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How Much Should an Attorney Cost?

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Categories: Articles, Business, Copyright, Law, Legal Issues, Music, Music Industry, Trademark, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Erin Jacobson music attorney music industry lawyer


An attorney’s advice could make the difference for you between a successful and a nonexistent music career.   Legal fees aren’t cheap, but they’re a worthy expense in your career progress. The cost of attorneys does vary due to a variety of circumstances, so as you plan your budget, you should keep the following factors in mind.

How are lawyers’ rates determined?

1. Experience

A lawyer with more years of experience will typically be more expensive than someone who is newly licensed. Also, an attorney with more experience in (or who devotes the majority of his or her practice to) a certain area of law will be able to charge more than someone who only dabbles in that area. Someone who’s better known in the business and has had more high-profile cases can also command a higher rate.

2. Nature of your matter (i.e., what you need the attorney to do)

One of the most important factors that dictate the amount that you will have to pay an attorney is what you actually need the attorney to do for you. A short and simple contract or a consultation to answer questions will cost less than if you require a long, complicated contract to be drafted or reviewed. If you’re starting a company, you’ll need all new contracts drafted, which will take more time and thus be more expensive than reviewing a five-page agreement. Attorneys tailor contracts to your specific situation, which takes the attorney’s time and skill to create something specific to your needs. The amount of time needed for negotiation is speculative, as it’s rare to be able to predict the other party’s agreeability to contract changes or willingness to wrap up the deal promptly.

3. Office arrangement

It may sound unimportant, but the location of an attorney’s office and the type of office that he or she has does factor into the fees charged. Attorneys in larger metropolitan areas and more expensive parts of town will charge more than those who have offices in less desirable areas. An attorney who’s part of a larger firm or who has a high-rent office will have to charge more to cover that rent. In contrast, an attorney with lower overhead costs may be able to charge less and pass those savings on to the client.

4. Extra fees

There are often other fees you’ll be responsible for when working with an attorney, such as filing fees. Copyright and trademark registrations have application fees set by the Copyright and Trademark Offices, respectively. Similarly, a trademark search company will set the fees to conduct a trademark search. In court matters, there are filing fees required and set by the court that will need to be paid to process your case. Attorneys have no control over these fees.

Other additional fees that may need to be paid to your attorney may involve things like postage or copying costs on your behalf. These are not ordinary costs in an attorney’s business. You are paying the attorney for his or her time, skill, experience, and advice, not for secretarial matters that are the client’s responsibility. These are fees that will be incurred no matter what your attorney’s fee is, but it’s important to remember that they are your responsibility so you can include them in your budget.

Fee structures

Fee structures vary greatly among attorneys. In Los Angeles, attorneys tend to range from about $250 to $750 or more per hour. Some attorneys require an upfront retainer payment, which is an advance against fees earned. Other attorneys will not require an upfront retainer payment, but will bill you after the work has been completed. In both of these scenarios, attorneys will keep track of the amount of time that they worked on your matter, and then multiply their hourly rate by the amount of time spent on your matter to calculate your total fee. There are also attorneys who will also work on a flat-fee basis depending on the task at hand.

Other attorneys work on a percentage basis where they don’t necessarily keep track of the amount of time that they worked on your matter, but will instead take a certain percentage of the amount you receive under the deal they’re negotiating for you. Alternatively, some attorneys will take a percentage, usually five percent, of your gross income. Attorneys who work on percentage usually only do so for high net worth clients, as otherwise the number of hours invested in a client may greatly exceed the amount paid to the attorney.

Some attorneys will use a client’s income and/or industry status as deciding factors in whether to represent a client. Especially at the larger law firms, many attorneys won’t accept new clients who won’t guarantee a certain amount of income to the firm.

Some litigators (attorneys who handle lawsuits in court) will take a case on contingency, meaning that they only get paid if they win your case, and then will take a percentage of the recovery from the case. However, most attorneys do not take cases on contingency, and will require an hourly rate and an upfront retainer. Again, these fees will vary based on the factors discussed above.

When you’re interviewing a potential attorney, ask about his or her rates and fee structure to determine if you can afford that particular attorney.

How much do common musician services typically cost?

It’s incredibly difficult to generalize prices of what a certain matter will cost, as it depends on all the factors explained above. I’m quite hesitant to actually name numbers since they vary so drastically, but I will do my best to give an idea of the most basic matters to provide you with a starting point. (These are general fee ranges based on examples I have seen in the industry. These numbers are not quotes of my services, an advertised fee, or guarantees of fee amounts. If you need this type of agreement drafted, it will need to be based on your particular circumstances and your attorney’s best judgment.)

