Archive | March 2012

In defense of self


"stay away from my husband!" by author

The controversy and rancor over the tragic shooting of Florida teenager Treyvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has put a spotlight on so-called “stand your ground” laws that 18 states currently have in force.  Basically, stand your ground is a further expansion of the common law self-defense doctrine that every state has codified in various degrees.

The common law self-defense doctrine allows for the use of justifiable force to protect your or someone else’s life.  The elements are that you are a non-aggressor that must have reasonable belief that force is necessary to protect yourself from the imminent use of unlawful force by another person, and that your response must be in kind (in other words, you cannot use deadly force if your life is not threatened).  Deadly force is permissible if your life is in danger, and — most importantly — there is a duty to retreat if the opportunity presents itself.

The so-called “Castle doctrine” expands common-law self-defense by removing the duty to retreat if threatened with bodily harm in your home.  27 states have passed a version of this rule.

A number of states have passed “stand-your-ground” laws, which further expand self-defense by removing the duty to retreat in situations outside the home. If you feel threatened anywhere, you can “stand your ground” and defend yourself, and the law grants immunity from prosecution for homicide or manslaughter.  Florida’s rule is now under the media and legal microscope in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

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Business Planning Square 1: Mission Statement


"Enterprising" by author

So you want to start a small business — in my case, a law firm.    Virtually all experts recommend drafting a business plan, which is what I have started with step 1: the mission statement.  After all, the first thing you need to step into the self-starter world is a reason to exist.

Of course, being a lawyer, the first thing I did is look for reference material online.  There are many resources floating around the Internet to assist in creating a business plan.  Perhaps the most referred link is the Small Business Administration’s “How to Write a Business Plan” page, which has comprehensive and user-friendly guides for the budding entrepreneur.  I also found CMS Law Firm’s blog Starting a Law Firm helpful (they recently created a new site here). Finally, here’s a link to the American Bar Association’s solo practice resource page.

Taking all of this advice, plus that of my loving fiancee, I set to work on coming up with a mission statement.  I thought about how I want to make my embryonic practice stand out in a sea of solo and small firms in the Metro DC area.  I wrote down a few bullet points describing what I envision my firm will be in the near and not-so-distant future.    Since a mission statement should only contain a few sentences, I condensed the points into a short paragraph, which is now on my firm website and Facebook page.

“It is our mission to provide quality legal representation with the highest level of integrity. We will strive to provide services based on value to the client, helping the growing segment of the population that cannot afford legal representation under a traditional billable hour system. Through these principles, our goal is to become a leading family law practice in Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia.”

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.