law practice website

mainscreens

This is the blog of Christian Weisenburger.  Click here to visit the law practice website of Beyond the Box Law.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THAT BLOG IS NO LONGER MAINTAINED AND THE LAST POST WAS MADE IN 2010.

employee stock option plan taxation

If you want to issue shares of your existing business to an employee, it may make sense to do it through an employee stock option plan as, generally, employees will pay less tax on the benefit that they would otherwise have to claim.  The figure below sums up the tax that an employee will have to pay under the Income Tax Act (Canada) when he or she disposes of the shares issued to him or her under the plan:

(c) Christian Weisenburger Law, Inc.

the life I want

I have been meaning to update this blog for months to share how the lifestyle and practice that I wanted has become a reality.  Worlds have opened up to me, and many of the people in them have become clients and friends.  Their projects are exciting.  Their projects are my projects.  When not utilizing my beloved Hub, my office is often the park.  My office furniture is a lawn-chair that fits in my briefcase.  My systems are automated, largely using code that I have developed myself (and may commercialize).  I have entered into an arrangement to collaborate with CEDIF Management Ltd. which I hope will allow further businesses to access local financing.  I am on (or slated to be on) 5 boards.  I am constantly teaching and learning.  I have the practice and life I want.  I feel very fortunate.

a different shade of red

I am in Copenhagen, Denmark for the UN Conference of the Parties (COP 15).  It is a smorgasbord (which I understand is Danish) of people, ideas, opportunities and disappointments.  The one invariable thing experienced by me here has been something largely unreported in the Canadian media and something that I wish all Canadians could feel in person:

the current pullback when you tell someone you are from Canada.

Continue reading

should I incorporate?

I will be making a presentation today on the above topic at the hub at an event called DEMOhub.  My presentation can be downloaded at the following link.

a different approach

6 comments regarding my practice and the practice of law:

Office.  To many of my friends the traditional physical indicators of competence and professionalism imply rigidity and cost and, ironically, are intimidating rather than comforting.  They identify with website creativity and greenness rather than oak.

Formality.  Recognizing which clients feel greater trust and comfort when interacting with a lawyer wearing a suit is no less important than recognizing which ones do not and instead see a suit as a business condom and a tattoo of dissimilarity.  Finding the right balance of formality is important.

Spices.  My veranda, the public gardens, the law library, the Hub (in Halifax and England), my parent’s home (in Alberta), and clients’ homes and businesses are all great places to work on a purchase and sale agreement.

iStock_000004696218XSmallTime.  Nobody likes keeping track of or paying for legal services in 6 minute increments.

Full circle.  The single practitioner practice of 100 years ago gave way to the large law firm, allowing for cost sharing and specialization (making it difficult for the single practitioner to compete given that lawyers in larger firms can become very knowledgeable in narrow areas of law and lower their costs, if they choose to do so).  Technology now allows for a small practice to be competitive again:

  • access to online databases are sold to lawyers on a per user basis (rather than on a per firm basis, which was the case for paper version legal texts);
  • document automation and software allows a lawyer to be efficient even without an assistant;
  • emails do not need to be stamped and taken to the post office; and
  • communication need not be in person, allowing for virtual lego offices.

Lego Specialization.    The human lego pieces (e.g. programmers, artists, consultants, engineers) that reside at the Hub Halifax can be assembled (or, more correctly, assemble themselves as a result of eureka moments over tea) in incredibly efficient business structures for a particular project, with each piece taking on their own business and financial risk.  Adam Smith would smile at the invisible hands at play.

"Lego"The same model will work for law firms with each lawyer working as an independent contractor, loosely tied by the desire to be tied (for a particular project but not necessarily for all projects).  Clusters of lawyers will form.  The same lawyer may cluster together with lawyers of the same practice area but different years of experience (e.g. to work on a prospectus) and also cluster together with lawyers of different practice areas (e.g. for referrals).  The “firm” will be a multi-dimensional dynamic concept, rather than a static list of employees.  Think of the possibilities for stay at home mommies and daddies and people that may have left the profession not because of the work but because of the work structure.

However, the virtual lego firm will of course not be for everyone.  The need for food to be on the table tends to get in the way of taking on financial and business risk.  Conflict check issues may sometimes increase rather than decrease complexity and administration.  Further, the flexibility of the structure is dependent on each piece having, or hiring, its own organs (e.g. marketing, accounting, administration).  A virtual lego firm will not be for those who want the digestion done for them and at the end of the day the structure may trade one set of inefficiencies for another.

It works for me though.  To some extent I am now part of such a virtual “firm”, a firm which includes advisors, consultants, and other lego pieces.  My organs are under my control.  My life is under my control and I am loving it.

caledonia: we are america

Steve Reble was my gateway drug into Halifax music and the community that makes it.  A tall, gangly, smiley white guy with a degree in philosophy, I remember wondering when I first met him (when we started our MBAs) whether we might occupy too much of the same personality space for us to become really good friends.   Continue reading

picture law

I think visually.  I think in charts and diagrams, in which my thoughts are connected by shapes, arrows, colours and spatial structure.  I want my branding and my website (i.e. being the focal point of my professionalism) to reflect that.  I want it to convey playfulness, openness, and simplified-complexity.  

I am proud that I was able to design and program my website myself.  I wanted a simple website and got one (partially because simple is all I can do *smile*).  I like the fact that the entire site is almost box free (except for the pictures).  I like that the pictures are almost all local.  I like that it has an art gallery feel (at least to me).  I like that it feels like it is my voice.

The focus now is on advertisements (and yes, making pretty pictures).   The ad below (which I did this weekend) will hopefully appear in the Coast in the next couple weeks.    

Ad---Coast

software for the Canadian apple/mac lawyer

Weeks went into choosing between available programs for my apple macbook to carry on my law practice (in Canada).  I have been asked by a number of lawyers for a list, so thought that I would share it here:

1.  Daylite: for organizing files (and clients).  It integrates with Mail for mac, so that whenever an email comes in from a client, the email is automatically saved to the client’s file.  Very highly recommended.

2.  Billings: integrates with Daylite to allow for easy invoicing. Continue reading

picturing a tax deferred wind-up

Most of April was invested into a presentation on tax-deferred corporate wind-ups that I made before a Canadian Bar Association conference at the Casino last week.  I was honoured to be asked to speak (especially alongside presenters that I have a great deal of respect for) as it was the perfect way for me to introduce my law practice to the bar.  

Here is one of the diagrams from my presentation (showing the tax treatment to a company winding-up and its shareholders under s.88(1) of the Income Tax Act):       

Scenario 3t