US Legal Services and Expertise
The Norris Law Firm provides the following legal services:
Unlike domestic business organisation rules, the federal system of the United States provides that the business entities are governed by both state and the federal laws and regulations. Every state has different laws which affect the choice of entity form, owner liability, tax liability, regulatory compliance, and operational costs of business entities. Without American legal advice, a foreign investor wishing to organize a business in the United States is in peril of organizing in a state that does not meet its needs and increases the cost of doing business in the US. The Norris Law Firm provides analysis of your specific business needs to match you with the most advantageous state forum. The Norris Law Firm also provides you with the state specific legal documentation needed to ensure that your new business is fully protected under American Law. In addition to our legal advice, we also provide the following services:
- Name Availability Searches
- Local Registered Agent for Service of Process
- Registration of Corporations or other Business Entities with federal and state governments (corporate kits and seals available)
- Partnership Agreements
- Limited Liability Partnership Agreements
- Limited Liability Company Agreements
- Operating Agreements
- Holding Corporations
- Multi-layered Corporate Structures
CONTRACT DRAFTING, REVIEW AND NEGOTIATION
International commercial contracts often include provisions that touch on US legal issues. The Norris Law Firm can review or draft your contracts to ensure that you are fully protected under the state and federal laws of the United States, and in keeping with the US case law. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm provide a full range of contract drafting, review and negotiating services for contracts with US businesses or otherwise connected with US laws.
US copyright law is far-reaching and carries heavy penalties for violation, including potential extradition to the United States for criminal prosecution. The Norris Law Firm provides US legal advice regarding the application of US copyright law to our clients’ businesses and intellectual property. We also assist our clients in protection of their copyrighted works within the United States, providing copyright registration services.
Litigation, corporate due diligence, regulatory compliance procedures (AML/CFT/FATCA compliance monitoring), and governmental investigatory actions (subpoenas and inquiries) require the location and review of large amounts of data. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firmare highly skilled at coordinating large scale electronic data reviews and training and leading review teams. We can create and train teams to identify and locate the information you need in an efficient and cost effective manner.
The growing music and film industry in New Zealand and Australia exposes our clients to Hollywood production studios and recording labels who often insist on operating under US law. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm have a proven track record of representing artists in contract negotiations with Hollywood. We provide our clients with expert legal advice regarding the pitfalls and traps in American entertainment contracts and offer direct negotiation services to obtain the most favorable terms possible.
ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
Clients conducting actual operations in the United States will often find their operations subject to environmental regulatory oversight by both the state and federal government. Also, clients purchasing real estate in the United States need to be aware of environmental regulations which can greatly affect the potential value of their investments. The Norris Law Firm provides our clients with analysis of potential environmental regulatory issues and expected costs. We can also provide you with access to state of the art environmental engineering firms to assist you with any clean up or pollution analysis.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) is a far-reaching United States statute which affects financial institutions and financial account holders outside the United States, including New Zealand and Australia. In essence, FATCA requires all financial institutions outside of the United States of America with account holders who are subject to United States taxes to report specific information regarding those accounts to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In order to comply with these requirements financial institutions must put in place a compliance program and perform due diligence investigations to determine which accounts are subject to the FATCA reporting requirements. Given the wide array of clients served by New Zealand and Australian financial institutions, the implementation of a FATCA program is an enormous task to complete before the 1 January 2013 deadline. It is in a financial institution’s best interest to ensure that their protocols and procedures meet the FATCA standards to avoid harsh withholding penalties on transactions originating within the United States.
Unfortunately, the United States Government has provided very little guidance on how to meet FATCA requirements. The Norris Law Firm fills that gap by providing special training programs and “boot camps” to assist financial institutions in educating their employees about FATCA basics and their duties in connection with the new regulations. The Norris Law Firm can also connect financial institutions to FATCA specialists in the United States for in-depth analysis of institutional procedures and protocols to ensure compliance with FATCA requirements.
FINANCIAL & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE ISSUES
International businesses are often subject to US regulatory compliance schemes. Violations of these laws and regulations often come with heavy penalties and immeasurable reputational risk. Deciphering and interpreting these complex and ever changing laws and regulations can be daunting without significant understanding of the US legal system. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm can provide you with legal advice regarding the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the UK Bribery Act of 2010, and other international anti-bribery laws. We also offer legal advice on international Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws and regulations and Counter Fighting of Terrorism (CFT) laws and regulations.
Doing business with US firms or in the United States often involves dealing with US based insurance policies. These insurance policies, while having an international effect, are regulated and governed by the laws of the US jurisdiction designated in the language of the applicable policies. The attorneys of The Norris Law Firm are highly experienced in providing legal opinions regarding insurance coverage, in the presentation of insurance claims, and in the resolution of insurance disputes. We are also experienced in subrogation claims and insurance defense.
Clients wishing to export or import goods to/from the lucrative US market will need to structure their transactions to take advantage of US trade agreements and customs laws. The Norris Law Firm will review and/or structure international transactions to both maximize the potential benefits under the laws regulating imports/exports (e.g., duties payable, country of origin marking, admissibility, etc.) and to limit penalty and tariff exposure with respect to those transactions.
