For mobile/virtual business owners meeting clients in public is pretty common practice. This article will introduce the discussion of protecting your client’s privacy in the process.

Whether you own a mobile/virtual business or not, you’ve likely taken advantage of a coffee shop or other public venue to meet with a client. NOTE: If you have done this then you have whether knowingly or not, utilized the convenience of a mobile office and an Office Without Walls™).   Starting out I did this exclusively to keep my overhead down and more and more this the preferred method of avoiding costs for office space where it’s not necessary.

Cross those widely known points with one of the most common questions I get after presentations which is “aren’t you concerned about violating client privacy in public?” and you get to what inspired the topic of this article.

Although client privacy, the Model Rules and fiduciary duties for business owners are commonly addressed topics especially in a digital age, most literature on the subject points to concerns with things like electronic data and data breaches, and there isn’t much written content available on the topic as it relates to client meetings in public, and public disclosures specifically.

  1. Physical Positioning & Awareness

Awareness of your surrounding should begin before you even arrive at a meeting location. Visit in advance if possible or look for photos online if you are not already familiar with the venue set-up. Arrive early and position yourself in the ideal location so you’re not asking the client to move or rearrange themselves.

Plan to place yourself in a seat with your back to the wall. Be mindful of what is on the wall behind you when you do this and make sure that an unintentional reflection of what is on your laptop screen doesn’t undue your efforts at maintaining privacy. Be mindful throughout the course of the meeting with your client. Share tangible and digital information with an awareness of who can see it other than the client and yourself.

  1. Presentation Styles

Choose the presentation style you want to utilize with a consideration for how it will not only impact actual privacy concerns but also your client’s perception of your interest in those concerns. Your client should feel comfortable and that you are being mindful of their information and privacy.  Consider how you might be able to address perceptions while at the same time contributing to the overall client experience while in your mobile office.

For example, think about using tablets to present Power Points, Spread Sheets, PDF files and more. If you are proficient enough keep a stylus and use it as a note pad to jot notes. Save the work for future reference or easily share it with team members later. Tablets sit flat on a surface and minimize the risk of unknowingly broadcasting information to third parties.

  1. Noise/Voice Volumes

Use noise canceling headphones for over-the-phone meetings in public. You will avoid distractions while keeping hands free and protecting others from hearing your conversation. Be mindful that the volume of your own voice doesn’t defeat the purpose of your efforts.

  1. Privacy Screens
    A computer privacy screen, sometimes called a privacy filter, is a thin piece of plastic that’s placed over your monitor or display panel in order to prevent wandering eyes from absorbing confidential information. You may have seen a similar device at the bank if you’ve ever tried to peek at your account balance when the teller walked away. Privacy filters use the same type of technology.Strong passwords, anti-virus software, data encryption, and heightened awareness go a long way toward keeping your information secure, but they can’t defend against visual hacking. Computer privacy screens protect against this serious security threat by simply adhering to your laptop screen or desktop monitor to restrict the device’s viewing angle so that only the person in front of the screen can see what’s on it. Anyone attempting to steal a glance from the right or left will only be able to see a blank screen.In my Office Without Walls™ Wednesday video from last week https://www.youtube.com/user/Sahmra1331 (August 7th) I mention privacy screens and you can find examples on my Amazon list here: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/32W6C1TRC8T3K?ref_=wl_share

 

  1. Monitoring the Presence of “Guests”
    When meeting in public the presence of “guests” should be treated the same as in a traditional office. They should generally not be allowed. If privacy and confidentially is an issue (or if you’re not sure of a potential harm) ask that a client’s guests find their own place to sit or maybe that they leave and return at a time when it is most appropriate for them to be there.
  2. Secure Virtual Connections -virtual meetings and virtual collaboration
    Does the application you are using to connect with client virtually have security capabilities that meet your needs? Client controlled tools include selective meeting invitations, meeting details and application security and E2E chat encryption. Session keys should be generated with a device-unique hardware ID to avoid eavesdropping and/or data being tampered with or read from other devices.

When choosing a provider or software for your virtual meetings ask about the following options

  • Host & Client Authenticated Meetings
  • Open or password protected meetings
  • Edit or deleting records of meetings
  • Host controlled joining meeting
  • User Authentications
  1. Take Your Trash With You!

