Business structure

The business structure right for you

Choosing the business structure that is right for you is not simply a matter of knowing the law. It is also a matter of knowing yourself. A good tax and business attorney can help you determine the best business structure based on taxation and liability. They must, however, know a lot about you and your vision for your business. Before you set up a consultation here are some questions to ask yourself.

  1. What is my vision for my business? Do I want to conquer the world or be a great local business? How about outside funding so that I can grow quickly? Or am I content with slow steady growth using my own funds and reinvesting profits?
  2. How much administration am I comfortable with? Do I need to plan for co-owners, or hiring several employees quickly? Finally, how much paperwork can I tolerate?
  3. Crucially, how comfortable am I with risking my personal assets? Some business structures leave your personal assets open to lawsuits against the business or open to process to satisfy business debts.

Let our business law team help you choose the business structure for you

As with many things in life, your choice of a business structure may be the result of trade-offs. As an example, some business structures that protect your personal property involve complexity and more paperwork. If you understand your own dream well and add to that your personal quirks we can advise you more effectively.

Our business law team offer diverse and extensive experience. Norman Short with 25 years experience in tax and business law also obtained an advanced legal degree in taxation. Kim Hammit focuses on small businesses and for more than 20 years Chalmers Johnson has helped both business owners and employees with employment law issues. For business owners, he can help establish personnel policies and investigate personnel situations and resolve them.

Let us help you make your dream a success by your own standards. Set up a consultation today at either our Port Orchard or Bainbridge Island office.

 

Divorce doesn't mean failure

Divorce doesn’t mean failure

Divorce doesn’t mean failure. In fact, divorce may be the mark of a successful marriage concludes Shana Lebowitz in a story titled, “Divorce isn’t a failure, therapists say. In fact, it could mean the marriage was a success.” For the article, she interviewed several marriage therapists. Here are some quotes to consider.

“Your marriage has one goal,” Hal Runkel said. “Marriage has evolved into a people-growing machine.”

Runkel says that it highlights the areas where you need to grow and change. As Laura Markham puts it, disagreements are opportunities to “grow yourself.”

According to therapist Rachel Zamore satisfaction in relationships depend on our attitudes toward change. We need to embrace our experiences as opportunities for growth. Too often we rate experiences based solely on whether it makes us happy or not.

And sometimes you change to the point that you see your marriage differently and understand that it is time to leave. Even if you did not initiate the divorce, you will have a much better experience during and after divorce if you look at it with a learning and growing lens.

Your attitude to your marriage breakup will help you make sounder decisions

You are also much more likely to make sound decisions during the process, our three family law attorneys say. Feelings of failure and rejection work against good decisions and strong recovery. David Jones, John Groseclose, and Larry Lofgren are careful to explain the pros and cons of each decision to clients. Clients, however, must make crucial decisions in divorces. You can help ensure sound decisions with a more realistic look at your marriage and the breakup.

community service

Legal community honors GSJones Law Group

Recently the Kitsap County Bar Association awarded GSJones Law Group with the Humanitarian Award for community service. The award recognizes more than 400 hours of volunteer labor to support our community in 2018.  In introducing the award, Bar Association Trustee Ron Richmond, a former GSJones Law Group attorney, said, “GSJones Law Group is where I learned what law was all about. Where I learned that justice is not justice unless it is accessible. And where I personally watched tonight’s recipients dedicate countless hours to the advancement of better communities, a better legal system, and a better tomorrow through volunteerism.”

The partners and most of the staff, pictured above, were on hand at the annual celebration. The volunteer work has been ongoing for many years through Kitsap Legal Services, Northwest Justice Project and the Rotary Club of South Kitsap. We are so honored by this recognition from the legal community filled with attorneys who also have impressive community service records. And Ron’s words warmed our hearts. We are very proud of our “graduate.”

Humanitarian Award

Managing Partner David Jones holds plaque at Kitsap Bar Association annual celebration.

Legal Services

Partner John Groseclose and legal assistant Cassie Close both serve on the board of Kitsap Legal Services. In addition, John serves as president. Sara Humphries received the Humanitarian Award in 2014, partially in honor of her work with KLS where she continues to volunteer. At the time she served on the board. At KLS attorneys, paralegals and other volunteers provide information, advice and representation for Kitsap residents who cannot afford attorneys.

