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Showing posts from November, 2014

Crowdfunding Lawsuits

Has the popularity of crowdfunding reached the litigation realm? With the appearance of companies like LexShares, it appears so. Crowdfunding, or funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet, has grown tremendously in popularity over the last five years. In a typical crowdfunding endeavor, the person with the idea or project seeks funding from individuals who are interested in benefiting from, or being related to a funded project, through a third-party platform that brings the groups together. Kickstarter and GoFundMe are among the popular crowdfunding platforms that have been used successfully to fund filmmaking, video games, technology products, and even Super PACs for political campaigns.
Just as it is expensive to finance the making of a film or the development of new technology, funding litigation can be equally costly. Though, for example, a small business may have a claim that is likely to lead to a l…

HeinOnline Law Reviews & Journals Access for Texas Bar Members

This summer, members of the Texas bar were introduced to Fastcase, a legal research database that allows users to search case law, statutes, administrative materials, and other aspects of law at no additional cost. Fastcase is now available in addition to Casemaker, making Texas the first and only state to offer free access to both popular systems.  
In 2013, Fastcase partnered with HeinOnline to share their many resources. Under the agreement, Hein will provide federal and state case law to HeinOnline subscribers via inline hyperlinks powered by Fastcase. In addition, Fastcase now completely integrates HeinOnline’s extensive law review collection in search results. For many years, one of the biggest disadvantages to using these low-cost legal research systems has been the lack of reliable secondary sources. With this partnership, when a case law search is performed in Fastcase, suggested results from HeinOnline journals appear in a sidebar. The journals may also be searched individu…

Regulations Governing Practice Before the I.R.S.

In addition to being admitted to a state bar, attorneys must be approved to represent clients before the I.R.S. (See Publication 947 for more information). Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the I.R.S. (which is codified in Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subtitle A, Part 10) consists of rules regulating the practice of attorneys, C.P.A.'s, enrolled agents, enrolled retirement agents, and registered tax preparers. Circular 230 consists of five "subparts:" including
Subpart A- Authority to Practice before the I.R.S.Subpart B- Duties and Restrictions Related to PracticeSubpart C-Sanctions for Violating RegulationsSubpart D-Disciplinary ProceedingsSubpart E-Official Records  For more information regarding Circular 230, see the following materials:
Jonathan G. Blattmachr, Mitchell Gans & Damien Rios, The Circular 230 Deskbook (Practicing Law Institute) (KF6301.B53 2006) (available on BloombergLaw.com)Erin M. Collins & Edward M Robbins, Jr…

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Discharges Tax Debts Despite "Lavish" Spending

Forbes is reporting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled in favor of a taxpayer seeking to discharge his tax liability through the bankruptcy process. In this case, Hawkins v. Franchise Tax Board, the court reversed the district court's decision that a "chapter 11 debtor's tax debts were excepted from discharge on the basis of his willful attempt to evade or defeat taxes under 11 U.S.C. Section 523 (a)(1)(C)." The debts included $19 million owed to the I.R.S. and $10.4 million to the California Franchise Tax Board based on proof of claims filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The article by Forbes discusses the potentially broad impact of this decision, which focuses on whether lavish spending itself constitutes "willful" under I.R.C. Section 523(a)(1)(C).

More information can be found regarding the discharge of tax debts through bankruptcy in Bloomberg BNA's Tax Management Portfolio Part VII (Portfolio No. 638-4th) (KF6289.A.1…

Texas Bar Exam Results Are In

The Texas Board of Law Examiners has released the names of the examinees who passed the July 2014 Texas Bar Examination.University of Houston Law Center alumni did very well this year, with 86.29% of first-time UHLC exam takers passing while the overall average for all first-time takers was 77.12%.Additional statistics regarding the results of the most recent Examination may be found here. Congratulations to all of the new attorneys who are or will soon be admitted to the Texas Bar, and best wishes to everyone planning to take the next examination in February.

Election Law Resources

Today is Election Day.Texas elections have been the focus of national attention following the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to enjoin Texas’ voter identification law while it waits to hear the case on its merits.Here are some resources that may be of interest to anyone interested in the legal history behind this case, or interested in election law generally as it will affect Houston today: The law in question, Tex. S.B. 14, 82nd Leg., R.S. (2011), which amends the Texas Election Code to establish voter identification requirements, was challenged by the Department of Justice in Texas v. Holder.The Supreme Court declined to block the new law before hearing the case, leaving the new identification requirement in effect for today’s voting.This case follows last year’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, where the Court held Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, and is only the latest development in the nearly 50-year history of the Voting Rights Act. Foll…