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

Techonology and my law practice

Becky Guiles of Boundless Media recently asked me to post a guest blog about my usage of technology in my law practice. If you would like to read that click here  

I have always been a tech geek. I think that technology has only increased the ability to practice law. I know it has made me more accessible to my clients, which is good. It has broadened my reach so that I am able to represent clients throughout New York State far easier than I could before.

Skype has been a blessing for this type of representation for it allows face to face conversations with clients no matter where they are.

In my view technology in my practice is definitely a blessing.

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

My Birthday Challenge: Can you help me reach my goal?

On March 28, 2012 I’ll celebrate my birthday.

OMG!

It’s a long standing tradition in my family for the person celebrating a birthday to give something away. We receive gifts, but we always give something as well.

This year , I want to give back to both of the communities I practice in. Syracuse and Saratoga both mean a great deal to me. The people have supported me and my law practice.  For that I am very grateful and believe it is time to give back.

Two organizations near and dear to my heart are the McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center, which is a non-profit organization in Syracuse dedicated to ending child abuse through intervention and education and Camp TLC, an on the move camping program based downstate that delivers a week of camp to children living in hospitals, group homes, and shelters across the country at no charge.

One of Camp TLC’s programs is a week long camp during the Saratoga thoroughbred race meet for kids of the backstretch employees, grooms, hotwalkers and other stable help who otherwise would not have the ability to send kids to camp for the summer.

Here is my challenge to you:

As I write this, my Facebook page sits at 391 likes. If I can reach 1000 likes by midnight on my birthday – 30 days from now – I will donate $1000, $500 to each organization.

Will you help? Please share this post.

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.

Special Olympic Winter Games

I am proud to be a member of the Special Olympics of New York Games Organizing Committee for the Winter Games being held in Syracuse on February 5th and 6th. Being a part of this team has been an exciting and educational experience and one that I will cherish.

Special Olympics is an important organization that allows athletes with special needs to participate in sporting events across the spectrum and compete against other individuals with disabilities. The Winter Games will be comprised of six events in five locations throughout Onondaga County. I’ll tell you more about them as we go on.

The Games will start with Opening Ceremonies Friday night at 7:00 at the Oncenter. Each athlete participating will march in just like the Olympic Games. They will be welcomed by local law enforcement officers and community dignitaries as they enter the arena. There will even be a Torch Run and the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Following the Opening Ceremony the Games will start with the Floor Hockey Pairing games. Each team will play to determine their seeding for Saturday morning’s games which will take place at the Oncenter. These games will start at 8:30 at the Oncenter and will be single elimination games throughout the day.

Saturday is the day when the events really start kicking into high gear. The events will at 8:30 in the morning. Figure Skating will be at the Onondaga County War Memorial followed by speed skating. Floor Hockey and the Olympic Village will be at the Oncenter. Snowshoeing will be at Thorden Park. Alpine skiing will be at Toggenburg Ski Center. Nordic Skiing will be at Highland Forest.

Each of the events are free to attend. They will be finished by 2:30 so come out and enjoy the day watching these athletes compete. I hope to see you there!

Todd Engel
[email protected]

New No Fault Divorce Bill becomes effective in New York

On August 16 Governor David Patterson signed into law three bills that will change the landscape of matrimonial law in New York State. The reason it is important now is that they become effective on October 16th so planning needs to be taken now.

The first bill provided that there is an additional cause of action in New York providing for No Fault Divorce. The second bill will allow the Court additional opportunities to examine maintenance issues. The final bill provides for interim attorneys fees so that the monied spouse is responsible for interim fees during the course of matrimonial litigation and that the nonmonied spouse is not at a disadvantage due to their lack of financial ability to afford what can be mounting and daunting legal fees.

The bill getting the most attention is the addition o a no fault cause of action. This brings New York in line with the other 49 states n the country allowing for a divorce to end for no certifiable reason. The benefit to this cause of action is that when parties are just no longer compatible they can get a divorce without creating additional pain that existed under the previous causes of action. It means that people don’t have to create language that fits within cruel and inhuman treatment.  Ultimately it will allow for people to eliminate some of the acrimony generally viewed in a fight over cause.

The second bill passed deals with the examination of maintenance or spousal support both on a temporary and permanent basis. This will allow the courts to examine specific factors in setting temporary maintenance.  Maintenance is important and sometimes vital to to keep the non-monied spouse  in the same lifestyle and have the same financial stability that was available prior to the break up of the marriage.

The third bill provides for interim counsel fees when there is a financial disparity between the parties. One of the fundamental aspects  of litigation is that attorneys need to be paid! The financial ability for one side to pay or not pay should not be a detriment to the ability to be represented in a divorce. This will allow for both parties to get proper and adequate representation during a matrimonial action. This will equal the playing field so that the party with money doesn’t bury the one without in legal fees.

Todd Engel

New York No Fault Divorce

It appears that the New York Legislature in its final days may have acted positively towards one subject: divorce.

