Part II: What to expect from the New Tax Laws



Understanding Pass-Through Entities

In Part I: What to expect from the New Tax Laws we briefly discussed law firm structure and why the corporate tax rate slash would not affect most small law firms, now it is time to dive deep and understand what the new flow-through tax rate is and how it applies to law firms across the country.


Small law firms are typically set up as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S Corporations.  These are known as pass-through entities meaning that business income passes through to individual tax returns.  These pass-through entities do not pay taxes themselves.  Instead, profits are passed through to owners and taxed at individual tax rates.  According to the Tax Foundation, the majority of pass-through business income is taxed at top individual tax rates.  Pass-through entities are not considered regular corporations, and thus do not fall under the corporate rate reduction.  Law firms considering the move to a regular corporation should take caution, C-corporation earnings are subject to double taxation and accumulated earnings tax on profits.  You will also want to note the additional costs of maintaining your newly incorporated C-Corporation and the fact that you will have to pay dividends to shareholders.


Lower individual tax rates

One piece of the pie that we didn’t discuss is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act new lower individual tax rates.  The individual tax rate brackets were reduced from 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6% to 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.  The 2.6% reduction at the top may be the most helpful result of the Act for attorneys.


Business Tax Deductions and Credits

The Act also cut some business tax deductions and credits.  As we previously discussed, the deduction for business entertainment expenses, except for meals was eliminated.  Deductions for local lobbying expenses and the payment of employee parking, mass transit or commuting expenses was also eliminated.  The domestic production activities deduction was removed, and in 2026, the deduction for meals provided to employees for the convenience of the employer will be eliminated. Limits will go into effect for businesses carrying a net operating loss.  In the past, law firms and other businesses with a net operating loss could carry back the loss for prior years and get a refund in most cases.  Net operating losses may only be deducted in current and future years under the new law.



It is strongly recommended that you consult a knowledgeable tax attorney before filing individual or law firm taxes. Amicus Media Group and Amicus Capital Group are dedicated to providing you more information on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other legislation. This article does not contain legal or financial advice.  Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.

Courts Divided over Calls for Litigation Funding Transparency


Litigation financing is nothing new.  For decades private companies have lent money to law firms to fund lawsuits.  This financing has helped underdog plaintiffs even the playing field against large corporate defendants that often outweigh the opposition 10 to 1 or more in financing.  Up until recently, litigation funding agreements have been kept confidential.  Recently, calls to unveil financial backers have reached courts across the nation and even landed in Washington.  While critics of confidential financing agreements argue that there could be conflicts of interests and wrongful motives for the financing, many see the importance of keeping these agreements quiet.


US Chamber of Commerce considers transparency requirements


In 2017, the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform led a broad coalition with 29 other business and legal organizations to pass The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017.  This act would require disclosure of third-party litigation funding agreements.  The bill passed the House of Representatives but was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary in the Senate.


Proponents of litigation financing argue that disclosure could limit the number of third parties willing to get involved in funding lawsuits.  They also fear that defendants could use the information to tie up litigation with unnecessary discovery requests that would reveal plaintiff’s budget limitations.  Those in favor of transparency argue that defendants have a right to know anyone with a financial interest in the lawsuit.  Calls for disclosure also come from those who fear third-party backers are funding trials for the wrong reasons.



Courts weigh in


Courts across the nation are divided in whether disclosure should be required in all lawsuits which receive third-party financing.  In 2017, the Northern District of California issued a Notice Regarding Civil LR 3-15 stating “in any proposed class, collective or representative action; the required disclosure includes any person or entity that is funding the prosecution of any claim or counterclaim.”


Recent federal decisions show how split the courts are in whether they should require disclosure of third-party financing agreements. In Kaplan v. S.A.C. Capital Advisors, the court agreed with plaintiffs that disclosure of third-party financing arrangements was not needed.  Defendants argued that there could be potential conflicts of interests, the court found that those arguments were “purely speculative” and therefore failed to show a relevant claim to require disclosure.


US District Judge James Robart out of Seattle issued a decision similar to the one in Kaplan finding that Zillow did not present a compelling reason to order the plaintiff to provide information on third-party funding.[1]


In Gbarbe v. Chevron Corp., however, the court agreed with the defendant that disclosure of litigation funding was relevant to determining “the resources that counsel will commit to representing the class.”  In the case, Chevron requested the court to compel plaintiffs to produce “documents reflecting or relating to the actual or potential financing or funding of the prosecution of the litigation.  The court granted Chevron’s motion noting that under the circumstances of the case the third-party financing agreement was relevant to the adequacy determination.



