Monday, February 19, 2007

7 Steps To Finding The Perfect Lawyer

7 Steps To Finding The Perfect Lawyer
by: Michael Lewis

It is your life we are talking about. Make sure that you take every necessary step to find the right lawyer for your needs. It is very hard to do this, though, with all the ads flying at you, the people soliciting you, and all the negative things that you hear about lawyers these days. But, the fact of the matter is that you can find the right lawyer and not all of them are that bad. Believe it or not, some actually get into this career not to make millions or to beat the drug companies. Some actually really want to help you. Here are some of the things to look for in your lawyer. Take these steps to find the perfect lawyer for the job.

· Find a lawyer that specializes in your field. This is important because you will want someone not only that knows how to handle a case like yours, but also one that will be up to date on the latest rulings and the latest procedures for your case. This simple thing can really make a large difference. Many lawyers have one or two specialties and then do other things as well. If you find one that specializes in your needs, say traffic violations or divorce, you are likely to be able to count on them to know more about how to handle your case than someone who specializes in business proposals.

· To find a lawyer that you can trust, look towards your local Bar Association for recommendations on someone. Not everyone has a lawyer on retainer so it helps to know that someone out there is recommending the one that you are choosing. If you feel that you can, ask friends and family about their recommendations as well.

· Once you find a few names to consider, make sure that you know about them. You can check on their relevant experience and their record for cases like yours. While this will not tell you just whether your lawyer will win your case or not, it is safe to say that it will give you some idea of his or her skills nonetheless.

· Consider how well the lawyer will be dedicated to your case. You can judge this by what he or she tells you and by how well they work with you. Will they meet the deadlines? Do they return your calls? Can you trust them to be on time for appointments? Ask them how much time they will devote to your case and how many other cases they are handling at the time. You need to know their dedication to your personal needs.

· Perform an interview with the lawyer. Ask them the questions that we talked about. But, if at all possible make it an in person interview. This will help you to feel out the lawyer. Ask them about how they will handle your case and what they can do for you to make sure that you win your battle. An experienced lawyer should be able to tell you step by step what will happen, when it will happen and why it happens.

· Let's face it. We can not all have the best lawyers out there. It is important to compare retainer fees. While you may be under the impression that you need the best lawyer out there, you simply may not be able to afford him or her. Instead of worrying about this though, consider instead what the lawyer's record is and how well he can do his job for the amount of money he will charge you.

· Lastly, it is important to choose a lawyer that you trust. While this can be something that many people don't understand, if you do not feel comfortable with a lawyer, you shouldn't work with them. It makes sense that you should be able to talk to them easily and tell them the who's, the what's, and the why's of your case. You should be able to provide him with what he needs to know. Trusting your lawyer will also help you to relax and to relieve some of your own stress.

The perfect lawyer? Is there really one of those out there? There is that one lawyer that you will be proud to call your own. When you take the time to make sure that the lawyer that you have chosen is a good one, you can be sure that your case, your life is safe and secure in their capable hands.

About The Author
Michael Lewis is an editor at Lawyer Map where you can find more articles about finding a good attorney.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whiplash Compensation Claims

Whiplash Compensation Claims
by: Carolyn Clayton

Most whiplash injuries occur when you are in your car and another car smacks into the backend of your car. The impact of the collision pushes your car forward and your whole body is thrown forward and then backwards. People who experience whiplash may develop one or more of the following symptoms, usually within the first two days after the accident, neck pain and stiffness, headaches, pain in the shoulder or between the shoulder blades, low back pain, pain or numbness in the arm and/or hand dizziness ringing in the ears or blurred vision, difficulty concentrating or remembering, irritability, sleep disturbances, fatigue.

The extent and type of injuries varies from person to person. Most injuries are to soft tissues such as the disks, muscles and ligaments, and cannot be seen on standard X-rays. Your doctor may need to request specialized tests. Most people recover quickly although a small number develop chronic conditions that result in severe pain and sometimes disability.

