Letter to Councilor Jake Barrett

Soundgarden

June 6, 2013

Hon. Jake Barrett

Syracuse Common Councilor

City Hall

300 E. Washington Street

Syracuse, NY 13202

Re: Sound Garden

 Dear Councilor Barrett:

I am a lawyer and small business owner. I have recently relocated my legal practice from the Northside of Syracuse back downtown to enjoy the vibrancy and energy that downtown offers as well as the proximity to the Courthouse and other offices I need.

One of the things that excited me most about being back downtown is the proximity I would be to Sound Garden. Sound Garden has and remains to be one of my favorite downtown shopping venues. Unfortunately your actions, and yours alone seem to be placing a death knell on Sound Garden’s door.

Sound Garden’s first store, on Walton Street over the Empire Brewing Company was a wonderfully eclectic mix of record store and gathering place. Often times, I would spend my lunch hour browsing the collection of CD’s available for purchase both new and used. Ultimately the management installed listening stations (one of the first local stores to do so) in order to allow the listener to gain an appreciation of what it was they were about to purchase.  At no time then, or now was there any acknowledged or known illegal activity taking place there.

Subsequently, Sound Garden moved to its present location. Not only did it have the opportunity to expand its selection of music, movies and novelties, the company took advantage of its new location to provide a service to the community. Sound Garden held movies and concerts for the benefit of the community, at no cost and they were fun and well attended.

Now, they are leaving. They have become overburdened by the necessities of legislation drafted by you. They have become unable to work with a Council where the Councilor responsible for working with Sound Garden is taking every opportunity to work against this store. You should be ashamed.

At a time when our national and local economy is reinventing itself, we need more Sound Gardens.

It is my hope that you take every step to redress this wrong. It is my hope that you will reach and find a way to make this treasured landmark a continued part of Armory Square. However, it is my expectation that you will do neither; instead you will continue to be dogmatic in your approach. Instead of finding ways to encourage small business growth you will continue to work against it, that is my expectation from you.

Therefore, the only way to counteract this to effectuate the change in leadership that is necessary to move Syracuse forward. Good luck with your reelection campaign, I’ll be supporting your opponent.

Very truly yours,

Todd S. Engel

Sponsorships

In addition to my board involvement. I have been proud to be a sponsor at various community events this past year. Sponsorship is an important way to develop and strengthen community awareness of your product, service or practice.

I was a proud sponsor of the New York State Blues Fest this summer. It was wonderful to see our community gather for such fantastic music. I am looking forward to returning next year as a sponsor.

Engel Law Offices is a proud member of Syracuse First. Syracuse First is a community organization started three years ago  to think about developing a locally first attitude regarding business decisions within the Syracuse area. In that time it has grown to over 300 members and is an exciting grass roots organization in our community.

We have also sponsored the  Jewish Music and Cultural Festival held in September at the Jewish Community Center in Syracuse. This festival highlights Jewish Culture and music of all kinds.

Giving back to the community is key to growing and developing a vital Syracuse.

 

Todd

Estate Planning Seminar for LGBT and Same Sex Couples

Engel Law Offices is excited to announce that we are presenting at a seminar regarding estate planning and legal issues for the LGBT community.

The first session is February 28, 2011 at Wise Guys Comedy Club in Syracuse NY. The session begins with a networking session at 6:00 and presentation at 6:30. We will be discussing health care proxies, living wills and powers of attorney.

Hope to see you there.

Legal Planning in a Different Economy

When I look around my community, I see a totally new and evolving economic paradigm. Sure there are layoffs everywhere. Circuit City closes and there are 30,000 fewer jobs. Magna may close their local plant eliminating what at its height was 8,000 jobs in the automobile industry. Five years ago, who would have ever thought that Lehman Brothers would no longer be in existence? If you ask me, it is a time for opportunity to grow and develop a business.

Globally the economy is shrinking. This is no surprise from picking up the newspapers. However, that offers an opportunity for an enterprising person to open and develop a new business. In my view, the old economy of manufacturing and big business is no longer viable in today’s marketplace. The manufacturing is being accomplished in other countries where the costs of doing business are less. These only makes sense in a capitalistic society, if I can make it cheaper and sell it on the marketplace, then why do I need to pay the overhead, taxes and other costs of manufacturing in this country. So, how are we going to survive and what can a lawyer do to help?

The best way to reinvigorate the economy in times such as the now is to invest in ourselves and be creative. For some, that means thinking outside the box of what they know to look for employment in new areas. For others, it is to examine what their strengths are and to start their own business. My thinking is the small to medium sized businesses are going to drive this economy forward because those are the businesses that are going to roll up their sleeves and move us forward through creative work. What industry that is in is to be determined. However this is an exciting time to be involved in legal representation of small closely held businesses.

How does a lawyer help you? A good business lawyer can help in each facet of business planning. Whether it is setting up a good quality business plan., determining the right entity to begin this venture with, whether it is a solo proprietorship, general partnership, limited liability partnership, or corporation, a lawyer can guide you through the process and help fill out the appropriate documentation. A lawyer will work with you to project financing needs and developing strategies for obtaining startup capital. A lawyer can advise as to the tax implications of owning versus renting your business location and other depreciation techniques. Use a lawyer at the beginning who you trust, and it can be mean money saved down the line.

Todd Engel

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Law Office Technology Part 2

My last blog post dealt with some basic technology in order for a practice to hit the ground running. We will now discuss certain additional applications to make running an office more seamless as well as effective.

