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Legal Issues for the Vanguard: Business Reopening after the Lockdown

By John F. Connolly

With Governor Kemp's April 23, 2020 Executive Order, Georgia enters the first phase of its business reopening following the COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place Orders. As they consider the steps for reopening, businesses need to consider the various health and safety guidelines from the White House, CDC, OSHA, and state and local governments. With proper planning, care and enforcement, a business can reopen with confidence and look forward to being in the vanguard of getting Georgia back to work.

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211 Hits

Foreclosing the Right of Redemption – Protecting Your Tax Sale Purchase

By Logan C. Stone

After leaving a non-judicial tax sale with a tax sale deed in hand, you might think you own the recently-purchased property outright. However, the law regarding tax sales is not that simple. Even after a tax sale, the defaulting owner still has the right to redeem the property from you. This article explains the necessary steps you need to take to protect your interest and ultimately bar the right of redemption.

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159 Hits

Georgia Legislature Considering Bill to Allow Benefit Corporations

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By Anthony Cammarata Jr. 

If enacted, a bill drafted by the State Bar of Georgia's Corporate Section and introduced by Representative Scott Holcomb (D-81st District) during the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly would create a new corporate structure in the state. House Bill 230 is a proposal to amend the Georgia Business Corporation Code to authorize a type of corporation called a "Benefit Corporation" or a "B Corporation." 

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276 Hits

The Invest Georgia Exemption: How Intrastate Offerings or "Crowdfunding" Can Help Start and Grow Georgia's Businesses

​By Nicholas P. Flint

Who would have thought that Georgia would be a pioneer of the crowdfunding movement? Georgia was just the second state to enact a regulatory framework to allow crowdfunding under the new federal exemptions from security registration for intrastate offerings. Through this legislation, Georgia has provided a valuable tool to its businesses to raise capital from in-state investors.

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225 Hits

SBA Loans in Wake of COVID-19: What Your Business Needs to Know

By Andrew T. Smith

As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 18, 2020, Gov. Kemp announced that Georgia has received an official statewide disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
This declaration will provide assistance in the form of SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to impacted small businesses throughout Georgia. 
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The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Impact It Will Have on Your Business

By Anthony Cammarata Jr.

This article was published in the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News on March 20, 2020: Tribune Ledger News - FROM THE BENCH & BAR.

As our nation faces the implications of the unprecedented crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 across the globe, the federal government has now enacted legislation that could greatly affect your business. President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Act into law late Wednesday evening It is the second bill passed this month designed to blunt the pandemic's impact. In addition to expanding unemployment insurance benefits, increasing Medicaid funding, providing free coronavirus testing, and delivering additional nutritional assistance for a variety of low-income assistance programs, the Families First Coronavirus Act also includes two emergency paid sick leave and childcare leave programs.

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261 Hits

New Emergency Rule Regarding Mandatory Filing for Partial Unemployment Claims

By Anthony Cammarata Jr.

In light of the economic effects the COVID-19 pandemic is having on businesses statewide, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) has adopted an emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, effective March 16, 2020.

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FCW Statement on COVID-19

Our office is open and maintaining normal operations to ensure you that we are here to provide support, guidance, and assistance should you need it during this unprecedented crisis. We are closely monitoring the situation and are fully committed to supporting you in the coming days and weeks. Please review the statement below and feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information. Thank you again for placing your trust in Flint, Connolly & Walker for your legal needs.

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489 Hits

Small Business Owners Need Cybersecurity Protections

DATA AND CYBERSECURITY FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

It is rare today to read the daily news without seeing yet another instance of a large company experiencing a major data breach or hacking and consequently facing the threat of high-cost litigation. What many overlook, however, is that small businesses are just as susceptible, if not more, to the risks of cyberattacks. A recent study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance found that almost 50% of small businesses have been victims of a cyberattack, and that more than 70% of all attacks target small businesses. Even more concerning, the study found that approximately 60% of those small and mid-sized businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business after just six months.

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295 Hits

Doug Flint Named to Super Lawyers List

 Flint, Connolly & Walker is pleased to announce that its senior partner, Doug Flint, has been selected to the 2018 Super Lawyers list.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information, visit www.superlawyers.com.

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283 Hits

David Walker on property tax assessments and potential savings

Printed in Cherokee Tribune on December 3, 2017

Knowing Your Rights About Property Tax Assessments Could Save You Money

In most Georgia counties, the deadline for paying real property ad valorem taxes occurs in December of each year; however, many Georgia property owners are not aware of certain opportunities, which occur much earlier in the year, that they can use to potentially reduce their property tax burden.

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385 Hits

Welcome, Anthony Cammarata, Jr.

 We are excited to welcome our newest associate attorney, Anthony Cammarata, Jr. to Flint, Connolly and Walker. Anthony is pictured (second from left, front row) at the swearing-in ceremony on November 6 with Chief Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris at the Cherokee County Justice Center.