To treat whiplash the best way is to encourage movement from early on, rather than immobilization. You can have a soft collar that can be used in the short term. It is recommended to add ice in the first 24 hours, followed by gentle active movement. Your doctor may provide you with a series of exercises that you can do at home. An early return to work is encouraged, even if your doctor must prescribe some temporary modifications in your work situation.

For pain relief you can get medication from your doctor, but exercises, physical therapy, traction, massage, heat, ice, injections and ultrasound are all proven to be beneficial. Most symptoms should resolve themselves within several months for most people who have whiplash but chronic conditions should be investigated further and might require surgery.

Claiming compensation for whiplash is your civil right. If someone collides with your car and you suffer whiplash as a result then you are entitled to receive compensation. Most personal injury solicitor will have dealt with a whiplash claim so would be able to advice you. You may have taken some time off work or in severe cases have to deal with an immobilising disability. And if the accident was not your fault then you would be daft not to take legal action. There are now “no win no fee” agreements where solicitors take on a case for nothing and only get paid at the end if the case is successful. You need to find a good solicitor that explains everything clearly. Some companies have hidden costs that you need to be aware off. Finding a company that offers straightforward advice for no charge is the best place to start.

About The Author
Carolyn Clayton is the webmaster of Whiplash UK a popular Whiplash whiplash article site. Please feel free to republish this article providing this resource box remains intact with a working hyperlink to our site.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How to Start a Business in Panama

How to Start a Business in Panama
by: Steven Rich, MBA

Hundreds of foreigners residing here are starting up new businesses in Panama every year.

Panama offers many opportunities for business entrepreneurs. You can start a bar, restaurant, retail shop, hotel, bed & breakfast, provide tour-guides or professional services.

Maybe you are thinking about opening a new business full time? Or, you are retired and thinking of passing the time by engaging in a part-time business.

Whichever you do, Panamanian laws must be understood and complied with. That's why the following information will be useful for every reader who is thinking about starting a business in Panama.


Your first consideration is to decide what type of business structure to use.

There are 3 normal business entities here in Panama:

Sole Proprietor where you and your spouse & family operate a business as sole owners.

Partnership where you team up with one or more persons in running the business.

Corporation where you register with the government as a company issuing stocks, having a Board of Directors and corporate officers.

While a sole proprietorship can be an oral agreement between close family members, the other two entities need the assistance of a Panamanian lawyer. That's because legal documents need to be prepared forming a Partnership or Corporation. If they are wrongly prepared, they will be legally null and void causing a business legal nightmare for its members.

Let's examine the different legal structures here in Panama:

Corporation (Sociedad Anonima)

Corporations are formed under the Law No. 32 of 1927 and the Commercial Code (Decree-Law No. 5 of 1997, Article 5).

A Panamanian corporation is formed by two persons (called Subscribers) or Nominees (who act on behalf of absent foreigners) who execute legal documents called the Articles of Incorporation. Those documents are filed with the Panama Public Registry office. After the corporation is formed, only one shareholder will be required.

Corporate shares are issued which can be of various classes, can have par value or not, may be officially registered, or can be discreet Bearer shares.

The corporation must have a resident Registered Agent (Panamanian lawyer).

There must be at least three Directors whose names must be in the Articles of Incorporation. Any changes of Directors must also be filed with the Public Registry. Unless the Articles are changed or the corporation merges or dissolves there will be no other filing requirements.

Foreign Corporation

If you already have a corporation in another country, it can do business in Panama by filing the following documents at the Public Registry Office:

1. A notarized Spanish translation of the Articles of Incorporation;

2. Board of Directors minutes authorizing the Panamanian registration;

3. Copies of the most recent financial statements;

4. A certificate from a Panamanian Consul confirming that the company is organized according to the laws of its place of incorporation;

5. Notification of the transfer of capital to the Panamanian operation.

General Partnership

General Partnerships are permitted in Panama. As with most countries, the partners will have unlimited civil liability. That means every partner can be sued even if only one of them commits an error in the course of business.