1. Copyright registration

Copyright registrations are usually $35 to $55 for the registration fee, plus the time it takes for your attorney to file the application. Absent complicating circumstances and including only a small group of titles, this should usually take about an hour or less of your attorney’s time. There are also services like Indie Artist Resource that can register titles from $135 to $335, depending on the number of titles.

2. Trademark application

Trademark application fees are based on the number of categories (called classes) in which you want to protect your mark. For one class online, the application fee runs from $275 to $325. If you are registering in more than one class, multiply that number by the number of classes for which you are applying. Again, the application itself probably takes about an hour of time, but the Trademark Office usually requires amendments to be made later, which are again based on the attorney’s time spent on those amendments. The number of amendments requested depends on the mark, other marks already registered, and the attorney at the trademark office assigned to your application. A trademark search from a reputable company starts just under $800 for a word mark and just over $600 for a logo.

3. Basic music business agreements

Something like very basic agreements for management, producer, or band partnerships could cost $800 to $2,000+ depending on the agreement and details of your situation, or $300 to $400 for a template.

 

Again, all legal fees will vary depending on your specific situation, so the most effective plan of action would be to figure out what you need as completely as possible, and then ask attorneys for an estimate. If the cost of what you need is above your budget, consider a solution like Indie Artist Resource, or save up more money for the investment – and it is an investment in your career.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. The content contained in this article is not legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific matter or matters. This article does not constitute or create an attorney-client relationship between Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you or any other user. The law may vary based on the facts or particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not rely on, act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking the professional counsel of an attorney licensed in your state.

If this article is considered an advertisement, it is general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.

Originally posted on Sonicbids.com

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 8

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the last several weeks, I have outlined many qualities to consider when choosing an attorney.  Once you have decided what kind of attorney you want, the next step is actually finding one

How to find an attorney?

Ask your other creative friends whom they use as their attorney.  With the wealth of information on the Internet, it is also possible to find information for the attorney of another artist you admire.  There are several attorney directories like lawyers.com and findlaw.com you can browse.  You can also search for attorneys and view their websites, or refer to networks like LinkedIn.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 7

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

You know what they say:  “Location, location, location!”

Location

If you have to meet with your attorney or go to his/her office, you may want to make sure the attorney’s office is in a convenient location or that you are willing and able to travel to his/her office.

Next time, I’ll discuss how to find an attorney after thinking about all of the criteria I have explained over the last several weeks.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 6

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Always an important concern is price.  How much does the attorney charge?

Price

Attorneys have different billing rates based, which are mostly based on their experience and number of years in practice.  Some attorneys only bill hourly and/or take retainers, while some will also charge a flat fee or take a percentage of income.  Take serious consideration of what the attorney quotes you and whether you can afford it.  An attorney will not be happy if you think you can afford their rate and then rack up a large bill you cannot pay.

There is one point I need to address because I feel a lot of people do not understand it.  Lawyer’s rates are based on time expended on a matter, experience, years of schooling and learning a skill.  It is different than walking into a store and getting a product.  Many people seem to feel that they should not have to pay for legal services because they do not walk out of the office with a tangible product in hand.  When you pay an attorney, you are paying for that person’s time and skill.  You are paying them to provide a service to you that you should not provide for yourself.  Even attorneys hire other attorneys when they have legal problems.  Just as you spent your time and used your talent to craft a song or write a screenplay and expect to be paid for it, the attorney will do work for you and expect to be paid for it.

Next time, I’ll address attorney location concerns.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 5

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Consequences

Something that goes along with your attorney’s style is the consequences of your attorney’s style.  Some attorneys have bad reputations and people do not want to  deal with them.  Other attorneys have killed or almost killed deals for clients because they are difficult to work with or have a large ego.  Ask other people you know in the industry if they know anything about the attorney, or even ask the attorney for references.  If they are well respected, it will show.

Next time, I’ll talk about fees.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 4

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Another very important consideration in choosing an attorney is that attorney’s style.

Style

When you envision your attorney, what do you see?  There are some attorneys that scream at everyone to get the job done.  There are attorneys that would like to party with the band on the tour bus.  Some attorneys are not that extreme, but are still friends with their clients.  Other attorneys do not like to socialize with their clients and prefer to quietly sit in their offices.  Some attorneys are in the middle of all of those types.  Your attorney is part of your team and is a representation of your image in some cases.  Think of how you want to do business and there will be the type of attorney for you.

Next time, I’ll talk about the consequences of some of these attorney practice styles.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 3

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I have already covered attorney personality and artists’ needs in choosing an attorney.  Another thing to consider may be whether the attorney has similar clients to your musical genre.