This is an easy one but one that is also easily overlooked. Make it a practice to not throw away notes or documents of any kind in public trash cans or receptacles. Tearing the page does not solve the problem either. Take it with you and dispose of it in a controlled environment. When appropriate make a point of showing your client that you are doing so that they are aware of your efforts. It will increase trust and put you both on the same page with one another about protecting the content of your meeting.

 

  1. Communicating Internal Policies/Procedure With Clients

There is no better cure for misunderstanding than communication in advance. Address your business policies with regards to privacy, the use of technology, public meetings and all other aspects of managing a mobile, virtual or hybrid office. This should be done as soon as the client is brought on board in a welcome letter. An informed client is the best kind and having things written out will keep everyone in the case on the same footing as to what to expect, how and when.

Communicating expectations early on  and in a manner that is complete and easy to understand will build your client’s confidence in your abilities. Clients might also be more forthcoming with sensitive information that helps you do your job is they know that it will be handled in a way that meets their expectations.

  1. Know Any Venue Requirements Beforehand

When utilizing meeting rooms and more formal public spaces, find out if there is a sign-in required and if your client will be expected to give his/her name, show ID or the like. Some clientele may not be on board with creating a record of your meeting. Find out in advance to avoid an embarrassing interaction. If he meeting is of such a variety you might go as far as to heck for the placement of security cameras and other security equipment in lobbies and parking lots. You should of course be billing for those kind of efforts and your client should be aware of the lengths you have gone to if you do (wink-wink).

  1. Use Good Judgment

No matter how many steps you take to protect yourself and your client in advance, the use of good judgment is your best defense against unintentional breaches.

 

 

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq. (“Your Happy Family Law Attorney”)

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com;

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

Twitter: @SAS_Law;

Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

www.sasfitpractice.com

Traveling with a reusable water bottle is a great way to reduce your environmental impact (and save you from having to spend $5 at the airport just to stay hydrated). But there is a downside: Carrying around an empty bottle in your already tightly packed travel bag is different kind of wasteful.

Thankfully, collapsible water bottles have recently grown in popularity. They’re generally made with lightweight, flexible materials like silicone that allow you to fold, flatten, or twist them down to become compact enough to fit easily into your bag (or even your pocket in some cases) and then expand again when it’s time to fill up.

Below, we bring you FIVE of the best collapsible water bottles to pack for your next trip. If you’re worried about the bottle collapsing while you’re trying to drink from it, that’s not an issue with these structured picks. And they all cost less than $40

1.    Biaggi “Let’s Roll” Space Saving Water Bottle

*SINCE MY LAST POST THIS HAS SOLD OUT ON THE WEBSITE* ($11.99 on the Website and $19.99 on Amazon)

Keep healthy and hydrated wherever you go with this convenient, versatile, and foldable water bottle. The bottle is made from break-proof silicone which is BPA free and of high “food grade” quality which keeps drinks cool for hours. The roll-up design allows you to easily stow it in your pocket, your purse, or hooked onto your backpack or carry-on.

DETAILS

-Dimensions: 17 fl oz (500 ml) capacity, 9″ tall 3″ wide and 4″ x 3″ x 4″ rolled up. Weight = .18 lbs

-Attached elastic band wraps around the rolled up bottle, keeping it compact and secure

-Includes metal clip, allowing you to hook it onto a bag, bike or belt loop

-Extremely durable silicone material, withstands temperatures from -40ºF to 212ºF

-Dishwasher safe, and easy to wash by hand as well

-Leak proof cap and snap-down dust cover, keep the bottles contents secure and clean

-Perfect for travel, camping, hiking. Store it in your carry on bag while going through security, then fill it up and enjoy a cool drink for the duration of your flight!

 

2. Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle

This foldable water bottle was a best-seller this past Amazon Prime Day, so you know it’s good. Other perks? It has a leak-proof cap, is dishwasher safe, and is made of durable, shatterproof silicone.

To buy: amazon.com, $24

 

3. Vapur Element Water Bottle

This flexible bag-bottle comes with a carabiner so you can hook it onto your bag for hands-free carrying.

To buy: amazon.com, from $12

 

4. Hydaway Collapsible Travel Water Bottle

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This top-rated, 21-ounce bottle shrinks down into a compact disc that you can fit into your carry-on, purse, or even your pocket.