Anthony graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law. He is proud to call Cherokee County home. Anthony grew up with his parents and two younger sisters in Canton, Georgia and graduated from Cherokee High School. Anthony is licensed to practice law in all Georgia State Courts.

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369 Hits

Michael Bain advises insurance reassessment

Printed in Cherokee Tribune September 2, 2017

My mother recently mentioned that her homeowner's insurance premium had gone up. She has lived in the same house for thirty years, and although housing values in her neighborhood have recovered since the economic downturn, values have not appreciated much since she and my father bought their house as a new construction in the 1980s. My mother's comment piqued my curiosity, prompting additional questions about the details in her insurance coverage. Her insurance company valued her house for coverage purposes at more than $20,000 over that which any house in the neighborhood has ever sold, and over $100,000 more than the estimated value of her house. Additionally, the wooden shed in my mother's back yard that could be purchased from a home improvement store today for $1,500, was valued by her insurance company at $30,000. While her insurance company had reasons to justify the rise in coverage on her house, the reality of the situation is that my mother would likely never rebuild her home in the event of a catastrophe, and the extent of insurance coverage was unnecessary. In short, my mother had too much insurance coverage for her needs. The gradual increases in insurance coverage over time led to an increase in premiums, and for years she never gave her insurance coverage a second look.

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348 Hits

When DOT comes knocking, know your rights

Printed in Cherokee Tribune June 11, 2017

 When the State selects property for a highway project – whether it is a widening project, a new roadway, or a change to an existing roadway – the owner of the property affected by these plans has some very important concerns.

What can be done to stop this process? Does a property owner have to accept what the government offers for the property? The project that is being planned will seriously affect private property owners – what can be done about this?

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Doug Flint explains the importance of succession planning for small business owners in January’s issue of Cherokee Tribune

The backbone of the American economy is small business. Most small businesses in the U.S. are family- owned and many have been in existence for decades. One of the most challenging tasks I have faced in my career as a business lawyer has been developing strategies to help families arrange for the transfer of their business to others — be it a child, another family member, or another party, to ensure the survival and continuity of the business. This short article will touch on some of the main issues that a lawyer and his/her client should consider.

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229 Hits

In the August issue of the Cherokee Tribune, David Walker discusses changes to federal overtime rules

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"), under the direction of the Obama Administration, announced dramatic changes to its regulation of the employer and employee relationship. Regardless of one's ideological opinion of these new mandates, the newly introduced government intervention will necessarily pose real and present consequences for many employers and employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") was originally introduced in 1938, and currently any business: (i) that has more than 2 employees and more than $500,000.00 in annual revenue, or (ii) is engaged in "interstate commerce", is subject to DOL mandates instituted under the Act. Effectively, the definition of "interstate commerce" has been expanded by the federal courts to include virtually any business activity in the U.S.

Since the FLSA was enacted, it has been utilized as a vehicle for the Federal DOL to create regulations regarding minimum wages, weekly work hours, and other facets of the relationship between employees and employers. While most people have a general familiarity with the "minimum wage" and "overtime" rules for hourly wage earners, less are familiar with the regulations that affect "salaried" employees. Nonetheless, as a consequence of these new government mandates, it is important that business owners and managers, human resource managers, and salaried employees take the time to develop a full understanding of the impact of these new changes.

Beginning on December 1, 2016, any salaried employee who is paid less than $913.00 per week ($47,476.00 annually) will no longer be exempt from entitlement to overtime pay for work in excess of 40 hours per week. Given that the overtime exemption was previously extended to employees making $455.00 per week ($23,600.00 annually), studies estimate that on December 1, over 4 million salaried employees will become eligible for overtime pay – overnight. While the new regulations have been touted as an immediate pay increase for affected employees, some analysts caution that – much like the unforeseen consequences of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – the unilateral decrease in exemptions may instead result in a reduction in the amount of income, hours, and advancement opportunities available to salaried employees who are currently exempt.

It must be noted that the amount of salary paid to an employee is only 1 of 2 tests for determining whether a salaried employee is exempt from overtime regulations. In addition, after December 1, employees making more than $47,476.00 per year will only be exempt if they also qualify under one of the following exemptions: (i) executive duties (such as management and supervisory duties and the ability to participate in decisions regarding the hiring, firing, or advancement of other employees); (ii) administrative duties (consisting of non-manual and independent work directly relating to the business operations of the employer); (iii) outside sales (in which the employee is regularly engaged in sales activities away from the employer's place of business); or (iv) "highly compensated employees" (meaning, those employees who have managerial duties and who earn more than $134,004.00 per year). Interestingly, the federal government also decreed that salaried attorneys, doctors, and teachers are exempt from the foregoing minimum wage protections.