Attorney Larry Lofgren volunteers regularly at the Spanish language family law clinic. In addition to her work for KLS, Cassie serves as a CASA volunteer representing the interests of children in Juvenile Court and submitting reports to the court.

The Weekly Tenant Clinic, started by, among others, John Groseclose, meets every Friday morning from 8:30 to 10:30 in room 250 at the Kitsap County Superior Court. It is a walk-in clinic, no appointment necessary. Bring any paperwork, including leases and payment information.

For help with other non-criminal legal issues make an appointment through the Northwest Justice Project by calling 800-621-4636. In addition, check out the excellent legal guides and forms.

Rotary Club of South Kitsap

Managing Partner David Jones is currently the president of the Rotary board and has been an active volunteer for many years. Port Orchard and other residents of South Kitsap know all the good work that the Rotary Club of South Kitsap does for the community, including scholarships, help for struggling families and community betterment. Larry Lofgren is also active in the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club.

Humanitarian Award Speech

On behalf of the bar association Ron Richmond said:

We take the unusual step tonight of presenting this award not to an individual, but to a group. To a team. To a collective that adopts as one of their core tenets that they take action to help solve social problems and … they may do it to excess.

This group, a firm of attorneys and their assistants, is a close-knit team that takes a lead role in volunteerism from community assistance to legal aid. They host regular volunteer clinics at their office. And then, they follow up with those who come to clinics, as well as facilitate CLEs to help others volunteer.

Two of them serve on the board of Kitsap Legal Services, one as its president; one of them is the President of a local Rotary club and leads the coordination of their events. In addition, they regularly contract with the Northwest Justice Project to provide legal services at vastly discounted rates.

$75,000 in donated time

Many of you know my enjoyment of auditing numbers. I talked with one of the Group earlier this week to get some official numbers about their service, and their conservative estimate, between attorneys and staff, is close to 400 hours of volunteer work and leadership in 2018. At least four hundred hours, and this is an understated number.

When we look at the hourly value of the time in our profession, for attorneys and staff, my math says that this volunteer investment into the community has a value of over $75,000.00 worth of time that they have donated.

For those of you who may not yet have guessed our recipient this year, the final clue is that about a decade ago, they took in a disabled attorney brand new to the profession. They made every accommodation needed to allow that disabled person to thrive and grow in a law practice – that attorney was me.

GSJones Law Group is where I learned what law was all about. Where I learned that justice is not justice unless it is accessible. And where I personally watched tonight’s recipients dedicate countless hours to the advancement of better communities, a better legal system, and a better tomorrow through volunteerism.

 

 

free consultation

For our neighbors: Free legal consultation

Many of our neighbors were hit hard by a tornado yesterday. We are just north of you on Bethel next to the Post Office. You face all kinds of headaches in this holiday season. Some of them may be legal and we are here to help. We are happy to meet with you at no charge for your initial consultation.

Among our eight attorneys are people with experience dealing with insurance companies, landlords and tenants, contracts and contractors, estates, taxes and almost any other legal problem the tornado may have brought you.

When you call 360-876-9221 to set up an appointment, just tell the receptionist that you want the free consultation for tornado survivors.

Welcome Larry Lofgren family law, bankruptcy attorney

Welcome Larry Lofgren

We are proud to welcome Larry Lofgren as our newest Associate, focusing on family law and bankruptcy. GSJones Law Group is also excited to offer family law and bankruptcy clients a new Bainbridge Island location. Larry comes to us from a solo practice on Bainbridge Island. You can schedule appointments with Larry at either our main office in Port Orchard or on Bainbridge Island. With additional experience in estate planning law and real estate, he will also strengthen those teams at GSJones Law Group.

Larry remarks on his roots here, “As someone with deep family roots in Kitsap County, I am excited to join GSJones Law Group. My parents grew up in Bremerton and I was born in Tacoma.”

He looks forward to helping clients navigate the unfamiliar and challenging family court system during emotional times.  “My approach is to get into court quickly, firmly and decisively when appropriate. And yet keep in mind the long-term plans of my clients and the need for healing.”

