Perspectives

Sometimes all you need to navigate the legal landscape is a little information. Our blogs and articles touch on a wide spectrum of legal matters that can pop up in both business and everyday life, and we hope they’ll shed a little light wherever you happen to need it.

Join Our Team!

There are a number of exciting employment opportunities at Wagner, Falconer & Judd right now. If you or someone you know is looking for a job with an established law firm and fun, fast-paced team environment, look no further!

Employment Practice Attorney

WFJ is seeking an employment attorney to serve our growing employment law needs. Ideal applicant would have 2-4 years of employment law experience, a strong focus on customer service, and an interest in the evolving legal service industry delivery models. The successful candidate will have immediate client exposure and hands-on client interaction and must be positive, self-motivated, adaptable, high energy, and enjoy working in a fast-paced team environment. Applicants should have strong interpersonal skills, and an eagerness to help solve HR problems. Great salary with full range of benefits available.

Small Business Attorney

WFJ is seeking an entrepreneurial business law attorney to serve our growing small business clientele’s formation, acquisition, contract and employment needs. An ideal applicant would have 2-4 years of business experience, a strong focus on customer service, and an interest in the evolving legal service industry delivery models. The successful candidate will have immediate client exposure and hands-on client interaction and must be positive, self-motivated, adaptable, high energy and enjoy working in a fast-paced team environment. Great salary with full range of benefits available.

General Practice Attorney

WFJ is seeking a general practice attorney with a passion for service that is licensed to practice law in any of the following states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Montana The lawyer would assist the firm in servicing its contract for a group services legal plan with thousands of members across the state. This is a unique opportunity to service a market of individuals, families, and small businesses that are often otherwise priced out of traditional models of access to legal services. The position involves assisting clients with their legal needs through telephonic consultations, document review, legal research, and limited scope representation in many different areas of law. Applicants should have strong interpersonal skills, and an eagerness to help people solve problems. We work in a collegial, team-oriented environment, with offices in Billings, MT, Brookfield, WI, and Minneapolis, MN. We value work-life balance, offer telecommuting options to qualified employees, as well as a competitive salary and benefits package.

Litigation/Injury Attorney

WFJ is seeking an entrepreneurial injury law attorney with at least 5 years of experience to lead its injury practice. The successful candidate will work with the firm’s executive committee to grow the firm’s regional injury practice which services a large clientele of over 40,000 individuals in the upper Midwest. Excellent legal skills and superior customer service are a must. Applicants should have strong interpersonal skills, an eagerness to help people solve problems, a true caring for the client’s well-being, an understanding of social media marketing strategies, and a dedication to fostering long-term relationships with our clients. Our firm is dedicated to providing extraordinary legal representation to our clients and outstanding customer service, all in a fun, positive, team orientated environment for our employees.

Accounting Specialist

WFJ is looking for an accounting specialist who can handle a wide range of administrative support and office related tasks. Individuals must deliver outstanding service to our clients and have strong computer skills, including QuickBooks, Excel and Word. Other tasks will include data entry, invoicing and billing, deposits, and assisting with reporting. Candidates need to be well organized and able to handle confidential information. Person must be positive, self-motivated, energetic, and enjoy working on a fast-paced team . Full-time position with full range of benefits and onsite gym.

Customer Service Specialist

WFJ is seeking an experienced customer service specialist to join our growing team. This position is responsible for assisting both internal and external clients and our team of attorneys in a professional manner. We are looking for someone that thrives on helping others and who can deliver award winning service. The right candidate will possess strong leadership and communication skills, have a passion for helping others, possess a high level of integrity and be detail oriented. If you are a passionate person who thrives in a team environment and truly care about making a difference in the lives of others, this might be the right role for you. This a full-time role with daytime hours from Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00 and offers a wide range of employee benefits.

 

If you think you would be a good fit for one of these positions, please reach out to us at jobs@wfjlawfirm.com.

