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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Deferred Action for “DREAMers” - August 2012

August 17, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security began offering deferred action for qualified undocumented immigrants on August 15, 2012. Deferred action does not confer lawful status to an individual, but it does stop the accumulation of unlawful presence for the duration of the deferral period. Qualified individuals may receive deferred action for a period of two years. The individuals receiving approval of deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed...

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Recent Developments in Virginia Sovereign Immunity Law - June 2012

June 25, 2012

The doctrine of “sovereign immunity” stems from the ancient common law proposition that the king or queen (“the sovereign”) cannot be sued without his or her consent.  While this was once absolute immunity under the common law, it has been abrogated in various ways over the centuries, but is still a strong factor in determining whether liability exists against public governmental entities and their employees within the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Recently, the Supreme...

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Vessel Operations & Environmental Law in the Chesapeake Bay: Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act - June 2012

June 04, 2012

Tug boat owners, cargo carriers, cruise ships, and pleasure vessel owners take notice -- this past February, the National Marine Fisheries Service acting under authority of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. sections 1531-1544, listed the Atlantic Sturgeon as “Endangered” in the Chesapeake Bay.  The listing decision gives tremendous protection to the fish; anyone who treats the fish in a manner that qualifies as a “take” risks civil penalties up to $25,000.00 for...

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Keeping the "Fun" in Fundraising: Avoid Inadvertent Violations of the Internal Revenue Code - May 2012

May 22, 2012

School booster clubs, such as those formed to support bands or sports groups, have become a popular way for parents to get involved in their children’s extracurricular activities. One of the common activities that booster clubs participate in is assisting the students in fundraising, such as selling candy bars or washing cars. Naturally, some of the students may raise more funds than others. It would seem only fair to credit those individuals in accordance with his...

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One Size Does Not Fit All: Special Considerations for Spousal Support Provisions in Marital Agreements - April 2012

April 12, 2012

Spousal support issues in divorce proceedings will be decided by the court if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.  Virginia offers no uniform formula for determining whether or not permanent spousal support should be awarded, nor is there such a formula for determining the nature, amount or duration of spousal support.  Instead, the trial court makes these decisions based upon a number of factors and circumstances for each particular case.  Marital...

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An Introduction to Hiring Foreign Workers - March 2012

March 16, 2012

Employers seeking to hire foreign nationals must be careful to comply with all requirements of United States immigration law as well as the rules and regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor. Immigration laws are complex, constantly change, and present harsh consequences for those who fail to strictly conform to their requirements. Of paramount importance for both the employer and the foreign worker is the need to maintain valid work authorization and legal...

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Protecting Proprietary Assets from Wrongful Disclosure: The Uniform Trade Secrets Act - March 2012

March 08, 2012

            A frequently litigated business dispute is the enforceability of non-compete clauses in employment contracts that seek to prevent a current employee from going to work for a competitor, particularly where that former employee might attempt to solicit your customers or clients, invite your current employees to join him at his subsequent place of employment or uses your confidential and propriety procedures, techniques, or methodologies.  Non-compete...

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Can Your Partners Give Away Their Interest in Your LLC? - February 2012

February 24, 2012

A limited liability company (“LLC”) is a flexible and relatively simple business entity and as such, has become the heavily favored choice for entrepreneurs. The Virginia Limited Liability Act, enacted in 1991 (the “Act”), created the option of an entity which combines the more attractive characteristics of a corporation and a traditional partnership.  Members of an LLC enjoy the protection of limited liability as well as pass-through treatment of income for tax...

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Church Incorporation - February 2012

February 07, 2012

The creation of corporate entities for the purpose of limited liability has become commonplace. Individuals and groups regularly take advantage of corporations, limited liability companies, or other structures in order to limit exposure to liability, but only within the last decade has this option become available to a particular type of group in Virginia, namely churches. Churches in Virginia have traditionally operated as unincorporated associations of individuals....

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Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (“GRATs”) - January 2012

January 05, 2012

A Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (commonly called a “GRAT”) is a special trust used to pass ownership of assets to children or other family members after a specified number of years.  Potentially, a GRAT can achieve significant gift tax savings for the grantor, as well as remove the assets from the grantor’s gross estate for estate tax purposes.  GRATs can perform particularly well when the valuation rate, known as the 7520 rate, is lower—and those rates have been at...

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