Litigation Funding Future


Given the split in court decisions, it is unclear what the future holds for required disclosure on litigation financing.  So far, the most significant move to compel disclosure of third-party funders has been in class action lawsuits.  Litigation financing continues to be an essential part of leveling the playing field between David and Goliath.



Amicus Capital Group specializes in Legal Finance.  We are a private banking company dedicated to litigation financing and other lending options for law firms.  We understand that plaintiffs are often up against deep-pocketed defendants.  We are here to help.  Our innovative solutions provide an immediate source of cash and a stable source of long-term financing for trial attorneys.  Contact us today to find out more.


This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.




[1]  (VHT, Inc. v. Zillow Group, Inc., et al, 2017)

Blockchain for Law Firms

picHow blockchain technology is changing the legal landscape

Blockchain technology has its roots in bitcoin and digital currency, but the ability to distribute digital information while ensuring that it is not copied has law firms jumping on board.  According to Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”


One of the fears that most attorneys have when it comes to digital technology involves privacy.  Confidentiality is a pillar for most law firms.  We owe a duty of confidentiality to our clients, we often draft confidential agreements, and we require a high-level of privacy when it comes to our information.  The internet lacks in the area of privacy.  Headlines are plagued with data breaches and the dissemination of private information.  Blockchain validates a user’s information, keeping a permanent public record of all transactions.  Blockchain keeps an individual’s information secure virtually eliminating the risk for private information to be leaked.  All activity is stored in a digital ledger that is transparent and incorruptible.  It is part of what has helped digital currency such as bitcoin become valued at nearly $9 billion in the United States alone.


Law Firm Collaborations

Blockchain is ideal for any legal documents.  The ability to see what has happened to a record and validate a user’s information means that documents are secure.  This enables attorneys to share “smart documents” and “smart contracts” and applies to nearly every type of practice.  Whether you are drafting business contracts or wills, blockchain can provide a transparent and incorruptible ledger of what has happened.


Law Firms have begun partnering with software firms to share information with the legal community.  Software firm R3 launched the Legal Centre of Excellence (LCoE) which aims to help attorneys understand distributed ledger technology.  Ten law firms have already joined the initiative.  The idea behind the collaboration is to provide “a platform for the global legal community to get the latest updates and share the best practices regarding blockchain technology and R3’s blockchain platform Corda.”


Amicus Capital Group is a private banking company dedicated to providing innovative litigation financing to law firms and attorneys across the country.  To learn more about the financing solutions or legal technology, contact our qualified case managers today.  We will take the time to understand your specific needs and provide the financing that you need.



This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.

The Year Ahead: Litigation Finance

picPredictions and Possibilities for 2018

2017 was a record-breaking year for many industries.  One such sector: litigation funding was on the rise and continues to grow.  The industry saw one of its most significant years in 2017 and hopes to continue its growth in 2018.  Third-party litigation funding is not a novel concept.  What is new is the number of law firms that are turning to the industry to help cover litigation cost particularly in significant civil cases.  Law firms can obtain hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to help finance legal fees and expenses as they try to secure even larger settlements or jury verdicts.


Litigation Funding: Past, Present, and Future

Litigation financing or litigation funding is when capital is provided by a third-party, uninvolved in the lawsuit, to finance the cost of litigation.  This can involve money for legal fees, expert witness fees, attorneys’ fees, court costs and any other legal expenses related to the case. The third-party receives a return on its investment from the outcome of the lawsuit.  As the price of litigation soars, the need for litigation financing becomes inevitable.  As the demand rises, so does the need to look to the future in the industry.


2018 will be marked, not by a cash flow problem in the industry, but rather by a need to bring awareness to the availability of capital.  Numerous conferences across the nation are now featuring litigation funding break-out sections, panel discussions and spotlight sessions to bring recognition to the trade.  While the market in the United States is growing, the industry has been flourishing in other countries for decades.


Trends and Takeaways

As awareness grows, so does the competition.  2018 will undoubtedly see new companies enter the field and try to take a slice of the growing market.  The market is large enough to take on some players but investing in the right cases may be an art.  Some investors will count on a quick turnaround in a field where that doesn’t exist.  It can take years before a plaintiff sees a dime out of a large civil lawsuit, this means that investors will have to be patient and see many of the cases as a long-term venture.  Some investors may be tempted to take on shorter-term matters or those that have a higher risk to obtain a quicker return on their investment.


