NEW VIDEO: Employee Benefits Law Practice

With employee benefits constituting a large and growing segment of an employer’s total labor costs, it is crucial that employers get the most out of each dollar spent. Our attorneys help employers navigate the complex and frequently changing rules governing employee benefits.

We invite you to learn more about our practice in this new video:


Our lawyers at Fraser Trebilcock also devote substantial amounts of time to advising clients of legislative and regulatory changes in the employee benefits area, and frequently write and lecture on employee benefits topics. Click HERE to sign up to receive updates and alerts on matters related to Employee Benefits Law.


Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

Download the Checklist


9 Legal Questions Every Small Business Owner Should Ask

Business Legal Compliance ChecklistAs a small business owner, you wear multiple hats. Making sure your business is compliant with laws and regulations is a top priority. These 9 legal questions every small business owner should ask will help you evaluate where your business stands in the current landscape:

1. Should I keep this on file?

If you are questioning whether to keep a file or piece of paper, you should probably error on the side of keeping it. Proper paperwork and records are key if you were to ever be sued. Examples include employee paperwork, financial documentation, and completed contracts. A typical timeline of keeping the items is around three years, but that will vary based upon the item.

2. Is our employee handbook up to date?

A second legal question every small business owner should ask relates to the employee handbook. Your employee handbook is not only an important reference for your employees but also for you as the employer. However the information can become out of date or inaccurate. Take time to review the entire handbook and make a note of anything that needs to be updated or added. Once updated, distribute the new document to each employee either by hand or on your internal portal as applicable.

3. Do we have the proper registration for expansion?

You filed the appropriate trademarks and other protections for your business, but now it’s time to expand. Do you have the proper registrations in place to expand and still be protected? Make sure you check your previous trademarks and other registrations to see if they need to be clarified or if new filings or approvals need to be filed.

4. Are we missing out on tax deductions?

Proper planning throughout the year will make tax compliance time easier. There are a number of tax-related legal questions business owners should ask. Have you looked at each item as a potential tax deduction? Regular communication with your accountant and attorney will save you time and money.

5. How can I protect my business name?

Many small business owners know to protect their business name, but what about your logo or other identifying characteristics? These questions are essential for small business owners to ask in order to protect your business and its intellectual property from competitors or infringement. Registered trademarks should be in place to protect your business and brand well into the future.

6. Is my business set to be passed down to my family?

You have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your business. It is only natural to want to pass your business or the assets to your family once you are ready to walk away. The Boston Globe reports that 8 out of 10 family businesses have no family succession plan. Start with a conversation with your family to see if there is an interest in succession and then meet with an attorney to ensure the proper measures are in place to achieve those transition goals. For more on this topic, refer to our recent blog on Business Succession Planning.

7. What happens if my business is too successful or not successful enough?

Most business owners worry about what to do if their business doesn’t make it. However, a business owner should be prepared for both best-case and worst-case scenarios. Proper business planning can provide you and your business flexibility and protection in either occurrence. An attorney can help you select the appropriate options that are best for you and your business.

8. Am I compliant with recent Health Care legislation?

The Affordable Care Act and Health Care Reform regulations and restrictions continue to change. The complexities of these laws require businesses to remain engaged with their advisers in order to stay in compliance. Stay on top any changes in regulations by meeting with your benefits provider and attorney. If any adjustments need to be made, make sure proper communication is made to your employees.

9. How do I prepare my business for the future?

Does it look like growth or expansion is on the horizon? Make sure your business is ready and in compliance with legal real estate-related requirements. State and local requirements and compliance should be reviewed when entering a new jurisdiction.

These questions are a starting point for small business owners interested in legal compliance in the coming year and beyond. If you have specific legal questions for your small business, contact us. As a full-service Michigan law firm, our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of business law.


Business Legal Compliance Checklist

A critical overview of laws and regulations governing businesses of all sizes.

Download the Checklist


Fraser Trebilcock Hosts Ingham County Probate Court Summer Interns

On August 3, 2017, the Trusts & Estates Department of Fraser Trebilcock hosted a luncheon for 10 Ingham County Probate Court interns. Attorneys Marlaine C. Teahan, Mark E. Kellogg, Melisa M.W. Mysliwiec, and Shaina R. Reed lead discussions on:

  • future employment opportunities in the area;
  • differences among solo, small, medium or large firm practices;
  • life as a practicing attorney in the area of Trusts & Estates; and
  • benefits of a student membership in the State Bar of Michigan and the Probate and Estate Planning Section.

The interns explained their responsibilities at probate court and shared stories of participating in probate court hearings as both investigator and guardian ad litem. One intern found the probate court a thrilling place to learn. All agreed that their summer internship experience helped them grow, personally and professionally, and helped them learn more about what they want to experience in their future work as an attorney.

Fraser Trebilcock is proud to partner with the Ingham County Probate Court in informal gatherings with summer interns. Last year the interns met with the associates of Fraser Trebilcock to learn about life as a new attorney in a mid-size, full service Michigan firm. We look forward to future luncheons and wish this year’s summer probate court interns success as they return to school. Many thanks to Scott J. DeWeerd, Deputy Probate Register, for helping make this luncheon happen.


New Research Likely to Lead to Increase of Concussion Related Litigation

As sports concussion awareness continues to gain national headlines, so too will concussion related litigation.

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association made headlines recently for its findings relating to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former NFL players.[1] The research examined the brains of 111 deceased former NFL players and found evidence of CTE in 110.  Somewhat lost in the headlines was that researchers also examined brains of former football players at all levels, not just those who participated in the NFL. According to the study, evidence of CTE was found in three of the 14 brains of players who only played in high school and in 48 of 53 college players whose brains were studied. In total, of those examined, CTE was diagnosed in over 87% of former football players at all levels.

While this new research is certainly bound to affect on-going concussion litigation against the NFL and NCAA, expect it to also accelerate the trend of lawsuits against youth sport organizations and high schools relating to concussions and safety protocol.

Between 2009 and 2015, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed laws to address the issue of concussions in youth sports, mostly modeled on Washington State’s groundbreaking Lystedt Law. This new CTE research may lead to the enactment of stricter concussion protocols.  However, more stringent standards could actually contribute to an increase in concussion related litigation. Recently, the Supreme Court of Washington (the first state to enact concussion safety laws) ruled that the family of a deceased high school football player could proceed with claims against the high school and coach for violations of the legislation based on an implied cause of action theory.[2]

While participation in tackle football may be down in recent years, according to a 2016 survey published by the National Federation of State High School Associations, football remains the number one high school participation sport in the United States. This fact, coupled with the recent CTE revelations is likely to lead to an uptick in the amount of concussion related litigation.

To learn more, contact an attorney at Fraser Trebilcock at 517.482.5800 or by clicking here to fill out this form on our website.

[1] “Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football,”  Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 318, No. 4, Pgs. 360-370 (2017).
[2] Swank v Valley Christian School, — P.3d —- (2017); 2017 WL 2876139 (Wash. July 6, 2017).