Though Larry grew up in Illinois, he spent summers with his grandparents in Bremerton. After practicing law in Chicago for over ten years, he moved to Seattle with his family in 2003. He and his teenage son moved to Bainbridge Island in 2013.

Drawn to serving people and the public good, fluent in Spanish

Larry’s first legal job was with a public interest law organization. Upon moving to Kitsap County he quickly became active in the Kitsap Bar Association. He uses his fluent Spanish volunteering regularly with Kitsap Legal Services. He has served as a Guardian ad litem. Currently, he uses that experience to better serve clients in family court.

He and his son are active in their Bainbridge Island community. Larry’s many community activities include the local Rotary Club, the Beacon Food Forest, and Friends of Bainbridge Island Farms (board member). He and his son enjoy biking, traveling, backpacking, skiing and playing clarinet and saxophone.

gender discrimination

Gender Discrimination: Equal time for Dads

 

Dads should have equal time to bond with their new children, according to a $1.1 million settlement in a gender discrimination lawsuit. Estee Lauder’s parental leave policy gave new moms six weeks paid leave. And yet, it awarded dads only two weeks leave. In addition, dads did not have the same flexible schedule benefits after returning to work. Best of all, Estee Lauder agreed to up to 20 weeks of paid leave for all new parents and six weeks flexible schedule.

Parental leave is a separate benefit from medical leave for childbirth. Although there is no federal law that requires parental leave. Yet, when an employer offers it, they must not discriminate based on gender. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on behalf of 210 new fathers.

Personnel policies need careful legal review

This lawsuit is an example of how expensive personnel policies can be when not carefully thought through.  “This settlement ensures that Estee Lauder will provide equal opportunities for time off to new dads and new moms, which …  makes sense for families,” said Mindy E. Weinstein, acting director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office. The EEOC trial attorney Thomas Rethage added, “Parental leave policies should not reflect presumptions or stereotypes about gender roles.”

GSJones Law Group helps employers with policies

When you think of gender discrimination, do you think only about discrimination against women? Avoiding lawsuits like this one demands broad experience in employment law. For 22 years our employment law attorney, Chalmers Johnson, has worked with employers to create policies that are lawful. In addition, he creates policies that are fair and create good employee relations. He can review existing policies, employee handbooks, and other personnel materials. Or, he can start from scratch.

Chalmers Johnson cut his legal teeth representing employees

If your employer is not treating you fairly, you want to meet with Chalmers. He can assess the situation and help you decide what will work best. Some options include coaching you in how to deal with your boss; representing you directly with a complaint; and representing you in a lawsuit.

More information on employment law services is here.

personal injury cases

Guide to personal injury cases

First steps in personal injury cases

1: Get as much information as you can as soon after the accident as possible. If you can’t do it yourself, enlist the help of family and friends. Most importantly, get names and contact information of witnesses and those involved. Take photos. Write down what happened as soon as you can so that you can capture details. If this is an on-going issue, keep a daily log.

2: Get medical treatment. If you have been injured, take care of yourself first and foremost. As you do this, you create evidence that will be used to determine the extent of your physical injuries. Don’t stint on this.

3: Find a good attorney with plenty of experience in both settling and trying personal injury cases. We have excellent lawyers with more than 40 years of experience. Nevertheless, consult with more than one attorney about your case to find a good fit.

4: The lawyer begins the investigation. The first step is getting all the information you have, as well as personal, financial, and medical background information. One of the biggest tasks is getting all your medical records and reviewing them.

5: Determination of viability. Once the attorney has reviewed all the information, she will make a determination about whether or not she believes your case is viable.

Moving forward

6: Attempting a settlement. If your attorney determines that the case is strong, she will probably make an attempt to settle it. Two factors determine when she begins settlement talks. The first is whether or not your healing is complete. Until that time, it is difficult to estimate or document the extent of your injuries and losses. Often, however, settlement or a lawsuit must go forward sooner than ideal because financial needs are great.

7: File a lawsuit. If no fair settlement results, your attorney will prepare for filing a lawsuit. He must file within the statute of limitations. In Washington state, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. It will often take as long as two years before the case comes to trial. But, fear not, there are other opportunities for settlement before trial starts.