Project and Customer Red Flags-Commercial Collections

Sometimes it’s easy to look at a project or customer through rose colored glasses. Especially in a time when you are overworked, understaffed, and worried that the well of work might dry up. However, it’s important to keep an eye out for certain red flags that can majorly impact your ability to be paid on time. Or at all.

The attorneys at WFJ have been supporting construction companies for decades, and we’ve compiled a list of a few things that often lead to trouble later down the road.

  • Project Owner not paying general contractor or having financial problems
  • General contractor not paying your customer or having financial problems
  • Any party in contract chain files bankruptcy or is placed in receivership
  • General contractor or customer tells you to file a lien or bond claim
  • General contractor/subcontractor is terminated
  • Customer pays creditor on one project with proceeds from another project
  • Customer having difficulty obtaining credit, shopping for business loans
  • Quasi-public/private project
  • Tenant improvement projects
  • Customer not paying on time or paying in irregular amounts
  • NSF checks (to you or others)
  • Customer sells business or is talking about selling business
  • Loss of line of credit
  • Dismissal of key financial personnel
  • Problems covering payroll
  • Principal or third-party revokes personal guaranty
  • Secured party repossesses customer’s equipment or other collateral
  • Lawsuits or judgements
  • Federal or State Tax liens

 

Sometimes customers and projects don’t show any immediate red flags. If you are having trouble collecting on a project, it might be time to place your claims with Wagner, Falconer & Judd. Contact us to learn more about getting started.

Could Paying Your Rent on Time Improve your Credit Score?

The short answer, sometimes. If you are looking for a way to improve your credit score, but don’t have much of a credit history, you’re rent history could be considered.

All three major credit bureaus accept payment history if they receive it. You aren’t allowed to self-report your on-time rent payments, but there are several rent reporting services that range in price. (Your landlord might even offer to cover this expense, as most of these services offer other resources to support those managing properties.)

Paying your rent on time isn’t going to immediately boost your credit score, especially if you already have a score over 620, but a 2017 TransUnion study reported an average increase of 16 points within 6 months of reporting for consumers with a credit score below 600.

Typically, it takes at least 3-6 months of good credit behavior to see a noticeable change in your credit score. It is difficult to make a change any faster, unless the negative information on your credit report was a minor blip, like being late with bill payments one month.

Here are some time frames for negative information that detracts from your credit score:

  • A delinquent account remains on your credit report for 7 years
  • Car prepossession stays on your report for 7 years
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy is on your report for 10 years. Chapter 13 remains for 7 years
  • Credit application inquires remain on your report for 2 years
  • Public record items such as property liens are on your report for 7 years.

 

Consumers have numerous options for reviewing, consolidating, and appealing information on their credit reports. It’s hard to know which option is best for your unique situation, so let the experienced attorneys at Wagner, Falconer & Judd simplify that for you. The sooner you take charge of your credit report, the sooner you can improve your score-so reach out to us today!

5 New MN State Laws We Think You Should Know About

Unless you spend your day refreshing the Minnesota State Legislation website, you may have missed some of the new laws that have been passed so far in 2021. Don’t worry, it’s our job to pay attention- and we are happy to report back to you!

 

  1. Insurers Cannot Discriminate Against Those with Prescriptions that Interfere with Opiates

Prescription for opiate antagonist: When determining whether to issue, renew, cancel, or modify a policy of life insurance, an insurer may not make an underwriting determination based solely on information revealing that a proposed insured has a prescription for an opiate antagonist.

 

2.  Statutory Deadlines Suspended During Peacetime Emergency

An act relating to civil actions; suspending the expiring of statutory deadlines imposed upon judicial proceedings during a peacetime emergency; Deadlines governing proceedings in district and appellate courts suspended during peacetime emergency. Deadlines imposed by statues governing proceedings in the district and appellate courts, including any statute of limitations or other time periods prescribed by the statute shall not expire from the beginning of the peacetime emergency declared on March 13, 2020 in governor’s executive order 20-01 through April 15, 2021. Nothing in this statute prevents a court from holding a hearing, requiring and appearance, or issuing an order during the peacetime emergency if the judge determines that individual circumstances relevant to public safety, personal safety, or other emergency matters require action in a specific case. This section is effective the day following final enactment and applies to all deadlines that had not expired as of March 13, 2020 and that would have expired during the period starting March 13, 2020 and ending April 15, 2021.