To buy: amazon.com, $25

 

5. Que Collapsible Bottle

This spiraled bottle collapses into half its size with just a simple push.

To buy: amazon.com, $26

 

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

www.sasfitpractice.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

How you start your day can have an incredible impact on how the rest of it goes. How much energy you have, how efficient and productive you are, if you achieve the right things, and how much you enjoy the journey. There are millions of others out there trying to beat you. There are only so many days to make progress. So, while many workers see morning routines as a luxury, top performers are very mindful of what they do.

If you’re anything like me you have fully grasped the importance of a morning routine but putting one together and sticking to it not so much.  There are SO many opinions out there about how to do it and what works best.  A google search alone will leave you feeling overwhelmed and ready to abandon the whole bit if you’re not careful. It took me two years of searching and sorting and trying other people’s methods before I landed on my own and started practicing a morning routine consistently. There are a few things that I wish I hadn’t had to learn the hard way. If I had realized these three (3) simple principle I probably would have found my way faster:

  1. KEEP IT SIMPLE:

It’s easy to overcomplicate what can really just be a simple and gentle process as you’re starting out. I was the queen of going overboard when trying to kick start myself into a new routine or habit. “Drive it home” was the thought process. It turns out that approach contributed as much to my success as it did to my failures at times. Forcing things doesn’t last.  Being kind to yourself and allowing a gradual transition is the best way to approach long term change.

In my challenge groups and with my one-on-one coaching one of the things that I suggest is starting with a glass of water in the morning. Setting out a glass on the nightstand before bed is a great way to prepare. Make finishing that glass that the first thing you do every day for 3 weeks before adding on another practice and continue to build from there.  I like the glass of water routine as a starting point because its so simple that messing it up is virtually impossible, and because it encourages preparing for a good morning the night before, which I’ve come to learn is an essential tool to incorporate over time.

  1. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF

Your morning routine is YOURS. Whatever it is that you end up designing should be for YOU and you alone. No incorporating daily tasks like making lunches for the kids, or making breakfast for the spouse. Those might be daily routines but a wellness morning routine really should be centered around you, mindfulness and awareness. You can’t get the full benefit of those with others in the room. If you spend part of your mornings with others, make sure at least one of your rituals is a solo gig.

  1. KEEP IT PERSONALLY TAILORED

What works for you is going to work for you and nobody else. You can read thousands of examples of morning habits and rituals online (and try them all) but the only ones that will stick are the ones that really fit who you are as a person. Who we are as people changes over time as we grow and evolve. Be open to your morning routine growing and evolving. Embrace that it will as you start. There is no need to be wed to one practice forever. Its routine practice that matters, not what is looks like.

[4. *KEEP IT GOING UNTIL SOMETHING HAPPENS] Don’t quit on your routine before the miracle happens. You wouldn’t be reading this if there wasn’t some desire o create change in your life. If you’re willing and you want change then it will come so long as you keep showing up.

 

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

www.sasfitpractice.com

 

 

 

 

  1. Insist on self-expression
  2. Get In Action. Stay In Action.
  3. Seek gratitude awareness
  4. Try and help someone everyday
  5. Move the Body. Feed the Mind.

Taking that initial leap into entrepreneurship is just the first step. Staying out here, as one of the many blessed-to-be self-employed, dream chasing, adventure loving business owners takes real work. And doing it while protecting your happiness?! Oh boy! I’m not just talking internal work like billing, management staffing struggles, blah blah blah. To stay actively growing and happy as a business owner you need to tap into that nitty-gritty personal and professional development work. Business owners that stop seeking new growth personally and professionally are at a greater risk for falling off, into a rut, or tapping out all-together.

The hard work is ultimately worth it. What are the trade-offs you love the most? Happiness. Freedom. Living. I mean, that’s why we all keep doing it right? Living a happy and healthy life as an entrepreneur is an intentional practice, and living your BEST LIFE is the natural side effect that comes from pursuing and improving that practice every day.

Over the past year I’ve been playing around with keeping a list of 5 daily goals as a way of providing some baseline structure for my everyday growth as a business owner and an individual.

The list above has become my daily set of goals. I write out all five in my journal every morning. These are the things that I need to try to achieve on a daily basis to guarantee I keep moving forward in life and in business.