The final steps

8: Discovery begins. During discovery, your lawyer will demand that the other parties reveal their defense and the evidence they plan to use. She will also demand evidence that you need to prove your case that the other party has. The other party makes the same demands as you. Expect interrogatories, or written questions than demand written answers; demands for documents; and depositions. You will doubtless go to an attorney’s office with your attorney. There, after swearing in you will answer questions put to you by the other party’s attorneys. It will be recorded. Allow about a year for this process.

9: Mediation and Negotiation. Toward the end of discovery, the lawyers may attempt settlement. In fact, between 80% and 95% of personal injury cases are settled before trial. And, settlements can take place even after trial has begun.

10: Trial Begins. Most of these cases are tried before a jury, so the first step in the trial is seating the jury. A trial can take a day, a week or longer, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of parties.

Get a free evaluation of your personal injury case.

Personal injury attorneys Chalmers Johnson and John Groseclose have more than 40 years experience fighting for the injured. They are happy to talk with you about your case.
Personal Injury lawyers

avoid auto accidents

5 Tips to Avoid Auto Accidents This Holiday Weekend

Labor Day weekend demands especially careful driving to avoid auto accidents. While not all car accidents can be avoided, you can reduce your chances of ending up a victim. The National Highway and Transportation Administration says that Labor Day weekend is among the ten most dangerous times to be driving. Even running errands can be more dangerous this weekend. If you can’t stay at home, here are some tips for safe driving.

Tip 1 – Avoid driving between midnight and 3 a.m. and be very cautious on rural roads.

The National Highway and Transportation Administration says that night driving, in general, is more dangerous than daytime driving. The most dangerous hours are those between midnight and 3 a.m. when there is a higher percentage of drivers under the influence. Ironically but logically, the safest time to be on the road is between 4 and 6 a.m.

If you are planning a camping trip or other events that include driving on country roads be particularly careful. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? We think of freeways with their crowding and high speeds as being more dangerous. Yet, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that fatal accidents happen 2.5 times more often on rural roads than highways. They say that drivers tend to drive faster for the conditions on rural roads and a much lower percentage of drivers wear seat belts.

Tips 2 & 3 – Make sure you are driving sober and slow down.

As you know, there will be more drivers under the influence this weekend. Thus, in addition to avoiding the peak hours for drunk drivers, it’s most important to make sure you have no drugs or alcohol in your system when you drive. That will allow you extra moments to react to reckless drivers. Slowing down also accomplishes the same result. It gives you extra time to take evasive action.

Tip 4 – Avoid distractions.

Of course, distracted driving is now illegal in Washington State. And, I know that we are all are constantly tempted. It is especially hard when we are going somewhere new and using our phones to navigate. We are certainly more likely to do that on holiday weekends. If possible, use voice navigation only. When necessary pull off the road to txt or make calls.

Yet, mobile phones aren’t the only source of distraction. Driving with children can be even more distracting. You know the routine. “Mom, make brother stop looking at me.” And then there’s escaping from seat belts and outright fighting. Make it a policy to pull over any time a distraction develops and resolve the situation before you continue traveling.

Tip 5 – Make sure your auto is in top shape.

Once again, avoiding accidents depend on quick responses. Make sure your equipment is in great shape. In addition, we’ve just had two weeks of smoke-filled air. Clean your headlights, taillights and signal lights. Also, give even your side windows a good cleaning, so you have an unimpeded view.

As Kitsap County attorneys we know all too well that there are too many ways that we all can be harmed. Please do all you can to be as safe as you can. And, if the worst happens to you, we stand ready to guide you through the legal process to better times.

If you are injured, call or message our personal injury attorneys.

Personal Injury lawyersChalmers Johnson

John Groseclose

insurance settlement negotiation

How to negotiate an insurance settlement

Should I negotiate my own insurance settlement?

If you have an insurance settlement offer you may be able to successfully negotiate a better settlement for yourself.  Your best chance is if your total damages are relatively small or your claim is with your own insurer. Here are some tips.