As we mentioned, litigation funding has established markets across the globe, but a new frontier for 2018 may be areas like Singapore and Hong Kong.  In 2015, the Queen Mary University of London and White & Case conducted a comprehensive survey on International Arbitration.  The findings concluded that the five most preferred and widely used seats for international arbitration included London, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Geneva.  Hong Kong and Singapore had historically been against litigation funding but in recent years have begun chipping away at the long-standing common law.


2018 may see the requirement of disclosing third-party litigation.  However, it is unclear whether this will be decided anytime soon.  The current administration has backed away from supporting any regulations that could hinder economic growth.  Despite a petition organized by the U.S. Chamber for Legal Reform and submitted to the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Administrative Office of the United States calling for a rule requiring the disclosure of third-party funding in federal lawsuits, the question remains unanswered.  The Committee assigned the issue to a subcommittee for further discussion.


An Even Playing Field

One major victory for the entire legal community is that litigation funding evens the playing field.  The exorbitant costs of doing litigation today require a lot of capital that most individuals and many law firms just do not have access to.  The availability of a third-party to come in and assume those costs can mean that more people will be able to seek justice.


You could be doing a disservice to your firm and your clients by not utilizing the resources and capital available.  Amicus Capital Group is a private banking company that specializes in legal finance.  We are dedicated to providing trial lawyers the capital they need to pursue justice for their clients.  Call us today to learn more about our innovative solutions.



This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.




Wall Street Whistleblowers no longer protected from being fired

picUnited States Supreme Court narrows Obama Era protections for Whistleblowers


In a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court decided that the protections for Whistleblowers granted by the Dodd-Frank Act should only apply to people who report legal violations to the SEC.  The Dodd-Frank Act was passed into law by Congress in 2010 after the financial crisis.  It protected Wall Street whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed for reporting securities law violations.  The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 preceded the Dodd-Frank act.


The case in question, Digital Realty Trust v. Somers involves Paul Somers, vice president of Digital Realty Trust, was fired after he reported potential SEC violations to his bosses.  He sued Digital Realty under the Dodd-Frank act for whistleblower retaliation.  Digital Realty argued that since Somers did not report the suspected violations to the SEC, he was not protected under Dodd-Frank.  The trial court and Ninth Circuit found in favor of Somers and refused to dismiss the case based on the narrow interpretation of the Act.


SCOTUS reverses lower court ruling

SCOTUS reversed the ruling of the lower courts stating that the plain language of Dodd-Frank limits protections to employees who report violations to the SEC, not those who merely report suspected violations internally.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court, stating that Dodd-Frank defines “whistleblower” as a person who provides “information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission.”  She explains that “Sarbanes-Oxley applies to all “employees” who report misconduct to the Securities and Exchange Commission, any other federal agency, Congress, or an internal supervisor.” [1]


The Supreme Court’s decision to narrowly interpret Dodd-Frank could have far-reaching implications.  It helps to clarify what penalties companies would face for “internal-only” whistleblowers.  It may also force the hand of whistleblowers to report suspected violations directly to the SEC.  Companies would be forced to undergo significant costs and the scrutiny of public reporting.


The Future of Dodd-Frank

The current administration hopes that to ultimately change the overall scope of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Trump has called the Act a “disaster” and believes that the Act put into effect after the financial crisis of 2008 hurts economic growth.[2]  Changing Dodd-Frank would require legislation by Congress.


To learn more about the legislation currently affecting our country, contact Amicus Capital Group.  We have been a trusted source of litigation financing for going on 20 years.  We are a private banking company dedicated to providing resources for attorneys to finance litigation and obtain legal loans.  Contact us today for more information.


This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.





Part I: What to expect from the New Tax Laws


How your Law Firm Can Be Affected

The new tax laws will be greatly debated as they begin to take effect.  Consumers and corporations were both affected with the passage of the bill.  The corporate tax rate slash and elimination of certain personal itemized deductions stole the headlines, but the tax bill will affect everyone and every business in one form or another.  It is important that you understand the changes and how they will ultimately impact your firm.  The American tax system is a dense beast and the tax reform did not do much to ease the complexities.