Limited Partnership

Limited Partnerships (called Sociedad de Responsibilidad) are also permitted in Panama. They are governed by the Commercial Code and Law No. 24 of 1966.

There may be from 2 to 20 partners with no restrictions as to their nationalities or domicile. Their Capital must be at least $2,000 up to $500,000. The names of the partners must be registered with the Public Registry Office including the amount of Capital each contributed. Each partner's civil liability for the Partnership's debts is limited to the amount subscribed to but unpaid. If the Partnership appoints an independent administrator, his/her name must also be registered. No meetings are required if the Partnership has 5 members or less. Otherwise, a meeting must be held at least once a year. There are no requirements for annual returns or filing of any accountings.

An alternative to a Sole Proprietorship is to create an Individual Limited Proprietorship (Empressa Individual de Responsibilidad Limitada). This is set up in the same manner as a Limited Partnership except having only one member. The individual transfers his/her assets to the business. Business civil liability is limited to the amount of the committed assets.

Civil Partnership

A Civil Partnership (Sociedad Civil) is allowed by the Commercial Code and Law No. 24 of 1966. The liability of the partners is unlimited. This type of partnership is often selected by professionals such as lawyers and accountants.

Commandite Company

The Commandite Company (Sociedad en Commandita) is a hybrid partnership and corporation also governed by the Commercial Code and Law No. 24 of 1966. At least one partner must have unlimited liability, while the liability of the limited partners is limited to the amount of capital subscribed. This type of legal structure is seldom used in Panama.


Once you have either formed a Panamanian Corporation, or a Partnership, or are acting as a Sole Proprietor, you will need to register your business with the government before opening for business.

The 6 steps provided below are the requirements for registering your business with the national and local governments:

1. Income Tax Registry

This is called "Registro Fiscal" with the Panamanian government.

The Panamanian government has a website explaining what is necessary to register in Spanish. Go to the govt. website at:

This is the government Revenue (Tax) Service where your company receives its income tax id number called the Direccion General de Ingresos.

You will need to keep records of income and expenses and file an annual income tax (or corporate tax) return and pay any taxes owed.

2. Commercial License

Another Panama government website will give you information regarding getting a commercial license in Spanish at:

This Ministry is called the MINISTERIO de COMERCIO e INDUSTRIAS, translated as the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.

This is otherwise known as your Business License. Every business in Panama is required to have one.

3. Municipal Taxes

After getting your Panamanian government licenses, you need to register with your local municipality in order to pay your municipal taxes.

4. Social Security Number

Then you must go to the Registro Patronal de la Caja de Seguro Social (CSS) to get a Social Security number for your business and for yourself.

5. Sanitary Permit

If your business deals with food or beverages, you will need to get Permisos Sanitarios with the Ministerio de Salud.

That translates as a Health Certificate from the Ministry of Health for permission to operate a sanitary business.

Every employee (including owners & management) who prepare or serve food or beverages (or are in the vicinity of food or beverage preparation or service) must obtain two different Permits. One requires a medical & dental examination at a public hospital. The other is issued after attending a two day health & safety course.

6. Fumigation Certificate

Every business which is open to the public must be fumigated. You will need to hire a private fumigation company every four months to fumigate against ants, roaches, and other bugs.

You must then present a receipt from the fumigation company and obtain a Fumigation Certificate from your local municipality. This must be publicly displayed at your business entrance.

Hiring Employees

Now that you have obtained all of the required government permits and licenses, you are now ready to hire employees.

For those of you thinking of hiring your expat buddies, Panama limits a company's work force to a maximum of 10% foreigners (non-Panamanian). Panamanian laws require that 90% of a company's employees be Panamanian citizens, or married to a Panamanian, or foreign persons residing here for at least 10 years.