 

3. Department of Corrections to Provide Resources to Those Recently Released

An act relating to corrections; requiring that certain information, assistance, services and medications be provided to inmates upon release from prison; providing identification cards for released inmates, requiring a homelessness mitigation plan and annual reporting on information related to homelessness.

“Beginning July 1, the Department of corrections will have to provide health and other information to people leaving the prison system. The idea is to help ease their re-entry into the community. People leaving prison must also receive a month’s supply of their medication and a prescription for two months of refills. The department must help them apply for MinnesotaCare or Medical assistance if the person wants it. The department must also provide a range of information such whether the person can vote and whether they owe court-ordered payments or fines.

 

4. Frontline Workers Who Contract Covid-19 Able to Claim Worker’s Compensation Through 2021

First responders, health care workers and child care providers who serve those groups will be able to claim worker’s compensation if they contract COVID-19 through 2021 thanks to an extension of the policy passed in April. It first took effect las year and established the presumption that the people on the front lines who developed a COVID infection were exposed to it in the workplace unless their employer could prove others.

 

5. New Law Sets Energy-Saving Goals

This law, three years in the making, “will strengthen Minnesota’s energy conservation programs, reduce greenhouse as emissions and create jobs across the state, “according to a May press release from the governor’s office. The law sets energy-saving goals and requires documentation of progress toward those goals. It took effect when Walz signed it May 25.

 

Want to see all the laws passed so far this year? Visit Minnesota State Legislation’s website to read the full list of statutes.

 

Have questions? Our attorneys are always available to work with you on your legal needs.

What You Need To Know: MN’s Emergency Executive Order for Commercial Collections

On May 4th, 2020, an Emergency Executive Order was signed into effect, placing suspensions on a number of collection activities related consumer debtors. The Order suspended “service of a garnishment summons on a consumer debtor or consumer garnishee.”* The order also suspended obtaining “information about a consumer debtor’s assets, liabilities, and personal earnings.”

On January 7th, 2021, Executive Order 21-02 amended Order 20-50 to add levies to the suspended activities as well. Up to that point, only garnishments and formal demands for disclosure of financial information had been suspended. The updates in Order 21-02 added a significant limitation on the suspension of garnishments and levies by adding language limiting the suspension of judgments entered on or after May 4th, 2020 and language allowing for wage garnishments and levies on judgments entered prior to May 4th, 2020. Previously, the suspension was on all judgments old and new.

On May 6th, 2021, the MN Governor issued Executive Order 21-21. This order provides a “sunset” provision on Orders 20-50 and 21-02. Movement on this Order relies on the determination by the Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Health to confirm that seventy percent (70%) of people sixteen years of age and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Effective two business days after that confirmation, or on Wednesday, June 30th, 2021 at 11:59 pm, whichever occurs first, Executive Orders 20-50 and 21-02 (as well as others) will be rescinded. Meaning, on July 1, 2021, or perhaps earlier, the suspension of garnishments, levies and demands for disclosure related to consumer debtors will no longer be in effect.

If you have questions about whether you may be effected by any of these changes, please reach out to one of our Commercial Collections attorneys.

 

*”for the purpose of this Executive Order, the terms ‘consumer debt’ and ‘consumer garnishee’ have the definition of ‘debtor’ and ‘garnishee’ as used in Minnesota Statutes section 571-712, subdivision 2(b) 2(c), when applied to debtors and garnishees who are natural persons and whose debt originated from the purchase of goods or services purchased primarily for a personal, family, or household purpose, and not for a commercial, agricultural, or business purpose.

