Blog: Reality Check

Are you interested in making more money?

Building a better product?

Delivering better services?

As a business owner myself, I understand the struggle of other business owners and what they go through to engage clients, refine their services or products, and to grow.

Prior to launching a private law practice I worked at a leading professional services organization where I conducted program evaluations to find out whether a business’s program was working effectively and efficiently. These businesses included private companies, nonprofit organizations, executive branch agencies, and law enforcement agencies. With a Master’s in Public Administration and a Juris Doctorate, I used my analytic, organizational knowledge, and legal mind; I identified legal issues, ethical issues, and practical issues with the processes and procedures that businesses implemented. When I found these deficiencies I made recommendations that would improve the business and, in some cases, save millions of dollars. There are some measurable benefits to having a legal business consultant do some analysis on your business and figure out where the broken pieces are and put the right ones in place.

To help you understand what I can do for you, I’ll give several examples from the experience I’ve had with this:

A non-profit organization, called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, receives federal money to help catch pedophiles that lure children online to sexually exploit them. They have various partnerships and several different steps to the process to bring these predators to justice. In 2011 I was in charge of determining whether the Cybertipline and associated processes were operating effectively. By going in and speaking to the leadership, the partners, and analyzing documents that the business developed, received, or distributed, I was able to determine that the organization could improve in the way that it collected certain data. With a few changes, they could improve the effectiveness of the program. The business agreed to make the recommended changes and did so in May 2014. (See http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-334)

Who came up with the phrase “Knowledge is power” had no idea. Washington is full of the type of firm whose purpose is to be the first to disseminate new political information. My career brought me into this realm that I had never heard of before and many others—even those part of the industry had never heard of political intelligence. My directive was to analyze legal, ethical, and practical implications of political intelligence and propose a solution to regulate it. I took a deep dive into the political intelligence industry from a legal perspective and spoke to lobbyists, top law firms, financial firms, top policy firms, the Office of Government Ethics, and others. This industry still remains an industry that is somewhat in the dark due to the difficulty in targeting why some individuals seem to profit from political intelligence; the causality is difficult to prove. (See http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-389)

I’ve also helped some LLCs stay compliant and get in compliance with their state’s LLC laws. They have a number of questions like can I make this decision for my business without consulting other members? Do I need to improve my operating agreement? Do I need an employee handbook? Do I need a formal agreement in place to establish this business relationship, and can you prepare it? These are just some of the questions I have gotten.

This is the type of knowledge and over ten (10)-years-worth of experience that I bring to businesses in different industries in addition to my legal experience.

My current focus is on industries in technology, cyber security, research and development, creative types, and recipients of federal government contracts, but I’ll take you if your industry interests me. Ask for a proposal for legal, practical, and tax analysis of your business’s processes. Me and my Of-Counsel Tax Attorney that I work with will give you consultation and advice to establish better documents, practices, processes, and procedures.

I would love to work with you! Call 1-(844) 350-8343 or email me by replying to this message (or pass this email along to someone who needs it)!

Sincerely,

Pawnee A. Davis, Esq.

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Restraining orders are granted in civil court when a judge decides that domestic violence occurred. Some people get confused about the difference domestic violence that ends up in a civil court versus a criminal court and prosecuted by a District Attorney or State’s Attorney’s Office. First, I want to be clear that this firm handles domestic violence cases and the remedy is a restraining order.  Domestic violence is abuse by someone related to you or who had a romantic relationship with you. For example:

  • 1) It is your spouse doing the abuse
  • 2) It is a family member
  • 3) It is someone you are dating
  • 4) You have a child in common with the abuser

And crimes that include stalking, harassment, assault, sexual assault, and threats of assault.

If you fall into the above criteria then you likely have the type of case where you can get a restraining order.

Some people wonder if they need an attorney. You need an attorney if you have evidence you want to present and you don’t know how to because you’re not a lawyer. You need an attorney if the other side has an attorney because that attorney will know legal procedure, strategy, what makes her able to win her case, and the list goes on.

Watch the video below for some information on domestic violence cases.

 

For the full webinar and to receive a petition you can take to the courthouse, fill out the form that appears on the page.

DV Resource #1

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Download Domestic Violence Resources when you sign-up.

Resource #1 is an hour-long video that goes over what you should know if you need to file a domestic violence petition. Sign-up to have additional content automatically sent to you.