To understand the changes we first need to address how most law firms are set up for tax purposes.  Most law firms are structured as sole proprietorships, partnerships such as an LLP, LLC or corporation (often an S-Corporation). [1]  It is strongly advised that you consult a licensed tax specialist when setting up your firm.  How you structure your business will determine how you are taxed.  For instance, if you have one of the above-mentioned structures then you are subject to self-employment tax since business income passes through to partners and members of partnerships.   One major part of the tax reform is the lower tax rate for C-Corporations.  The problem is that most law firms are not set up as C-Corporations and cannot be established as such since they are “Personal Service Corporations (PSC).”  A PSC is defined by the IRS by its principal activity and ownership.  Law falls into the category of a personal service along with accounting, consulting, architecture and a number of other fields. [2]  PSCs are not privy to the lower corporate tax rate and are taxed at 35%.  This is only the beginning.


Deductions for law firms and lawyers are stricter.  The 20% “Qualified Business Income” deduction is limited for attorneys who make over $157,500 filing as an individual or $315,000 filing jointly.  If income exceeds $207,500 for individuals and $415,000 for joint filers, the deduction starts to phase out.


If that wasn’t enough certain expenses are no longer tax-deductible.  For instance, the new tax reform eliminates business related entertainment expenses that are not ordinary and necessary to meet a directly related test or an associated test.  For instance, there cannot be a substantial distraction that would prevent you from actively conducting business such as a sporting event or a theater.  [3]


Tax laws are complicated and there is much more to the story.  Amicus Media Group and Amicus Capital Group are dedicated to bringing you more information on how the new tax reform will affect you in 2018.  Look for the 2nd Part in this series “Part 2: What to Expect from the New Tax Laws.”  We strongly recommend that you consult a licensed tax attorney prior to filing personal or business taxes.  This article does not contain legal or financial advice.  Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.






What they don’t teach you in law school


Why running your law practice like a business will greatly increase your profits

You learn a lot in law school.  From Blackstone to Section 10(b)5 you left law school with a wealth of knowledge, ready to take on the world.  Ready to start your practice and zealously represent your clients.  The problem?  Most law school classes do not teach you anything about running your practice.  If you are a solo practitioner or part of a small law firm, you are likely wearing many hats.  One of the likely hats you will don is as a business manager regardless of if you have any experience in running a business.  No matter what kind of law you practice, there are a few important takeaways that you can implement now to make your firm run smoother, grow each year and most importantly, increase your bottom line.

Goal 1: Facilitating and Coordinating Business Development Opportunities

As an attorney, our primary focus is on the representation of our clients.  Running our practice often falls secondary.  While, the focus should remain on clients, growing our business should rank a close second.  Marketing your firm is essential to success.  Understanding your market and reaching potential clients is crucial.  Working with a marketing company or marketing director is a great way to achieve this goal.  You can also reach out to referral sources and network whenever possible.  Be your client’s biggest advocate and your firm’s.


Goal 2: Know what’s working and what isn’t

Ignorance is not bliss, at least when it comes to your business.  You should always know what is working and what is not.  Whether it is an employee who is of great value and keeps clients happy or it is your marketing campaign.  Do not solely rely on someone else to answer the question, have a good idea of what is profitable in your firm, what’s gaining new clients and what isn’t.  The more you know, the more successful you will be.  Hold people accountable in their duties, but also hold yourself accountable.


Goal 3: Set systems into place

Even if you are a small firm or a solo practitioner you should have an office manual that details how the office should run.  At any time, a new employee should be able to take over the position of someone in the firm.  Relying too heavily on one person could cost you money, clients, time and more.  Too many times I have seen that an office manager, paralegal or secretary knows the ins-and-outs of the office, they are completely relied upon for everything, clients love them and so do the attorneys.  The only problem is that when they get sick, have a life-change or simply decide to move on, hiring someone to fill their shoes is next to impossible.  Not only that, but they never took the time to write out procedures and how to run the office.  Make it a goal that these procedures are laid out in a clear concise manner and that you personally could hop in at any moment to handle all aspects of the business.


Goal 4: Develop a comprehensive business plan

Develop a comprehensive business plan and stick to it.  You need to have long and short-term goals for your firm and your employees.  Running your practice more like a business will greatly increase your profits in the end.  With a little bit of work in the beginning, your firm will run smoother, with happier, more knowledgeable employees.