We provide access to representation before Customs Port offices around the US, Customs Headquarters in Washington DC, the Court of International Trade, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and other various agencies in relation to import and export transactions. Additionally, The Norris Law Firm provides access to experienced counsel and representation before Federal District Courts regarding seizure and forfeiture cases and criminal penalty actions as well as counsel and representation before Customs in connection with investigations that can result in heavy penalties, both civil and criminal, against individuals and corporations.
LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW
At The Norris Law Firm, we understand that our clients’ often have global workforces and global employment issues. We help our clients’business grow by developing cross-border solutions to centralize their employment, human resources and compensation practices. We provide our clients with custom streamlined global codes of business ethics and employment handbooks concerning:
- Codes of Conduct
- Sexual harassment and discrimination policies
- Finance and sales policies
- Computer usage and business property usage policies
- Financial and health information privacy policies
- Trade secret and confidentiality policies
- Employment termination and retirement policies
- Employee benefits and severance polices
Clients that have employees in the United States or US employees located here are potentially under the jurisdiction of US state and federal labour and employment laws and regulations. These laws and regulations require strict compliance, and violations can lead to statutory penalties and exposure to state and federal litigation claims. We can assist you with internal investigations and legal audits regarding a wide variety of labour and employment law/human resources issues and claims including:
- Wrongful Termination
- Sexual Harassment Claims
- Whistle-blower Claims
- Equal Opportunity (Race/Gender/Religious/National Origin) Claims
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
In addition, we can assist you with negotiating employment contracts which will protect your business
- Non-Compete Agreements
- Confidentiality and Trade Secret Agreements
Finally, we can provide you with legal investigations and audits to ensure your business operations are in compliance with state and federal workplace safety and health laws and regulations.
Clients conducting business in the United States or with US businesses will find themselves exposed to litigation in the courts of the United States or in international arbitration forums. Our attorneys have significant commercial litigation experience in both state and federal courts, representing both plaintiffs and defendants, and have a 94.3% trial success rate. We understand the hard-nosed litigation practices in the US and can provide you with tough aggressive litigation representation.
Norris Legal Consultants also represents individuals and businesses in a variety of non-commercial disputes such as negligence claims, personal injury, medical and professional malpractice, and probate disputes.
For clients that already have litigation counsel in the US, The Norris Law Firm can provide case supervision and legal auditing services to ensure that legal fees and case expenses stay within the norm of expected costs given the type of litigation confronted by our clients.
OIL & GAS
Oil and gas exploration and production in New Zealand and Australia often requires dealing with US firms. The Norris Law Firm can provide US legal advice to domestic clients dealing with US oil and gas firms. Our attorneys have experience in the oil and gas industry and are familiar with issues confronted by non-US businesses or property owners dealing with potential oil and gas production and exploration by US oil and gas firms. We can review and/or structure your transactions and agreements to ensure that your interests are fully protected when US laws apply.
The Norris Law Firm has offices in Houston, Texas (the “energy capital of the world”) and provides access to a number of oil field service companies and oil and gas exploration companies. We can negotiate lucrative agreements with these US companies in connection with domestic oil and gas exploration and production.
Patent litigation in the US is notorious for placing crippling costs on businesses offering technical services or selling manufactured products in the US or other territories subject to US patent laws pursuant to treaties. Businesses will often find themselves the victim of entrepreneurial plaintiff attorneys (“patent trolls”) who purchase broadly worded patents and sue businesses who offer services or products that have any remote connection to the purchased patent. The cost of defending a patent claim is staggering, often amounting to millions of dollars in attorney’s fees, costs and expenses. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm can negotiate low cost settlements for clients finding themselves subject to this predatory litigation and can also provide access to expert US patent attorneys who can set up pre-litigation defenses or file protective patents covering our clients’ goods and services.
POWER OF ATTORNEY SERVICES
Clients wishing to conduct business in the United States but who are unable to travel to the United States can hire the attorneys at the The Norris Law Firm under specific power of attorney agreements to represent their needs on the ground in the US.
PROPERTY/ REAL ESTATE LAW
Investment in property in the United States involves multiple legal issues including property law, environmental law, tax law, securities law, and other state and federal agency regulations. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm have experience in putting together residential and commercial real estate developments and can provide our clients with legal advice, agreement structuring, and negotiation services to achieve an efficient closing on real estate purchases and investments. The Norris Law Firm also provides access to skilled and experienced real estate brokers that can assist our clients in locating and selecting property acquisitions.
Clients operating internationally should seek to take advantage of US trademark law whenever possible in order to protect their business goodwill and brand identity. The Norris Law Firm provides trademark services for clients exporting goods to the United States. We can assist you from creation of your trademark to registration of your trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office in Washington DC.US MARITIME & SHIPPING LAW
US maritime and shipping law often comes into play when dealing with US firms operating in international waters or when exporting goods to the United States. The attorneys at The Norris Law Firm have extensive experience handling all aspects of the shipping industry—cargo disputes; seaman’s claims, including those under the US Death on the High Seas Act, US Jones Act, and US Long-shore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act; maritime products liability claims; maritime oilfield claims, maritime insurance disputes; maritime finance agreements; and related issues.
WHITE COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE
The Norris Law Firm provides our clients with access to highly skilled white collar criminal defense counsel in the United States. These attorneys can provide you with a strong and effective defense in the following white collar criminal areas:
- Business, Corporate and Investment Fraud
- Bribery/Money Laundering
- Securities and Commodities Fraud
- Insurance and Health Care Fraud