I’m open to my list growing and changing just like I will always be but for now these are my bottom-lines for a successful day. Do you have a list of daily goals? How do they guide you?

1. Insist On Self-Expression

The benefits of active self-expression are often times subtle and work “behind the scenes” in our lives. When practiced regularly, intentional and active self-expression promotes self-awareness, self-knowledge and self-control.

What does active self-expression look like? Active self-expression is different for everybody at different times. That’s the beauty of it! There aren’t any rules to how you do it because it’s yours! Singing, dancing, drawing, writing a blog article, journaling, speaking to others, designing a new workout… these are just a few that I rely on, but the possibilities are endless.

2. Get In Action. Stay In Action.

Yes I’m talking momentum. On days when I have it the goal is enjoying the ride, not getting carried away but also not blocking that blessing, baby!

On days when I don’t the goal is finding it. When I’m stagnate it’s usually because I’m procrastinating on starting something. Procrastination is frustrating, It can jack-up a whole day. My procrastination is usually rooted in fear, but knowing that isn’t always helpful in the moment because, “hello” I have things to get done. Pausing to evaluate my hang-ups, anxieties and inner struggles when there is a deadline to meet is not going to work.

What IS helpful when I’m stuck, or can’t get started, is reminding myself to just do SOMETHING. Anything really. I’m not always convinced of that at first so sometimes I practice breathing or singing to myself as I just go through rote motions of folding clothes or organizing papers until my workflow and clarity return. I’ve decided that’s my own form of “active meditation” lol.It works for me.

3. Seek Gratitude Awareness

I love this goal because gratitude is truly a game-changer and more importantly it’s a choice. I usually have to apply this at the end of the day when I’m doing inventory because I am QUICK to put myself down for not getting one or two things done in a day. Never mind the twelve things I did do lol. If I don’t actively make myself aware of my flawed perspective it can carry-on into the next in the form of worry, fear and guilt.

The point is that what we focus on throughout the day (and at night) magnetizes in our minds. Choosing to focus on gratitude and positive takeaways keeps me MOVING FORWARD (Get in action & stay in action) and attracts more good things into my life.

4. Try To Help Someone Everyday

Helping others should be a natural extension of every business leader’s responsibilities. Working in a service profession I’ll admit this one did not become a regular daily practice for me for some time because, well, I thought what I was doing professionally was enough.

Going out of your way to help others is different. It forces me to get out of my own head and shift my focus from self and all the things I can’t control in life. It helps me put into perspective my own concerns and problems.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’re fresh out of ideas try picking up the phone and calling someone to just ask how they are doing.

5. Move The Body. Feed The Mind.

The most direct way to change how I feel inside is to change how my body is moving on the outside. Think about how our moods are reflected in our body language. When were tense or stressed we carry ourselves like it. When we are feeling free and loos we move like it too. It follows that creating movement in the body can move the brain as well. Maybe not as quickly but I like to think just as effectively.

Movement is also a great way to get unstuck and jump start my brain for doing work-work. I’m talking a 15 minute walk or sit-ups and squats by my desk if that’s where I’m stuck that day. It can lift me right out of a poor state of mind or some procrastination when I’m willing to let it. It creates the momentum I need to get in action and stay in action.

Feeding the mind goes hand-in-hand with moving the body. I believe that negative emotions like anxiety and fear are allergic to things like sunlight, fresh air, mediation, prayer, self-election and movement. If I’m insisting on being happy, it makes sense that those things are a part of my daily. Most importantly, exercise has helped me build confidence and self-esteem over time which are essential to living my best life, happy and free!

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

www.sasfitpractice.com

 

 

 

 

I’m a business owner. I ain’t got time to lose my mind. If you can relate…here are some apps to help you guard your sanity no matter when or where you need them.

Insight Timer.

Rated as the top free meditation app on the Android and IOS stores, Insight Timer is home to some 7,697 free guided meditations, music tracks, talks and courses on a variety o topics. There are so many topics and practices to choose from; you can listen and find what works best for you.

Best part or lawyers – you get to decide how much time you want to devote to the practice. You can literally find tracks that last no more than a few minutes. Perfect for a quick mid-day stress relief session!

For more info visit insighttimer.com.