Amicus Capital Group provides Law Firm Management services, Operational and Financial Review as well as a whole suite of financial products to leverage and maximize your firms growth opportunities. In addition, Amicus Media provides TV, Radio and Digital Campaigns for cost effective national and regional case acquisition.  Grow your firm and get the cases from a company founded on Trust, Transparency and Track Record.


Amicus, growing Law Firm Profits for 20 years.


This blog post does not contain legal or financial advice. Author and publisher disclaim any and all warranties, liabilities, losses, costs, claims, demands, suits, or actions of any type or nature whatsoever, arising from or any way related to this blog, the use of this blog, and/or any claim that a particular technique or device described in this blog.



Amicus Group to Attend AAJ Winter Convention in Maui

Amicus Media Group and Amicus Capital Group will proudly be attending the upcoming AAJ 2018 Winter Convention in Maui February 3 – 6.  The American Association for Justice convention will be held in the picturesque Grand Wailea Resort.  Set in paradise the 4-day event will cover a wide range of topics including trucking litigation, admiralty law, asbestos litigation, family law, nursing home litigation, E-Discovery and numerous other topics.  The conference is designed by plaintiff’s lawyers and put on for plaintiff’s lawyers.  Speakers from across the nation put on cutting-edge topics with the newest litigation strategies.  Each day is broken down into specialized and advocacy tracks that help attorneys focus on a particular area of the law or litigation strategy.  Some highlights of the conference include a specialized track on “Responding to the Opioid Crisis,” “Building Credibility in a “Fake News” Environment” and “Traumatic Brain Injury Trilogy: Techniques.”


We look forward to meeting with our many clients and friends and continuing to transform the practice of law.


If you would like to meet with us, please click here to schedule:


Or reach out via email here.


Why Every Law Firm needs a Marketing Department in 2018

The legal marketing game is rapidly changing.  Tools and tricks used for years on end simply do not work anymore.  Algorithms change faster than most people get haircuts.  Search engines such as Google and Yahoo are one step ahead of the game and you should be too.  The question is how?  How do you compete when you are busy running your law firm, caring for your client, preparing for litigation – being a lawyer?  The simple answer is delegation. You can’t be expected to keep up with the ever-changing world of search engine optimization, marketing through social media, promoting your brand and establishing yourself in a crowded marketplace.  So, you must adapt to the new world that requires specialized knowledge of legal marketing and the new landscape that is shaping.


Enter a law firm marketing department.  Whether you decide to have one in-house or hire an outside company, this will be a team of highly-trained individuals who serve the purpose of marketing your firm and the attorneys that work there.  They will help you develop a solid business plan and set the goals necessary to achieve that plan.  Without them, you may spend a lot of time and a lot of money wondering what’s working and what’s not.  You may be missing out on crucial revenue that is going straight to your competitors.  The marketplace is crowded, overrun with people who do the same thing that you do.  The truth is they may not do what you do better, but if potential clients are hiring them, then they do have a better marketing team.


How do you make this a reality in 2018?  Find your dream team.  You should have a marketing manager that you trust, and that understands your vision.  You want them to perform an honest assessment of your firm’s goals and prospects.  You want them to show you how you will set yourself apart in an otherwise overcrowded field, and most importantly you want to see results.  You need to start thinking about marketing money differently.  The money you spend on marketing – if spent well – will pay dividends.  Invest in the right marketing team, and you will see a return on your investment.  Do not use this as a “get out of jail free card.”  You need to make sure that your money is being put to good use.  Regularly check in with your marketing team to see real-time results on how money is being spent and what is making the biggest impact.  Hold them accountable and vice-versa.


Change is hard, adapting can be even harder.  Your goal for the first six months of 2018 should be to find the right legal marketing team.  Look for transparency, proven track record, and trust.  You will be relying on this individual or team of individuals to take your firm to the next level, so take your time and make a wise investment.  Once you have the right people in place, go over your business plan for the next year.  Then look five years out and ten years out.  Set realistic short-term and long-term goals and then put steps into place on how to achieve these goals.  Your marketing team will help you understand the new legal marketing landscape and what you need to do to compete.


Why wait?  Get the help you need now.  Amicus Media Group is dedicated to helping law firms grow their firm.  Our team of legal marketing specialists will help you grow your firm and acquire the right kind of cases.  Read our special report “Re-Evaluating Growth: Case Acquisition with Less Risk.”