  • Don’t accept the first offer. Insurance companies often make low-ball offers.
  • If they believe the injury has created a financial hardship they may believe you will jump at their first offer.
    • Do what you can to cover your expenses during this time. Consistently maintaining health insurance will go a long way toward easing the financial burden of medical expenses.
    • Also, if your income has stopped or greatly reduced, consider taking advantage of any sliding scale pricing available from your medical providers. Don’t be afraid to ask.
    • Another source of financial help for medical costs are manufacturers of costly drugs. They often have special pricing available for people who can’t afford their drugs.
    • If you were in an auto accident take full advantage of any coverage you may have through your own insurance company. Check out the declarations page for coverages such as PIP (Personal Injury Protection) or underinsured motorist. They both offer coverage for your medical bills and generally are paid promptly.
  • If your claim is with your own insurance company, they will probably name your policy limits and provisions to justify their offer.
    • Make sure you know all of the provisions of your policy and ask questions of your agent if you can. In-house agents who only represent one insurance company may not be very helpful but independent agents will want to keep your business.

What is contributory fault or negligence?

Washington State has a contributory fault or contributory negligence law and the insurance adjuster may have information that leads her to believe that you were partly at fault. So, for instance, let’s say your medical bills and pain and suffering total $25,000 by their calculation. If they believe that you were 20% at fault for your injuries they will offer $20,000. All is not lost, however.

  • Ask them to document the contributory fault. That may be enough to bring the offer up.
  • If not, get your own evidence to counter their evidence. This will usually involve eyewitnesses.
    • If you are not up to the task of tracking witnesses down and questioning them about what they saw, recruit friends and family to do it for you.
    • Make sure you and the witnesses thoroughly understand what they will say to the adjuster once he asks questions. Play devil’s advocate with them.  Ask questions that probe any weaknesses or alternative interpretations of what they say. Their statements may sound great to you but once an experienced adjuster starts asking questions they may not be much help.

Put our personal injury attorneys’ 40 years of experience to work for you.

Often, however, it takes a law firm to effectively advocate for the insurance company to give you the compensation you deserve.  Call or message us for a free case review. We’ll thoroughly review the facts and if we believe we can help you get fair compensation. We stand ready to fight for you.  We know all the insurance companies’ playbook and we know how to counter them.

John Groseclose
John Groseclose, personal injury, family law attorney

Chalmers Johnson

Chalmers Johnson, personal injury attorney, employment law

co-parenting check-in

Time for a co-parenting check-in

Co-parenting? Midsummer is a great time for a co-parenting check-in.  Even while you and the kids are celebrating all the fun that summer brings, set aside a little time for keeping your co-parenting relationship running smoothly. This review is particularly critical if your child is moving to a new school or there are radical changes to the school schedule. Yet, even if all will remain much the same as last year, it is worth the time to touch base. This can also be an excellent time to review shared rules that evolve as a child grows older. When you talk together, you may find that your co-parent has changed circumstances and s/he may need some adjustments to the parenting plan.

Last minute surprises always put people in a bad mood. So do a little preventive maintenance for your co-parenting relationship.

Gather this information before you talk.

  • School and bus schedules
  • School holidays
  • List of sports and other activities
  • Significant new school events, such as graduations, prom, and other events both parents might want to take part in.
  • Review what worked well the past year and what problems you can prevent for the coming year.
  • Give some thought to rules changes if you have agreed to mutually enforced rules.

And don’t forget your personal schedule constraints.

  • Will there be a change in holiday plans this year such as a trip or visiting relatives that need schedule adjustments?
  • What about your work schedule? Are there times you know you will be out of town? Will it complicate the hand-off or maybe you’d like to offer extra time to the other parent?

What does your child know about the schedule that you don’t?

Your checklist is not complete until you sit down with your child and find out what they anticipate for the year.

  • Are there events not on the official schedule that they are looking forward to?
  • How about major parties?
  • What about activities? Do they want to drop an activity? Add one?

Do you need any help with getting an agreement for changes?

If your relationship with your ex or co-parent requires a more formal approach with an alteration to the parenting plan, David Jones and John Groseclose are happy to help you make those changes. They have a combined total of more than 40 years experience assisting parents to reach amicable agreements that work and going to court when necessary.

Share any other factors that co-parents need to consider before school begins in the comments below.