Headspace.

According to the folks at Headspace, “[i]t only takes a few minutes to change the rest of your day.”  Headspace teaches you to mediate and live mindfully with hundreds of themed sessions on everything from stress to sleep. BONUS! There are short session for busy schedules! -See, I told you I was gonna take care of you!

Meditation has been shown to promote subtle improvements in focus, attention and the ability to ignore distractions. Even if you don’t feel stressed, mediation can be useful for overall mental well-being in your practice.

For more visit headspace.com.

Worry Watch.

If you find yourself distracted by worries about cases, clients or personal events, Worry Watch may be an app for you. Worry Watch is a journaling app that allows you to track your worries in the moment and revisit them later.

The idea: You “reflect” on your anxiety patterns “realize” the outcome, and “reform” based on your own statistics. You might find that many of your fears are unfounded.

For more visit worrywatch.com.

Happify.

Our profession often creates and allows negative thinking patterns to take over and we don;t even realize it. Happify is a brain training app that helps you break negative patterns of thinking while forming new habits to help you take control of your thoughts.  The app consists of games and activities that can be used anytime and anywhere. YES!!!

As Happify says, “[s]mall slices of time can make big-time changes.”

For more visit happify.com.

Pacifica.

According to Pacifica, our reality is created through ongoing cycles of thoughts, feelings and behaviors. These can be positive or negative. Pacifica works to help you break negative cycles and learn to manage and change thinking and behavior patterns through cognitive behavioral therapy.

For more visit thinkpacifica.com.

 

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life Follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

 

5 things you could be doing personally everyday to help your business grow and meet its goals 🙌. Let’s dig right in….

1. Set clear intentions for your day: First things first, did you take time to identify what needs to get done today and what things take priority or are you just jumping out of bed and into the chaos?

Ordered thinking requires more than good intentions or falling into distracted morning routines. Set time aside to quiet your mind before you do anything else. If you haven’t already, consider a mediation or yoga practice. WRITE IT OUT. On your phone, on a post-it, whatever keeps you organized just get it down. Journaling is a great morning exercise too and can accompany that.

2. Honor commitments. “Obligations squarely met” Make a decision to honor your commitments no matter what and stick to it!! That applies to both business and personal. Avoid cutting things out to catch-up on other things. You will be taken more seriously. You will get more done in the long run. You’ll enjoy greater balance. You’ll avoid negative self-talk.

3. Bring the best product: There’s nothing better than that good-good tired after a long day of bringing your all. Why shouldn’t that be the goal every day. You may not always have the same energy but you can make a consistent commitment to do the best you can with what you have.

4. Try and help someone every day. That’s it. You’ll will benefit and so will your work.

5. Clean house. Take inventory: a business that doesn’t take inventory will fail but this applies to you personally as well. How do you expect to succeed if you’re not making time to clean house mentally and emotionally? Talk. Journal. Pray. Whatever works for you but take time for personal reflection and development on a daily basis. It’s the only way to grow.

For inspiration, motivation and outside-the-box ideas for living a healthy and happy work life Follow me on Instagram @SahmraStevensonEsq or @OfficeWithoutWalls

Or tune in for video content at….YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2XcEIoaCJ-3VoaXNnT0pwQ

#successmindset #wordgasm #personallegend #successquotes

#winningmentality #inspirationalquotes #successgoals #personaldevelopment #trusttheuniverse #5amclub #personalgrowthjourney #propertwelve #personalgrowth #couragequotes #businessadvice #powerfulwords #positivemindset #jayshetty #positivequotes #thinkandgrowrich #positivemomentum #entrepreneurminds #mindsetcoach #inspirationalbusiness #wisdomquotes

Wasting no time with my workflow: I decided I wanted to work from Atlanta for a couple days so that’s what I’m doing. Travel deal, good excuse to see friends and practice makes perfect with my office without walls so deuces!
“For me life is nothing without creating experiences. Travel, trying new things and exploring is of maximum importance to me. I want a workflow that encourages me to do that, not one that creates fear and anxiety about doing things I know are healthy for me.”

Stepped off the plane to emergency emails, texts and phone calls in one of my crazier custody cases. I was hungry and had to move quickly so I googled some of the best reviewed diners in town and posted up to start drafting a responsive pleading.