Executive Order 20-50

Executive Order 21-02

Executive Order 21-21

Boating Under the Influence – What You Should Know

We all know drunk driving has become a major problem throughout the United States but what about drunk boating? With our bright sunny days and beautiful lakes, boats are an attractive place to spend many days in the summer in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Most states, like Minnesota and Wisconsin, have boating laws but just how big is the problem? According to The U.S. Coast Guard 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics released June 2, 2020, there were 633 boating fatalities nationwide in 2018, with alcohol leading the known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, accounting for 100 deaths or 19% of fatalities.

These laws are enforced but citations can be avoided if you have the right information. Please see below for a list of most commonly asked questions about boating under the influence.

1. Can I have alcohol on my boat?
Yes, open container laws do not apply to boats, meaning you are able to have an open container of alcohol on it. You are also able to openly consume it, as long as you are 21 or older.

2. Do Police enforce laws against boat operators drinking? If so, how?
Police do enforce these laws. These laws are most commonly enforced by safety checkpoints. Like roadside DWI checkpoints, police are able to set up BWI checkpoints as well. Law enforcement can stop, inspect, and test boaters for sobriety in the same manner they do in roadside checks on state highways. Those often include preliminary breath and field sobriety tests. Some states do not even require probable cause to do so.

3. What are the consequences?
The consequences of a BWI are like those of a DWI. Along with likely losing your boating license, you could also have a criminal record, lose your driver’s license, and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines to the court if convicted. These convictions can further affect your boat and car insurance rates, making you a more high risk driver if you are charged or convicted of a crime involving alcohol. If you are a commercial driver, the consequences could be devastating.

4. How can I avoid these charges?
First and foremost, avoid alcohol while operating your boat. You can further avoid these charges by knowing the areas boating laws, making sure everyone on your boat wear their life vests while following other safety rules, and by taking courses on safe boating.

If you have specific questions or wish to speak to an attorney regarding your case or any of the information above, please reach out to one of our experienced attorneys for a free case analysis.

Posted by WFJ | July 15, 2020

DO YOU HAVE CUSTODY RIGHTS? A FATHER’S GUIDE TO CUSTODY AND PARENTING TIME

Most people may be surprised to learn that a father has no legal rights to custody or parenting time with his child if he was not married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth. In Minnesota, if a child is born to an unwed mother, the mother is the sole legal and physical custodian of the child. A father has to bring a legal action to obtain rights to custody and parenting time, even in cases where paternity is uncontested.

At the hospital, many unwed fathers sign a Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form along with the Birth Certificate. The ROP is different than an application for a birth certificate. The form must be completed by both parties and signed in the presence of a notary public. Then the form is filed with the Minnesota Department of Health. The legal effect of the form is to provide the father with a paternity presumption determination akin to that of a judgment or court order. If the ROP is on file with the state, the father may commence an action to determine legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time with the minor child or children. If a ROP has not been signed and filed with the state, then the father must first bring a paternity action to declare the existence of a parent-child relationship before any rights of custody or parenting time can be determined.

If a father is named on the child’s birth certificate but a Recognition of Parentage has not been completed by the parties, the birth certificate provides the father with a presumption of paternity but is not legally conclusive, nor legally binding like a ROP.

To put it another way, if a father does not sign the birth certificate, the mother or the County may file a paternity action to determine if the father is the biological father and therefore responsible to pay child support.  If a father signed the birth certificate and ROP, then the mother or County can merely apply for child support and begin those proceedings.  However, just because a father is responsible to pay child support does not mean that he has a right to custody or parenting time.  The only way for an unmarried father to gain custody and parenting time rights is to file for a Petition to Establish Custody and Parenting Time (or Paternity action if you are not on the ROP).  If the mother agrees that the father should have custody and parenting time, there is a Joint Petition to Establish Custody and Parenting Time that the parties can file with the Court.  If the mother does not agree, then the father can file a Petition with the Court and begin proceedings to establish custody.

If you’re a father struggling to obtain rights to your child, please do not hesitate to call one of our experienced attorneys to help you through the process.

Posted July 9, 2020

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