While it is impossible to detail the nuances of these new regulations within the confines of this rather short column, the effect that these new regulations will have on small, medium, and large businesses and their employees cannot be overstated. Employers who wait until December 1 to address these new changes will suffer substantially increased liability and risk. In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in FLSA-related lawsuits by employees against employers as plaintiffs' lawyers have increased their advertising and efforts to expand this area of litigation. Moreover, if a business is found to have violated the FLSA, the penalties can be severe. Consequently, an employer who fails to adopt adequate strategies to ensure that it is in compliance with the new regulations may likely find itself an unwitting defendant in such a suit.

These new regulations present considerations for employees as well. As employers endeavor to respond to these new regulations by implementing lawful measures (such as requiring employees to "clock-in" and "clock-out", converting employees from salary to hourly status, reducing employee hours and limiting their ability to perform work outside of the office, as well as any number of related measures), in an effort to reduce their exposure and ensure compliance with the new rules, employees may find themselves unhappy with the new federal regulations. In order to limit the resulting strain, employers and employees should communicate in advance of the December 1 deadline to ensure that each has a full understanding of what new measures might be implemented to address the changes.

Employers and employees alike are advised to take the time to investigate the details of these new regulations, consult with their professional advisors and human resources departments, and develop a full understanding of how they may be affected by these new directives.

David L. Walker, Jr. is a partner with Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP. He focuses his legal practice to collaborate with business owners, mid-sized and closely held corporations, as well as real estate owners, developers, and contractors. David has a depth of knowledge in the areas of construction law, contracts, probate law and estate administration, and various matters related to the business operations of employers and business owners. 

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243 Hits

Article by Andrew T. Smith published in Cherokee Tribune

From the December 6, 2015 edition of the Cherokee Tribune.

Buyers in the market to purchase a home in the near future should know that the traditional real estate closing process has recently been revolutionized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB"). While these changes may not be apparent to first-time homebuyers, individuals who have purchased homes in the past should not expect to have similar experiences in the future. There is a myriad of new rules and regulations that will affect buyers, sellers, closing attorneys, agents, and lenders going forward, and the Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP team thought it prudent to inform prospective buyers on what to expect as the closing day approaches.

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365 Hits

CFPB “Know before you owe” rules

 A quick reference guide for real estate professionals

By now, most professionals in the real estate industry know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") has implemented sweeping changes to the real estate industry. But for many realtors the question still remains, "How will it impact me?" With these changes upon us, the Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP team wants to work with you to make sure everyone is aware of the changes.

Any residential loan originated on or after October 3, 2015 is subject to the new rules and forms set forth by the CFPB. These rules replace the Good Faith Estimate ("GFE") and early Truth-In-Lending Act (TILA) Disclosure with the new Loan Estimate form. The familiar HUD-1 Settlement Statement and final TILA form will also be replaced by the new Closing Disclosure form. By consolidating these various forms into just two instruments, the CFPB's alleged goal is to ensure that borrowers who are purchasing homes truly understand the financing involved with purchasing a home.

Additionally, the new rules implement strict timing requirements with regard to these forms. The CFPB determined that borrowers would be better served by having time to review the new Closing Disclosure prior to signing their loan documents. As a result, these rules require that borrowers have three business days after receipt of the Closing Disclosure to review the form and its contents prior to signing loan documents at the closing table. However, this three day review period only starts upon "confirmed receipt" by the borrowers. In theory, long gone will be the days where you and your clients anxiously wait in a closing attorney's lobby without HUD-1 approval, wondering if the transaction will be approved by the bank and the closing will proceed. With these new rules, you should know at least three days ahead of time whether or not the closing will occur on the date stipulated on the Purchase and Sale Agreement.

So what do you need to do? First and foremost, as with any new federal government program, you should certainly anticipate an adjustment process where administrative errors and other issues may need to be addressed. Secondly, remember that these rules are new to everyone – including lenders! Buyers should be provided ample time in the contract to close the purchase of the home they are buying and/or selling. Real estate professionals seem to agree that an additional 14 days from previous time frames to close upon execution of the Purchase and Sale Agreement may be best. Thirdly, borrowers must confirm receipt of the Closing Disclosure form. Without that confirmation, closings will only continue to be delayed. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you are well versed to explain these new changes to your clients to ensure their lender is acting in accordance therewith.

If you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please call us at 770-720-4411. Our team is here to help you and your clients through successful and worry-free closings.

Andrew T. Smith is an associate attorney in the law firm of Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP in Canton, Georgia, where he conducts residential real estate closings.

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Another successful seminar hosted by FCW

 On September 10th, Flint, Connolly and Walker, LLP hosted a second continuing education seminar for Georgia realtors. Thanks for a wonderful group of attendees, and to Downtown Kitchen for delicious food and drink! If you have any questions about the upcoming real estate closing procedures required by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") regulations, please contact us for more information.

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Second real estate seminar coming up soon

 Flint, Connolly and Walker, LLP will host a second, free continuing education seminar for Georgia realtors on September 10, 2015. Changes to real estate closing procedures required by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ("CFPB") regulations that go into effect on October 3, 2015 will be revealed. Register through the Cherokee Association of Realtors, or contact us for more information.

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