3 fried green tomatoes and a side of black eyed peas later and so far I’m pleased with the way I can produce in a pinch and from literally anywhere. The mobile parts of my office have shrunk to 1/3 the contents of a carry-on bag and unlike this time last year all office projects can be managed from an app on my phone.

Looking at this I can see how our little office without walls has naturally just developed and evolved into its own groove. Some call that a workflow. Finding one that works for your lifestyle is a journey, but one worth taking.  The workflow that allows me to live a happy and fulfilled life is one that allows me to stay mobile and change my surroundings as needed.  For me life is nothing without creating experiences. Travel, trying new things and exploring is of maximum importance to me. I want a workflow that encourages me to do that, not one that creates fear and anxiety about doing things I know are healthy for me.

I’ve never been on board with cookie-cutter plans or doing things like everyone else just because. A workflow that works with who you are naturally is one that’s going to allow you to produce your best work, live your best life, and be your best you.

For more about workflows and living your best life as a young professional check out my blog www.officewithoutwalls.org, follow my YouTube Channel @sasfitpractice or download my FREE OFFICE WITHOUT WALLS POCKET GUIDE from one of my Instagram pages @OfficeWithoutWalls or @SASFitPractice

Owners and founders of closely held businesses often involve married couples. Therefore, a consideration that all owners of these businesses should consider is the need for premarital agreements or “prenups,” which come in all shapes and sizes under U.S. law. A well drafted premarital agreement will take into account the particular needs and interests of the parties it is intended to protect. For business owners considering a prenup, there are a few areas of concern that deserve particular attention, issues that their counsel have a responsibility to keep in mind during the negotiating and drafting phases; particularly, the following:

 

  • Providing adequate financial disclosures regarding the value of the company and its business to counter any potential legal challenge that may be brought later;
  • Protecting any confidential information to be disclosed during the negotiations;
  • Restricting spouses’s access to the company’s material business documents in the event of a future legal dispute; and
  • Trying to ensure that the business owners retain exclusive rights to the ownership and management of the company in order to provide for the succession of the

 

  1. Disclosure Regarding the Value of a Closely Held Business

The value of a closely held company (and its business) may not be easy to determine, and under Maryland law there is no obligation for a spouse to obtain a formal appraisal for purposes of negotiating or entering into a prenup. Generally, a good faith statement of value stated as a range or estimate of value is adequate where an exact value is not readily ascertainable; provided, however, that when the value is stated as book value the premarital agreement should include an acknowledgement that the value may be higher. See Head v Head, 477 A.2d 282 (Md. App. 1984).

A business owner who assumes that because his or her spouse has knowledge of the business means that his or her spouse also knows the value of the company/business is making a regrettable, and an avoidable, mistake. There are a variety of options available to provide adequate disclosure in order to avoid any confusion or future legal challenge based on inadequate disclosure. For example, a business owner can provide in the prenup information such as gross and net revenue of the business, ownership interests and percentages, compensation paid to insiders and others in the business, and financial statements, such as income statements or tax returns, cash flow statements and profit-and-loss statements to support his or her spouse’s knowledge, whether constructive or actual, at the time the prenup was executed. The bottom line is that when accessing the value of a closely held business for purposes of a premarital agreement, the business owner who fails to provide meaningful and adequate disclosure of all known data and material facts does so at his or her own peril, and may jeopardize the validity of the prenup itself.

 

Counsel drafting a premarital agreement for a business owner can best serve his or her client by taking the time to get familiarized with that client’s business and the business organization, management,

 

and relationships with relevant third-parties like CPAs and financial advisors. As a part of getting to know its client, counsel should also inquire as to the existence of any past appraisals conducted on the company and its business or any of the major assets used in the company’s business.

 

If prior appraisals have been obtained, counsel should have a full understanding of those appraisals and their results. Other recommended inquiries include whether the business has received any purchase offers, whether there are any plans to conduct a public offering or other material reorganization, or whether the controlling business owner has made a personal statement of net worth. Information gathered during that process will be helpful in developing a plan for the statement of the company’s value. Furthermore, counsel needs to remain cognizant that the existence of contemporaneous documents and information will be discoverable in the event of future litigation. Accordingly, the valuation, conclusions and disclosures in the premarital agreement should be reasonably consistent, and not materially conflict, with other valuations or statements of value conducted around the same time on the company and its business.