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Divorce Law Marathon Day is happening again. On Saturday, June 9, 2017 Pawnee A. Davis Law Firm PLLC is having a day of strategy sessions. You get a 45 minute consultation at a sharply reduced rate.

What are the benefits?

Learn what to expect in a divorce.
Get legal advice.
Learn what strategy can help you toward your goals.
Connect with a lawyer who can provide resources.
If you retain the firm the same day you receive a token of appreciation for us earning your business!
Get acquainted with the attorney, Pawnee A. Davis, better.
Eat the goodies we laid out!

Learn More: Click Here!

 

 

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We’re well into Spring, and as you’re chugging away at all the tasks you have on your plate, have you incorporated a business strategy you can be proud of? I don’t mean a business plan that everyone says you should have. I mean have you sat down and had a thorough analysis of your business by an independent source who can think about things in ways that you never have? Maybe this is the time.

 

I’ve done many evaluations where I had to make sure that money was being spent in the most efficient and effective ways. I went into the work, knowing very little, and not knowing what I didn’t know. Every new evaluation brought new things to learn. So, I had to pull from my prior experience and read some new and old literature on the subject matter.

 

When I would do an evaluation I even planned my plan. In a nutshell, this was my design plan for how I would do the work. After determining whether there would be any hiccups in the process, I set out to learn all that I could about that businesses processes, procedures, practices, and the current condition, or state of the business, while keeping an eye out for anything that hampered the efficiency and effectiveness of the business.

 

In the end, I found that, in doing this work I had:

  • Identified improvements that could make the business, industry, or individuals better off than they were;
  • Saved thousands of dollars for that business or industry, if recommendations were implemented; and
  • Added to the literature to establish best practices for the next evaluation of a similar kind.

 

This process an art and a science. But requires the kind of thinking that is heavily analytic, detail-oriented, but one that also sees the larger picture.

 

To implement this type of program for your business, you’ll need:

  • Someone to get familiar with your day-to-day processes;
  • To provide information and data that can be reviewed;
  • To be open-minded enough to accept a new way of doing things.

If you’ve ever seen Gordon Ramsey’s show, Kitchen Nightmares, it is a similar concept. However, I won’t swear at you, I won’t yell, I won’t throw food, and I won’t embarrass you on television (or otherwise, for that matter)! All I ask is that you let down your guard a little – just enough- to allow for a little thinking outside the box so that we can do things like you’ve never done so that you get what you’ve never got! And it’ll be more like a sweet dream than a Kitchen Nightmare!

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There is a natural intersection between business and divorce. Why? Because business owners, CEOs, and the like get divorced, too. They have an interest, whether they realize it or not, in establishing protections for their businesses.

One of the things I can do for you is help you determine what risks are present for you and your business whether you are contemplating a divorce or not.

Some of the work I do in these areas involve resolving divorce and business disputes through litigation, and preparing, reviewing, editing, and negotiating contracts. Clients have included: cyber security companies, government contractors, property management companies, homeowners, social media experts, employment contracts, and wedding planners.

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It was around 2008 that I began looking for experiences that made me feel self-actualized. Though, at the time, I didn’t know that that was what I was doing. I don’t usually discuss my life directly in my blog posts, but this time I will because it will give my readers a good idea about who I am.

First let me say that this woman, 1 and 1/2 years shy of 40 years old has started to acquire that—being self-actualized. I would never say that I’ve gotten there, as I expect that I will grow and change a little more as time goes on. But, let me say this, I kept coming back to wanting to do more, and more, and challenge myself, more and more when I was about four years into my government career.

I set off to dabble in some courses and seminars that were held by the DC Bar. I don’t know what led me to take family law courses except that I’ve always been fascinated by interpersonal relationships and how people make decisions that affect others. So, that’s where my independent education and exposure to law, post-bar exam, began. It was outside of, and in addition to, what I was doing in my government career as a policy analyst. I’ll say instead, policy and legal analyst because that’s what I was doing. I had reached the Senior Analyst title, but that was not enough for me.

While taking a training course through the DC Bar I met someone who introduced me to the DC Volunteer Lawyer’s Project—an organization that, at the time, was just starting up and serving indigent women who needed pro bono legal services in domestic violence, custody, and immigration. I was happy to have met a key leader in the organization who told me what the organization was doing, and I was happy to get involved. From there, things took off. I took on pro bono cases. I felt confident that I could go in front of a judge and provide status reports and conduct trials. I read, and researched, and wrote about child custody cases. I was learning, changing, and growing as a result, in ways that were not apparent to me yet.