It appears that the New York Legislature in its final days may have acted positively towards one subject: divorce. New York was the last state that required fault in order to grant a divorce. This meant that a divorce could only be granted if one of four grounds were met: cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, adultery or constructive abandonment. The parties had to admit to grounds and often times led to the parties making statements that might not have been entirely accurate in order to obtain the resolution desired. Now under the new law parties seeking a divorce would have to state that for the preceding six months the marriage was not able to reconcile. This makes fault and acrimony between the parties less of an issue. Despite this the issues of custody, maintenance, child support and equitable distribution will continue to need to be resolved. The hope is that this will allow for an easier process for those parties seeking a divorce. Now the Governor needs to sign this legislation that has passed both houses. Todd Engel [email protected] www.engelatty.com”>
New York was the last state that required fault in order to grant a divorce. This meant that a divorce could only be granted if one of four grounds were met: cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, adultery or constructive abandonment. The parties had to admit to grounds and often times led to the parties making statements that might not have been entirely accurate in order to obtain the resolution desired.

Now under the new law parties seeking a divorce would have to state that for the preceding six months the marriage was not able to reconcile. This makes fault and acrimony between the parties less of an issue.

Despite this the issues of custody, maintenance, child support and equitable distribution will continue to need to be resolved.

The hope is that this will allow for an easier process for those parties seeking a divorce. Now the Governor needs to sign this legislation that has passed both houses.

Todd Engel
[email protected]
www.engelatty.com

What to look for when hiring an attorney

When looking to hire a new attorney there are five things you should always consider.

1. Comfort Level

When you initially reach out to the new attorney, are you comfortable with the manner he or she contacts you? Do you actually have the ability to speak with the attorney who will be handling your matter when you call? Are your initial questions answered? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may want to consider looking at additional attorneys. At Engel Law Offices, you will speak to the attorney representing you immediately, there will be no middle man for intake purposes. You will have access via email to that attorney. At Engel Law Offices, communication is the cornerstone to a good attorney client relationship.

2. Size of Office

Can the attorney service your needs fairly? Law firms run the gamut from solo practitioners to firms with hundreds of attorneys. A solo practitioner like myself can represent people with all types of legal needs. Smaller offices can and do provide individualized attention to your needs.  Larger offices may fit your need and if that is so, then utilize their services, but please remember that you are hiring the lawyer and need to be able to have a working relationship with him or her. At Engel Law Offices, effective and quick response times are instrumental to our communication with the client. It is important that you feel that your case is important and that the office is available and accessible to you, the client.

3. What are you looking for?

A lawyer in a general practice can and oftentimes does represent an individual in all aspects of their legal needs. Whether it is buying a new home, selling a business, divorce, or estate planning, a general practitioner can handle those needs for you. Attorneys who specialize are great and having a referral network for a general practitioner to utilize makes sense for those situations when the client needs specialization.  A firm should be small enough to know who you are yet diverse to handle your needs. At Engel Law Offices, we strive to build relationships with our clients so that you will feel like you have a life long lawyer.

4. Does the attorney represent individuals with needs like yours?

When you call for an initial intake, do not hesitate to inquire about the lawyer who will be representing you. All lawyers should be candid with their experience level and comfort level with the fact scenario you place before them. At Engel Law Offices if you call with a matter that is not part of our practice areas, we seek to find you a suitable attorney given your situation.

5. Flat fee/ hourly rate

Economics is an important consideration in any relationship. Presently there is a trend for attorneys to move to a flat fee billing system. What this means is instead of charging an hourly rate for certain services, there is a set fee for the legal work determined at the beginning of the working relationship. If that relationship expands, the attorney may revisit the fee, however when a firm does a flat fee billing system, it is rare for that to happen. This benefits the client because their budget is fixed for purposes of legal fees for a certain matter. At Engel Law Offices, we assess your case and if flat fee billing is appropriate, we utilize that method.

A significant portion of our matters can be handled in this way, including certain aspects of commercial litigation, estate planning, estate administration, business matters, real estate matters, and equine matters can all be billed in a flat fee manner. Personal injury litigation is still based on a contingency fee and those fees can be discusses when you call Engel Law Offices.

Should you be searching for an attorney, please consider Engel Law Offices. We are lengths ahead of the field.

Todd Engel

Engel Law Offices

214 N. State Street                                                               1104 Middleline Road

Syracuse, NY 13203                                                           Ballston Spa, NY 12020

315-295-1450                                                                       518-490-1770

[email protected]

www.engelatty.com

www.twitter.com/toddengel

Why I love being a general practitioner

I love being a general practioner!

I represent corporations and individuals in such a wide and varied area of the law. I handle matters involving business planning and ultimate representation, estate planning, civil litigation, personal injury litigation, real estate, and equine law.  I have and do represent people criminally, as well as in Family Court.

Each day and case offers me a new opportunity to expand my knowledge in the law. But more importantly, it allows me to guide and assist my client in a way that is best for them. While each practice area may be different in scope and focus, the goal at the end of the day is always the same; get the best result for the client.

While each practice area has definite differences, they all excite me and keep me interested and involved. I love that one morning I can be working on a complaint in a personal injury matter and that afternoon I can be working with a family to figure out how best to plan their estate.

The saying goes variety is the spice of life. With my practice, my life is therefore definitely spicy! Which is how I like it.

Todd Engel

Engel Law Offices

[email protected]