 

1.Waiver of Financial Disclosure

Parties may waive financial disclosures by agreement. And a waiver should include an acknowledgement that the recipient had the opportunity to ask for more information or documents and that the recipient either declined or acknowledged that he or she was satisfied with the information received from the company and her spouse, and that he or she received sufficient relevant information to make an informed decision prior to signing on the dotted line.

2. Addressing Privacy Concerns and the Disclosure of Financial Data

Disclosures regarding a business can often include information that the owner would prefer be kept confidential from current and/or future family members, or from the public at-large in the event of future litigation. Concerns such as these can be addressed in advance, and possibly prevented, by utilizing a few approaches, such as the following:

  1. Disclosing each party’s net worth in the aggregate without an itemized list of
  2. Providing Business and financial records for inspection but not allowing the other party (or counsel) to retain any copies. In these circumstances, the agreement should identify each of the documents provided for review and the receiving party should be required to sign a waiver acknowledging their examination and
  3. Including a provision requiring both parties to maintain confidentiality of all financial information received from the other party, and for the disclosure schedule to be submitted to a court in any future dispute under seal and with a protective
  4. Counsel for a business owner should strongly consider requiring the execution of a confidentiality (or non-disclosure) agreement prior to making any material

3. Bulletproofing the Agreement

The same legal standards that apply for validity to a premarital agreement executed by a business owner as by any other contracting party. A business owner however must take into consideration his or her unique vulnerabilities when it comes to potential future challenges. When there is a big disparity between the parties, not only in wealth, but in experience, education and bargaining ability, a business

owner can be opening the door for claims of duress or undue influence. The following steps and actions can help prevent such allegations:

 

  1. The party seeking to establish the prenup should make his or her requests well in advance of the intended date the agreement is to be executed;
  2. The party seeking the prenup should encourage the other party to obtain counsel. Appropriate representations and acknowledgements should be put in writing and made throughout the negotiating and drafting process, especially where the receiving party fails to act or refuses outright to obtain any legal representation;
  3. Ideally, the business owner should make an adequate written financial disclosure to his or her

4. Protecting Exclusive Rights to the Business

Parties to a premarital agreement can agree in advance to whatever substantive terms they desire with respect to the disposition of property upon divorce unless the agreement is deemed to be unconscionable at the time of execution. So long as an agreement is not deemed to be unconscionable, then nothing should prevent parties from agreeing to terms, and entering into an agreement, that permits one party or the other, or both parties, to retain exclusive rights and interests in an existing business, or even to any business that is acquired in the future. It is extremely difficult to prove unconscionability at execution, however, because under Maryland law the challenger must prove both substantive unconscionability (extremely unfair terms) and procedural unconscionability (an extremely unfair process).

 

A business owner will be best served by engaging counsel who tries to balance everyone’s interests and make the process between the parties (i.e., separation and divorce, if it comes to that) as fair as possible at the time the agreement is executed. Counsel should take adequate steps to document and record the efforts that were taken in this regard in case of any future legal challenge. Finally, the terms of a premarital agreement should take into account any economic disparity (potential or real) between the parties and include provisions that create economic security for both sides, making it harder to bring later any challenge alleging that the agreement is unconscionable. Simply because there is a disparity between the parties may not be sufficient in itself. An agreement that perpetuates an existing disparity is not unconscionable. It is imperative that a party to a prenup engage appropriate legal counsel to ensure the parties’ arrangement and premarital agreement is tailored to the needs and wants, and protection, of that party.

 

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC
www.saslawoffices.com

 

www.OfficeWithoutWalls.org/blog

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com;

Twitter: @SAS_Law;

IG: SahmraStevensonEsq;

Facebook: @SASLawOffices;

 

(Making the transition to full or part-time remote/virtual office work takes some courage and the willingness to get uncomfortable.  While my transition was more of an overnight experience, the gradual approach of slowly breaking-away from relying on the four-walls of your office tomb can be beneficial to anyone unsure of what they need to make their virtual office work for their goals.  This week my posts will explore four simple ways to baby-step your way into thinking about working without walls: 1. Identifying and starting with high productivity days; 2. Explore alternatives to in-person meetings; 3. Establish and out-of-office communication and workflow; 4. Clearly define your workspace in advance.)