One day, I had stretched myself so much and experienced so much, working independently as an attorney in my free time, while I held a cushy job in the government, that I felt in my gut that this was what I wanted to do full time. I wanted to have my own law practice and be my own boss. I wanted to invest in myself, to reach a greater potential than I was currently. I read books, watched webinars, and spoke to people about how to open up a law practice and what I needed to have in place. I took Maryland and DC courses about how to open up a law practice. I prepared myself. Then one day I left my cushy government job and set off on my own into full time practice as an attorney.

How thrilling and exhilarating! I had done it! I was prepared and knowledgeable. I was courageous in the face of not knowing what I didn’t know. But I learned along the way. I observed, and soaked everything in that I experienced. There was no way that this was not going to happen: this new life as a full time attorney and owner of my own law practice.

Oh, boy did I hit some bumps along the way in what started out as purely a family law practice. I had challenges like these: What happens if you get a client who isn’t paying? What do you do when your client is lying to you? What about when you’re not sure you can continue like you are because some of your clients are stressing you out wanting a miracle to happen? Why won’t clients listen to the fact that the outcome does not materialize overnight; it’s about a 12-month process? What do you do when your clients not paying is making you broke?

Well, you learn what not to do, you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You have faith that this is in some way what you were meant to do, but maybe not that exact practice area, ha, ha, ha! Maybe there are tweaks to be made. And that’s what any good business owner does. They learn from their mistakes, tweak, shift, and then keep going.

So, over the years, I’ve learned to trust my gut when I feel out someone’s character. I’ve learned to shift gears and listen to that little voice inside that says, don’t do that anymore, do this. I’ve learned that I need great people around me who will be on my team, who will be my allies. And I keep my eyes open for new things to learn. I’m a nerd at heart, I love to learn.

Now my law practice has evolved into something I’m proud of. I’ve created a niche, and brought two disparate ideas together: divorce and business law. Though they really are not disparate. It’s all in how you think about it. (More on that in my video blog). I trust myself when an idea is in my gut, and hey, things are working. They are working so well!

I think this creator within me who is able to take my new ideas, form them like a pile of clay into a beautiful piece of artwork, comes from my mother. She takes weeds and makes beautiful landscapes. She takes paint and makes beautiful shapes and designs on canvas. She takes simple, modest houses and creates beautiful, grand homes to live in. And she is tenacious and a strong woman.

I think this nerdy, always thinking side of me, always seeking self-actualization is from my father. He started as a young Black boy in the blatantly racist South in the 1920s. Yet, he turned into a handsome, powerful man who, in the early 1940s, became the President of AM&N College of Pine Bluff, which is now called University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He was the youngest president of all universities in the country.

After serving as President for 30 years he became the first Chancellor of the university. In the midst of the Civil Rights movement he met Martin Luther King, Jr and had him give a speech at one of the university’s commencements. Later, after serving there, he became President of Laney College in California. Can you not say that he was a great man?

So, how can I not want to continue great legacy? I think it’s threaded into my DNA. I come from two Black PhDs who grew up in small Southern towns and made it to liberal California (thank goodness!) where they raised an educated family. They overcame so much because they were wise, intelligent, strong in character, and achievers.

I know that in 2017 and beyond, every now and then life will throw me curve balls:  For example, I might continue to face discrimination and have a primarily, racially homogeneous law practice, while wanting diverse clients of ALL backgrounds. This is what I want because that’s who I am and how I grew up.

But the good that will persist, now that’s worth talking about:

  • I will continue to do my best for my clients.
  • I will continue to believe that I can do anything that I really want to do.
  • I will continue to believe that I am wise and know what is good for me.
  • I will continue to surround myself with those who believe in me.
  • And I will continue to carry a fire in my belly, courage, faith, and strength.

Because, as I continue to become self-actualized—a goal that should always be an aspiration and never actually has an end-point—I will continue to become a better me and help others become better as I serve their interests and represent them well. I will always strive to do work that I am proud of and that makes people want to put their lives and their businesses in my hands.