But, there are exceptions:

1. Required technical or specialized staff unavailable in Panama increases your quota to 15% foreigners. You can also petition the Ministry of Labor for a higher quota.

2. Companies having less than 10 employees can employ 1 foreigner.

3. Companies can employ foreign Managers and Supervisors when the company does business abroad from Panama with prior approval by the Ministry of Labor.

You must obtain a work permit from the Ministry of Labor for every foreign worker.

Panama’s Labor Laws

The Labor Code of 1971 deals with Labor Relations including the rights and duties of employers and employees. "Subordination" is the key concept of the law. Any relationship where one person is subordinate to another falls within the law. It makes no difference whether the relationship is or is not described as "employment".

There are certain basic employee rights which must be followed:

1. Written Employment Contract

2. Minimum Wage

3. Maximum Hours

4. Paid Vacation Time

5. Firing Employees

Employee Contracts

You must have your employees sign a written employment contract called an Inscripcion Contratos con trabajadores.

You must file two copies of the contract with the Ministerio de Trabajo y Desarrollo Laboral.

Employers can easily terminate the employee during the first two years. After that, employees have greater protection under the law. The law lists "just causes" for dismissal. Unlawful dismissals can result in minimal compensation payments. Both parties can contract for "fixed terms".

Minimum wage levels vary according to the employee's seniority.

Vacations: There are 11 public holidays per year. In addition, employees are entitled to a 30 day vacation every year.

13th Month: The law also requires a 30 day paid bonus every year which is known as "the 13th month". This bonus is estimated at one-salary day for every 11 days of work. The 13 month bonus is paid in 3 equal installments: April 15th, August 15th, and December 15th every year.


Unions are allowed in Panama. Unions can collectively negotiate on behalf of the employees. Strikes are lawful under defined circumstances after a majority vote of the member employees. Conciliation is mandatory before a strike can occur. However, only around 11% of the private sector employees are unionized.

Leasing Office or Business Premises

Panama's laws regarding leasing commercial space is similar to most English speaking countries.

1. It needs to be in Writing.

2. It needs to properly describe the location of the pre-mises.

3. It needs to address the amount and frequency of the lease payments, length of the lease period, whether there is a Security and/or Damage deposit, who pays for gas, water, electricity, and repairs. It will also contain provisions for late rent payments, tenant property damage, and renewal of the lease term.

4. It must be signed by the property owners (or legally authorized representatives) and the tenants.

5. All signatures must be Notarized before a Notary Public.

There are many more terms and conditions which should be included in a standard commercial lease which is why you should consult with a Panamanian attorney before signing one prepared by your landlord.

Business Bank Account

Even if you are a sole proprietor, you should never co-mingle your personal funds with business monies. That is why you'll need to open a bank account for your business.

Partnerships and Corporations definitely need to open separate Business or Corporate Bank Accounts.

When you open an account for a corporation, partnership, or a business most banks require the following information and documentation:

1. Most banks require a personal interview, while some banks may allow a telephone interview.

2. A clear copy of the account's Signatory and each corporate Director's Passport (must include the photo & personal information page, and Panama entry stamp page).

3. A clear copy of a second photo id (such as a driver's license or national id card).

4. Two bank references for each Director and account Signatory. These references must entail the satisfactory conduct of the account holder and that the banking relationship had been ongoing for a minimum of 2 years. It would be helpful if the references also confirm the person's residential address. Many Panamanian banks require the references be specifically addressed to that bank's branch. Some banks may accept only one bank reference letter (especially if you have done all of your banking with only one bank).

5. Two professional references for each Director and account Signatory. These references may be written by one's accountant, lawyer, stock broker, insurance broker, real estate broker, or employer. They should be written on their company letterhead. These must include the duration and nature of their business relationship with the applicant. Only an Original letter will be accepted.