Part2:_ Explore Alternatives to In-Person Meetings

Most in-person meetings are productivity killers in my opinion. Unless being run in drill-sergeant fashion with a strict eye on the clock and the agenda, they often veer off into side conversations about semi-related subject matter that has no immediate utility and derails productivity.

Video chats and conference calls are some of the more obvious work around options. Most know about services like FreeConferenceCall.com, Google Hangouts, Uberconference.com, and Zoom.com that allow for free connection options by both voice and video chat. There are a host of others, both free and paid that can easily be explored in a Google search. But even conference calls can be a drag on your day and time. How many times have we all been on a call that could have very well been an email?

And emails are great, but one less discussed option is the underutilized traditional voice memo (not to be confused with voicemail which nobody uses anymore either). It’s more personal and less time consuming than an email, but also doesn’t require the person to be present in the exact moment, so you are able to communicate your thought or idea effectively in your own space and time. Most cell phones have an app built in for voice this function or you can explore Apps such as SimpleMic, and QuickVoice Recorder, that work for uploading straight from phones, tablets and accessories like the Apple Watch.

At #SASLaw we rely on software options and online collaboration tools that virtually eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings during the day. There are a host of options to explore based on your team’s size and needs. Some have overlapping feature; however each offers a different type of service from task management to instant messaging to document “templating.” For team work and project management I rely on Asana (Asana.com). Comparable platforms like BaseCamp and Slack are also offer good team organization and communication options. You can also collaborate with apps like Trello which have an online function too if you want to work from the computer instead of the phone.

Adopting these practices does not need to wait until you’ve physically removed yourself from a brick and mortar office. These are simple ideas you can start playing around with today. If you’re going to be making that leap to remote life it is still important to meet in-person with your team on a routine basis (see my article Five Easy Ways To Keep Your Remote Team Mindful & Motivated ). However, you can increase your productivity by 30-50% when you incorporate alternatives to the traditional face-to-face interactions with your team.

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org

Making the transition to full or part-time remote/virtual office work takes some courage and the willingness to get uncomfortable.  While my transition was more of an overnight experience, the gradual approach of slowly breaking-away from relying on the four-walls of your office tomb can be beneficial to anyone unsure of what they need to make their virtual office work for their goals.  This week my posts will explore four simple ways to baby-step your way into thinking about working without walls: 1. Identifying and starting with high productivity days; 2. Explore alternatives to in-person meetings; 3. Establish and out-of-office communication and workflow; 4. Clearly define your workspace in advance.

First things first….

Part 1.: _Start With A Few High Productivity Days.

No matter how easy it is for you to try something new, you will undoubtedly run into speed bumps and hurdles along the way.  If you want your virtual or remote work to work for you and to truly benefit from the experience, position yourself accordingly. Start by working remotely for one or two days a week to ease yourself into a new routine and ween yourself off your traditional comforts and surroundings.

If it’s up to you, try and choose days that best guarantee you experience a good outcome with your off-site work day, or days of the week.  The days of the week can change as you find your rhythm and start identifying the benefits and goals of remote work that are personal to you but stick with the same one or two days for several weeks in a row to give yourself enough time to collect data about what works for you and what doesn’t.

If you are accustomed to the standard M-F week and you are just getting started with working off-site one or two days a week, maybe lean towards what you know until you get comfortable with your new normal. When choosing your high productivity days consider staying away from Mondays and Fridays as a jumping-off points because of their tendency to blend into the weekend.

As your new working world and style begin to evolve and you become more comfortable working without walls you’ll notice a reduced reliance on tangible items that weigh and slow you down like paper, files and supplies. You’ll notice an increased reliance on the basic skill-sets like writing and research that make you a good practitioner to being with, and you’ll see a positive difference in your attitude and approach towards work and billable hours which translate into better business and a happier you.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Exploring alternatives to the time suck of in-person meetings

By, Sahmra A. Stevenson, Esq.

S.A. Stevenson Law Offices, LLC

Email: s.stevenson@saslawOffices.com; Twitter: @SAS_Law; IG: SahmraStevensonEsq; Facebook: @SASLawOffices; www.saslawoffices.com; www.officewithoutwalls.org