Similar Clients

One way to help an artist find an attorney is for the artist to consider an attorney that might already have clients similar in style and genre to your music.  If you are a hip-hop artist, you might want to go with an attorney that has other successful hip-hop clients.  If you are a metal band, try to meet with an attorney who handles work for several other successful metal bands.  This is not essential, but it is a good starting point for an artist who does not currently know any attorneys and wants to do some research on who he is interested in talking to further.  Also, an attorney with clients in your particular genre may also have existing relationships with important people within that “world,” which will be beneficial to your career.

Next time, I’ll talk about different attorney practice styles.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 2

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Last week, I talked about the importance of an attorney’s personality.  This week, I address another top concern in choosing an attorney — the artist’s needs.

Artist Needs

Attorneys do different things.  Some litigate (sue people), some draft and negotiate contracts.  Other attorneys “shop” or try to get clients a deal, while other attorneys have a strict “no shopping” policy.  What do you need at this point in your career?  What do you think you may need as your career grows?  Think about these things and try to find an attorney whose services match your needs.

Many attorneys do not shop, so it is wise to check the attorney’s website or ask the attorney for his/her shopping policy before requesting that the attorney shop you.

Next time, I’ll talk about attorneys with a client base that fit your genre.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU — Part 1

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Categories: Business, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

In my last post, I covered the importance of hiring an entertainment attorney for your entertainment law needs.  Now I will discuss how to choose the right attorney for YOU.

Choosing an attorney is all about the right fit between the attorney and the client.  There are a several aspects to consider in deciding what kind of attorney is right for you.  I will review these various aspects in the next several weeks over a series of posts.

Personality

Aside from being a skilled attorney, personality is the most important aspect in choosing an attorney.  Do you actually like this person?  Does (s)he explain things to you and counsel you on your career?  Does (s)he consider your goals?  Does (s)he listen to you?  Do you feel comfortable with this person?  Do you feel like you can trust this attorney?  If the answers to all of these questions are yes, you may have found an attorney that is right for you.  If you have answered no to one or more of these questions, you might want to keep looking.

Next time I’ll explain how to tell if an attorney will meet your needs as an artist.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  All Rights Reserved.  If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it.  You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only.  They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters.  If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.  Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user.  The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state.  You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site.  Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state.  For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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Why Hire an Entertainment Lawyer?

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Categories: Business, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Hire an Entertainment Lawyer?

By:  Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

Many creative people, especially those who are just starting out or are still at “indie” status, cannot afford expensive legal services.  Some artists decide to proceed without an attorney, while others may use a friend/cousin/brother-in-law/etc. that is a real estate/personal injury/construction/etc. attorney willing to review a contract for free.  Both of these scenarios are detrimental to the artist, and here is why:

It is highly ill advised to enter into contracts without having an attorney review them.  First, these contracts contain specific language that is quite foreign to someone not trained to interpret and understand it.  Second, companies offering contracts to artists have had highly skilled lawyers draft these documents and often draft them in a way that is confusing, sneaky and intended to mislead the artist.  I have encountered many artists, some of whom became my clients, who previously signed these types of deals without consulting an attorney.  The result was that they got stuck into a bad deal, realized their mistake after they had already lost significant amounts of income and then needed someone to fix the situation – so they hired me.

Having a non-entertainment attorney look over a contract is better than proceeding without an attorney, but it is still not an ideal scenario for an artist.  This is because the entertainment industry has practices and uses terms in its contracts that only pertain to the entertainment industry.  This field is so nuanced that even film contracts and music contracts differ in some of their terminology.  An attorney that may be great at general business contracts will not be familiar with these industry-specific terms and will miss crucial points that separate a good deal from a bad one and could cost the artist a lot of money.

I understand that legal services are expensive.  However, it will be even more expensive to be stuck in or try to get out of a bad deal than had the artist hired an attorney to negotiate the deal correctly the first time.  One option is contacting a free or low-cost legal service clinic, as there are some specific to the creative community.  Another alternative is to have a consultation with an attorney.  Some attorneys will charge a lesser rate for a thirty to sixty minute consultation that may answer a lot of your questions.  A third alternative is to hire a newer lawyer that understands the business and can service the client at a lesser rate than an attorney that has been practicing for thirty years.

I always want artists to be protected and get the best deal possible.  Whomever you choose to hire, whether it be me or someone else, please make sure you get an entertainment attorney with experience in the type of deals in front of you.

In an upcoming series of posts, I will discuss how to choose the right attorney for you.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.  All Rights Reserved.  If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it.  You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only.  They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters.  If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity.  Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user.  The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date.  The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state.  You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel.  No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site.  Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state.  For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.
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