 361 products do not require FDA approval; they must simply be registered with the FDA and comply with infection-control procedures. And because clinical trials are not required for 361 products, it seems unlikely such products would meet the definition of “investigational stem cell treatments” in HB 810. Second, it is abundantly clear that the purpose of Charlie’s Law was to circumvent FDA restrictions and thereby increase patient access to certain stem cell treatments. Again, the particular FDA restrictions at issue in the legislation do not even apply to 361 products and interpreting the law in this way would necessarily decrease patient access to such products. Third, TMB published a bulletin in May 2019 lamenting “concerns, highlighted by several recent news stories, related to a lack of proper supervision while patients are receiving treatment for certain cosmetic procedures and purported stem cell treatments.” Dr. Sherif Zaafran, M.D., FASA, Message From the TMB President: Mental Health Questions and Supervision Issues, TMB Bulletin, May 2019, at 2 (emphasis added). TMB’s concern relating to improper supervision, leads one to assume it believes that the procedure is, in fact, delegable under proper supervision. If HB 810 applies to every type of “stem cell” product, the use of all such products is restricted to physicians only, and it would therefore be illegal to delegate the administration of any “stem cell” product to a midlevel practitioner. If that were the case, it seems unlikely that TMB would suggest it is concerned about “a lack of proper supervision” when such treatments are delegated. Fourth, 361 products have been in widespread use in Texas and are commonly administered by midlevel practitioners. HB 810 became effective nearly two years ago, and until recently it did not appear that TMB was concerned about the legality of this arrangement. In short, a plain reading of the statute, a basic understanding of the legislative intent of Charlie’s Law, the recent statement published by TMB in its May 2019 bulletin, and common sense all suggest that HB 810 does not preclude a physician from delegating the administration of 361 products to midlevel practitioners. However, it is possible that TMB and/or a reviewing court might disagree with this analysis and subject delegating practitioners to discipline. Time will tell.

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