As I said previously, Microsoft Outlook is the email calendar and task tool that has the market dominance. This is because it is bundled with Microsoft Office. I use it to keep my contacts as well as my calendar and my emails. While stability can be an issue, it is the industry standard. Google has an online calendar system that is pretty good, however being that it is unsecure, I would not recommend it for law office calendar management due to confidentiality issues.

Clients today expect and deserve feedback as quickly as possible. That is one of the many reasons smartphones have become ubiquitous with attorneys. What an individual looks for in a smartphone is an ability to synch with your email, contacts and calendars. There are many flavors, whether it is the Iphone, the Blackberry or the Palm or variations on their theme. The key to me is to be able to have the information not only at my desk but also at my fingertips when I am out of the office.

Document assembly software is important in making sure you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. When your practice has developed a niche, use the appropriate software to generate repeat documents. Hotdocs is a great example of this. I also use Drafting Libraries for various documents. The quality of the document produced is quite good and there is certain customization and flexibility which is important.

Every lawyer wants to be paid for what they do. Therefore invest in a good time and billing package that can be utilized both by you and your assistant. Ideally it should feed into your phone/PDA so that you can quickly capture time outside the office. You should be able to enter fees quickly and easily. You should be able to set whether you are billing on an hourly basis, flat fee basis or contingency fee. You should ideally be able to combine this with a practice management suite which sets forth a conflict search. Try demos of these products, there are many and again, different people like different programs.

Technology is constantly changing and evolving and lawyers have to stay current to best serve our clients. Join the technology group of your local bar. Join the ABA Law Technology section. Read and learn what you can but remember don’t use something without trying it first.

Todd Engel

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WHY LAW AND WHY SPECIALIZE?

More often than not, people I meet invariably ask me what I do for a living. It is common place to ask that question, because it allows you to learn more about the person you are interacting with. I always answer that I am a lawyer. Never do I say that I am a certain type of lawyer. I let that conversation develop over time.

I then am asked why you became a lawyer. The short quip is that I am genetically predisposed, after being the third generation in my family to practice law. That is a flippant response that really does not touch on the real reason I became a lawyer. I have a desire to help people and the law offers me that opportunity to help my clients achieve their goals and desires.

So, then the question as to what type of law I practice comes up. For the first ten years of my practice, I said I was a general practitioner. I wanted to be that lawyer everyone went to for issues from cradle to grave. I did divorces, I did DWI’s. I did trusts, estates and probate. I even dabbled in Worker’s Compensation. I was everywhere and spread very thin in what expertise in any subject I could provide. I had a choice to make, I could specialize and find my niche or continue to spread myself across all aspects of the law and not truly have a focus for myself or my clients.

I changed that starting this year. I am now focused on wealth development and preservation. Sounds great Todd, but what does that mean? It means that I am focused on establishing and representing small and closely held businesses from their inception through successful operation. It means that I represent individuals in making sure that their assets are protected for the future. It means that I will make sure that the estate planning necessary for individuals meet their needs and the needs of their family. It means that I will make sure that assets survive for children and future generations. I also will work to determine the best ways to make sure any charitable gifts are done in the best manner.

Todd Engel

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Some more about me and my practice

Welcome to my blog! I want to thank you for taking the time to learn about me and the services that Engel Law Offices can provide you in developing and protecting your wealth. It is important for you to know how I got to where I am in order for me to be able to guide and assist you in developing and protecting your assets for future generations.

I am a third generation lawyer practicing in Fayetteville, NY, just outside of Syracuse. I have a solo practice focused on business development, estate planning, commercial litigation and equine law. In other words my practice is geared to wealth development and protection for yourself and future generations. I have developed this niche with one focus in mind: listening and responding to your needs.

A graduate of Syracuse University and Syracuse University College of Law, I have developed a practice that is singularly focused on meeting your needs from beginning to end. You will work with me directly and my focus is solely on making sure your goals are met, whether that is with your business or your estate. I want to make sure that you maximize your ability to grow your small business and make sure that once you have, the proper estate plan is in place. Engel Law Offices is committed to wealth development and protection. I look forward to working with you.

My grandfather, S. Sanford Engel, practiced law in Syracuse starting in 1931. He had a general practice, focusing on criminal defense until his death in 1966. He was well regarded throughout the Central New York community for his legal ability. Developing the ability to listen to his clients was a cornerstone to his practice, something that was passed down to my father, and then to me.

My father, Richard Engel, began his practice in 1961 with the Appellate Division, Fourth Department where he was a confidential law clerk. In 1966, he returned to Syracuse and practiced for the next 42 years. He specialized in civil and commercial litigation turning towards estate planning, corporate representation and equine law in order to meet the needs of his growing clientele. He taught me the values of developing a strong client relationship and being an effective representative for your clients needs and desires. Since 1977, he owned thoroughbred race horses, developing a national reputation as an equine advocate.

Today, I am the managing attorney of Engel Law Offices. Our practice is committed to working with you and your company in developing plans for maximizing and preserving your wealth. That goal is achieved through planning for your new business venture and ensuring that whatever business you are starting is legally secure and the best business plan is drafted for you. We will be there for your needs and should litigation be necessary, Engel Law Offices has successfully tried cases to verdict throughout New York State and will work hard on your behalf.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you in this blog. Each week I will write on a different topic, whether it is business development, corporate, estate planning or equine law, I hope you will find it interesting and informative.