Business

The Mazzola Law Office – P.C. provides ongoing advice to California businesses and also represents them in litigation. Our clients range from large, multi-state corporations to small, local sole proprietorships.

Business Litigation – Most business owners and managers recognize they are often the best person to resolve business disputes. They know their own company, they know the contract because they negotiated it, and they know the people on the other side of the transaction. When a dispute cannot be resolved through the normal channels, businesses recognize the importance of bringing an attorney’s perspective to the table. An attorney will help the business evaluate the legal implications of their contract and suggest the most efficient way of resolving the dispute. When the need for litigation arises, we have the skill and dedication to help our clients achieve the results they require.

Contract Negotiation – The heart of business is the exchange of goods and services. Underpinning that reality is the principle of contract law. The terms of a contract are often thought of as secondary details, but in fact they are the roadmap of rules when a dispute arises. Our experience consistently drives better results for our clients in contract negotiations. Working in tandem with the business representative, we learn what is important to success and use our legal acumen to achieve the best contract terms for our clients.

Commercial Leases – When entering into a commercial lease, businesses should be aware that not all leases are created equal. Some leases place far too much risk onto the tenant. It is imperative to negotiate the terms of a new or renewal lease agreement. Our office provides advice to help businesses understand their obligations and negotiate improved lease terms.

Purchase and Sale Agreements – Entering into the purchase or sale of business or property requires performing due diligence. Drafting the right contractual terms, investigating the value of the asset, and reviewing the financials of the deal are essential items.

Personnel Matters – Employees are often the single most important part of any successful business. The laws that govern the employment relationship in California are complex and, at times, counterintuitive. We pride ourselves in helping California employers understand their legal rights, obligations, and solutions. Whether it involves hiring or terminating employees, understanding employee leave of absence requests, personnel issues, or defending the employer in litigation, we offer a depth of knowledge in employment matters and an unparalleled commitment for achieving success.

Entity Formation – Selecting the right form of a business is a choice with two primary goals in mind, limiting personal liability and selecting the right structure. There are a range of options available to businesses including incorporation, limited liability companies, partnerships, and limited liability partnerships. Often businesses begin as sole proprietorships and after reaching a certain level recognize the need for consultation to consider the advantages of a formal business organization.

Trade Secrets, Unfair Competition, Customer Lists – California allows employees to freely come and go. They have the right to lawfully go into competition with their former employer. As a result, businesses should take appropriate steps to identify and protect their trade secrets and customer lists. A customer list can be one of the most important assets a business owns.

Whether a customer list qualifies as a trade secret, and thus is entitled to protection from theft or misappropriation, depends on the economic value it holds and the reasonable steps a business takes to protect it. A trade secret is information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process, that: (a) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to the public or to other persons or entities who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use and (b) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.

Issues of this nature often arise when a former employee attempts to use a customer list or confidential company information for his or her own benefit. Proactive employers should establish reasonable protections and policies to govern their confidential information. This should include the use of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements with their employees. It is also important for former employers not to overreach in their claims that their former employees are competing unfairly. Whether conduct violates California’s Unfair Competition Law (Business and Professions Code 17200) is a fact specific inquiry that requires the services of an experienced attorney.

Alternative Dispute Resolution – Arbitration and mediation are referred to as alternative dispute resolution because they are alternatives to regular, court-based litigation. Prior to becoming an attorney, Simon Mazzola worked for the American Arbitration Association for five years. As a result, he has seen hundreds of arbitrations and mediations and helped to train arbitrators and mediators. His experience brings a deep understanding of alternative dispute resolution to the service of our clients.

Arbitration appears frequently in commercial contracts. Many people think of arbitration as simply another venue to the courts and assume all the same rules apply. However, there are important differences between arbitration and civil litigation. A party must agree to arbitrate disputes, which can lead to obstacles in multiparty disputes. Arbitration typically does not provide for discovery. This can impose severe restrictions in proving a case. Arbitration also requires the parties to pay the arbitrator’s hourly fees, whereas that is not true for a Superior Court judge. Litigation is a more public forum. Judges have to follow case law, whereas an arbitrator is not bound by the same rules. Those distinctions must be weighed when evaluating whether arbitration or litigation is the better forum to resolve a dispute.

Mediation is a process where a skilled neutral helps the parties resolve their own dispute. Unlike an arbitrator who has the power to make decisions, a mediator helps the parties negotiate their own resolution and cannot require a resolution that the parties do not agree is appropriate.