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Portland Area Law Blog

Alternative dispute resolution: The ins and outs of mediation

When legal issues arise, the first thought is to go to court in order to achieve resolution. In some cases, that may very well be the best option. In other cases, going that far may not be necessary. Alternative dispute resolution methods exist to help Oregon business owners and residents solve their legal disputes without the cost and stress of litigation. Mediation is one such method.

Mediation is where both sides of a legal dispute meet to negotiate the matter. This they will do with a third party -- called a mediator -- present. The mediator's job is not to take sides. He or she is charged with the following tasks, among other things:

  • Define the problem
  • Offer solutions
  • Supervise information exchange
  • Help draft a settlement agreement

Oregon business law: Have an issue with your partner?

Starting a business is a big move. It takes guts, hard work and a lot of determination to make it a success. Doing it with a partner certainly has its advantages, but it can also have disadvantages as well, as disputes will most likely arise at some point. Those who own companies in Oregon and who find themselves dealing with a partnership issue would likely benefit from the services of a business law attorney when seeking resolution.

Any business partnership can start out great. Conflicts tend to arise over time. According to a recently published article, there are six main reasons why partnerships fail. Those reasons are:

  • Inability to trust one another
  • Failure to achieve success
  • Personality conflicts
  • Different goals/values
  • Different levels of commitment to the company
  • Partner is a friend, spouse or other relative

Having a POA can prevent conflict and litigation

Estate planning is something that many Oregon residents fail to do. Why? No one wants to think about dying. The truth is, estate planning is about more than preparing for one's death. It is about protecting oneself and preventing family conflict that may lead to litigation.

One way to prevent conflict that could lead to litigation is by having a power of attorney in place. A POA is a legal document in which an individual designates one or more people to act on his or her behalf in the event that he or she is not present or mentally or physically able to do so on his or her own. There are several different types of POA forms, they are:

  • Ordinary
  • Durable
  • Springing

Selecting an executor for your estate

Over the course of your life, you have built an estate. Now, you need a good steward to care for and distribute your cherished assets. You need an executor.

With many people searching for an executor, they immediately think of their children. But sometimes the kids are not suitable. They can be too busy, too distracted or for another reason unable to discharge the executor duties faithfully and properly. After all, you need a stable, reliable, focused and detail-oriented person to execute your will and follow probate law. Beyond these fundamental reasons, you want an executor who will be impartial, objective and follow your directives.

Being accused of wrongfully terminating an employee?

You do everything you can to make sure your Oregon-based business is successful. You hire people you feel will do quality work and will treat you, your clients and other employees with respect. When someone does not live up to company standards or is frequently engaging in inappropriate behavior, you let them go -- as is your right. Now, because you chose to fire someone, you are being accused of wrongfully terminating that employee. What can you do?

Wrongful termination accusations are to be taken seriously. Not every claim has merit, but it does not stop some former employees from trying to seek compensation after being fired. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your business starts before the termination even occurs, and that is document, document, document. Having a paper trail of the employee's misdeeds will only serve to help you establish that you were within your rights to let that individual go.

Business law: Need help with corporate divorce proceedings?

When you started your business, you hoped it would succeed, and maybe it did for a while. Now, though, you are facing some issues with a partner or shareholders that have made it impossible to keep the company going the way you want it to. You have decided to close up shop and move on, but you are finding that corporate divorce proceedings are more complicated than you expected. An experienced business law attorney can assist company owners in Oregon through the corporate divorce process.

It does not matter if you are a small business owner or the head of a massive corporation, there are a lot of issues that may arise when dissolving a business. This is why it is something you should think twice about doing alone. It would be to your benefit to have legal counsel on your side, fighting to ensure the process is completed in a way that serves your best interests.

Oregon real estate: When zoning does not work in your favor

Every piece of property in the state of Oregon is zoned so it can be used for a specific purpose. When a person is interested in real estate that is not zoned for what he or she plans to do with it, the thought of letting the property go rather than fighting for it may be tempting. It is certainly the easier path; however, some things are worth fighting for. There are a few ways in which one might be able to get the zoning changed so that it does work for one's needs; it just takes time, effort and, possibly, litigation.

The three traditional paths to seeking a zoning modification are: filing for a variance, filing for conditional use and filing for complete re-zoning. The first two options would be for individuals who are interested in asking for permission to use the land how they want without changing the official zoning status. A re-zoning request would be for anyone who wants to use the entire property for a specific purpose that is not currently allowed and to have the zoning status changed completely.

Could naming a pet as an estate beneficiary lead to litigation?

Oregon residents who want to name their pets as beneficiaries of their estates may have questions about how to do it. They may also worry that doing so could end up causing other beneficiaries to contest the contents of the estate plan, requiring litigation to resolve the matter. Those who want to leave assets to their pet may, but they just need to go about it a certain way.

This topic has been widely publicized lately when it was announced that the late Karl Lagerfeld left millions to his beloved cat. The famed designer wanted to make sure his feline was able to continue enjoying the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. While the cat has amassed her own fortune over the years due to various jobs, Mr. Lagerfeld still felt it necessary to take steps to ensure the feline was properly taken care of.

Alternative dispute resolution: The ins and outs of arbitration

In life, conflict is normal, and people need to work together to find acceptable resolutions. Sometimes, that is not possible, and certain matters may have to be taken to court. Sometimes, going to court may seem extreme, but some assistance in resolving the matter is deemed necessary by all parties involved in the issue. This is where arbitration -- an alternative dispute resolution method that is available to Oregon residents -- comes into play.

Arbitration is, more or less, an informal court proceeding. All involved parties will have the opportunity to present their sides of a case to a court-appointed arbitrator. That person will then issue a ruling on the matter. The benefits to arbitration over traditional litigation include:

  • Potential to save money
  • Potential to save time
  • Impartiality
  • Finality
  • Confidentiality

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