6. Proof of Address: You must provide a copy of a utility bill (phone, water, electricity, cable TV, or Internet service) which contains your name and address.

7. A "Company Profile" letter must be submitted which briefly describes the type of business the account holder will engage in. This will include the location of the business, the products or services you are selling, the nature and expected volume of business, the origin of the funds to be deposited, an estimate of the monthly or annual amount of funds to be deposited, and the reason for opening a bank account in Panama.

It will help if your Panamanian lawyer accompanies you to the bank in order to make sure the process goes smoothly.

Once all of these documents have been received, they will be forwarded to the bank's Compliance Officer who reviews the entire application to insure no money laundering will occur.

This process will go smoother and may have less required documents if you first go to the Panamanian bank where you already have a personal account as they already know you.


Now that you are licensed, moved into your commercial space, hired employees and have a bank account; you need to worry about taxes.


There are many legal documents, government applications, contracts, and laws one must comply with in order to start a business in Panama. That is why you should consult with a Panamanian lawyer who is knowledgeable with Panama's Business, Labor, Tax, and Real Estate laws before going into business.

About The Author
Steven Rich, MBA is the Marketing Manager for Panama Offshore Legal Services at: Panama Offshore Services

Friday, February 16, 2007

An Experienced Celebrex Lawyer Is Your Best Bet for a Successful Claim

An Experienced Celebrex Lawyer Is Your Best Bet for a Successful Claim
by: Gust A. Lenglet

Co-marketed by Pharmacia, Celebrex was celebrated as the super aspirin, and used to treat those who suffered the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, since it was released in December of 1998. Amazingly, this COX-2 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug reached an incredible $1 billion dollars in sales during its first year of marketing, proving that it was not only a super aspirin, but it was also a super money-maker for its manufacturers.

Competing with Merck’s super drug, Vioxx, the two manufacturers fought to have label warnings removed from their product in order to beat out the competition. This competition between the two companies was so intense that it is now earning the manufacturers criticism for possibly having sacrificed patient safety, in order to earn the extra bucks. On April 6th, 2000, the FDA issued a letter to Pharmacia, demanding that they make changes in their products label, stating that your representatives continue to engage in violative promotional practices. It wouldn’t be long before Celebrex and its competitor, Vioxx, would be linked to an increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, sudden deaths and strokes.

If you or a loved one have taken Celebrex for a period of 18 months and suffered a heart attack, stroke, or problems with blood clots, it would be in your best interests to contact an experienced Celebrex lawyer as soon as possible. Choosing a Celebrex lawyer will help to ensure that you receive a safe and knowledgeable consultation from a representative who is up to date on all of the latest information regarding this case. In most cases, the consultation visit with your Celebrex lawyer is free of charge and, during this time, you will be able to discuss what the best route is, for you to take.

The sooner you bring all of your information to your Celebrex lawyer, the sooner they will be able to put together a case and the greater the likelihood of you filing a successful claim against the company. Your Celebrex lawyer is sure to discuss with you, the pros and cons of either filing an individual claim against the company, or of filing a joint claim with all the others who have suffered from the side effects of Celebrex. Your Celebrex lawyer will be experienced in the current claims made against the company and stay abreast of any new developments, allowing you to breathe a little easier while your Celebrex lawyer handles all the hassles of footwork and building your case against Pharmacia.

You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to bet the best help that is available in this case. Choosing a specialized Celebrex lawyer will make a world of difference with your claim and allow you the relief of knowing that the Celebrex lawyer that you have on the case is experienced and focused in this one particular area of expertise. If you haven't already, be sure to locate a Celebrex lawyer and set up a consultation today.

About The Author
Gust A. Lenglet has been an accountant and financial advisor for many years. He is President and CEO of Crown Financial Concepts, Ltd., Crown Finance Concepts, and offers budgeting software to create a household budget. He is also an accomplished author in the tax, legal, and education fields, as well as debt consolidation and relief.