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Why is an attorney who knows how to keep you from a DOJ suit for corruption an asset to your company? Even if your company follows all domestic U.S. laws, if you contract for services overseas, you are now adding another several variables to the mix:

another culture, another set of laws that the foreign contractors follow– or maybe they don’t, and you have less visibility over contractors overseas. They are removed from everyday interactions.

 

With those variables in place, the risks of corruption in your company increase. There is less risk for noncompliance if the following are established. (Read below for what Workplace Answers Recommends)

How Can You Encourage Foreign Compliance?

Build an ethical culture

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) recommends building a culture of anti-corruption within your business from the top down. Management should develop clear anti-corruption policies and ethics standards, instituting mechanisms throughout the business, such as internal auditing committees, to provide multiple levels of protection.

 

You should make it clear to employees that all of them are responsible for maintaining compliance with corporate ethics and process standards. By creating a clear policy, you can more easily communicate these expectations and values to foreign offices.

Know the law

According to attorney Alex Nisengolts, you should take time to familiarize yourself with the local laws and culture of any nation that hosts your offices. While most businesses are highly knowledgeable of U.S. law, many neglect to show the same level of diligence to local regulations.

 

Spend time learning your rights as a business in foreign countries and how those rights apply to government inspections and investigations. Some nations even maintain foreign investment councils that can serve as an invaluable source of advice and support.

Spend time on the ground

Paul Mandell, the founder and CEO of Consero Group, advises performing your due diligence in person. By actually visiting the sites of your foreign operations, you can help accelerate initial vetting processes or anti-corruption investigations.

 

Take advantage of these trips to conduct in-person interviews with candidates for key positions. By spending more time and money to find highly-skilled and ethical employees, you can better protect your business.

 

This hands-on approach also offers the opportunity to interview local third-party suppliers directly. While these organizations may be familiar with regional regulations, they may not be familiar with U.S. or international laws and unknowingly violate policies while simply conducting business as usual.” –Authored by Workplace Answers

 

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As a business owner I can tell you that starting and growing a business is exciting, yet challenging; unfortunately, one of those challenges I’ve had to endure in the past is making sure I got paid and did not get ripped-off!  Going into business for yourself is one of the most risky, character-testing, yet rewarding journeys that one can take. It usually does not take a full year before one realizes that, though you may be smart, it takes strength and courage to keep committing to your business everyday and to not get discouraged by people who make it more challenging for you by not wanting to pay you. Don’t let anyone rob you of your dreams!

 

I am quite empathetic, and I am someone who is sensitive to others’ pain. But my work and life experiences have taken me through enough where I am not affected while doing my job. If you are anything like me, you like to help people. However, while you are busy caring and they are busy not paying you, what does that do for your business? It puts you in the hole and they get services for free. If you’re like me, you can’t fathom how anyone could do this. You can’t fathom how you could be taken advantage of. You can’t come to grips with how you were on their side trying to help them and they treated you like the dirt you walk on.

 

No one wants to admit that something like this has happened to them, but I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately it happens to business owners more than it should. But what can we learn from it?

This is what business owners need to do to protect themselves:

Always Have a Contract and Enforce It

It must be signed by both parties, it must spell out how much will be paid and when, it must explain what the consequence is for non payment. You must adhere to your policies and enforce them.

 

Offering Payment Plans are Okay, But Under a Contract

Sometimes you want to help people who don’t have all the money up front. That can be okay with honest people. But as mentioned above, all terms must be spelled out, and your contract needs to be signed by both parties.

 

The Contract Must be Terminated if a Client or Customer Does Not Pay

Have policies, and put them in your contract, that you will stop services or not provide goods if the client or customer does not pay. They should not get a free ride from you. Where will you be if this keeps happening to you? With no business and no money. You have to earn a living.

 

Take Non-Payers to Collections

There are collection agencies that will go after unpaid debts for you; get to know one that will fight for you. So, you can save the headache of having to chase people down and make repeated phone calls while trying to earn a living.

 

Sue If You Have to

Don’t let people use and financially abuse you. If a client or customer failed to adhere to the terms of the contract that they signed that gives you a legal cause of action to get your money back. So, use the legal system if you have to.

 

 

Of course, the reality is that, as a business owner, you want to succeed! As many pieces that you have to juggle, you want as few worries as possible. Put the practices above into place; you will be a business owner who takes control; manages risk; and who gains more than you lose!

 

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