The Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin hall was packed this past Sunday morning, April 18, for Agudath Israel of America’s Dina D’Malchusa legal seminar for businesses. The seminar, which focused on legal matters pertaining to businesses, attracted a diverse crowd of business owners and those just starting out in business, as well as legal and accounting professionals. For close to three hours, participants were all ears as the panelists clarified many of the intricacies involved in properly conducting a business.
The program began with opening remarks by Agudah staff attorney Yehuda Kupfer, Esq., who organized and moderated the seminar. He emphasized the “need to be proactive with respect to conducting our business affairs in the proper way – to find out what works and what doesn’t before it’s too late.” Mr. Kupfer framed the seminar as “a good starting point” for business people, and a means to alert them to the issues on which they should work with their own professionals in order to ensure that their businesses are in full compliance with the law. The program continued with divrei brocha from Agudath Israel’s executive director, Rabbi Labish Becker.
Then the substantive presentations got underway. First to address the crowd on the nuts and bolts issues was Stanley P. Kupfer, Esq., a Brooklyn lawyer who counsels clients regarding business and compliance issues. He discussed a broad range of business issues, highlighting pitfalls that can snare the unwary. Among his topics were: business start-up considerations; state and local licensing requirements; choosing entity names; the differences between various corporate forms; adequate capitalization of a business; observing corporate formalities; the need for and means of obtaining an EIN; business bookkeeping; accepting payments in cash; the handling of deposits and disbursements; common legal pitfalls and issues of personal liability; issues pertaining to New York Unemployment Insurance requirements, Workers’ Compensation requirements, disability requirements, employee compensation options and requirements for operating a safe working environment.
The second half of the program was addressed jointly by Sylvan J. Schaffer, Esq. and Mathew A. Steinberg, Esq., each a labor/employment lawyer at Jackson Lewis LLP in Manhattan. The two attorneys provided a primer about labor and employment law and made practical suggestions for avoiding litigation. Issues discussed included: laws pertinent to seeking, interviewing and hiring employees; the differences between at-will employment and employee contracts; maintaining employee personnel files and employee handbooks; discrimination, harassment and retaliation; minimum wage and overtime issues; employee reviews, discipline and termination.
After the panelists entertained a number of questions from the audience, the program was closed with remarks by Rabbi Gedaliah Weinberger, chairman of Agudath Israel’s board of trustees.
In additional to leaving with useful handout materials sure to be read, reread and used as reference tools, the audience seemed pleased with the newfound knowledge they gained at the seminar.
“All of the presentations were very interesting, done in a professional manner … Please conduct these seminars more often,” commented one attendee. Another provided his “thanks for putting together this wonderful and necessary seminar. It was long overdue.” Yet another audience member remarked how “the seminar was very informative, very well run with great panelists presenting.” He ended with an enthusiastic “Thank you!”
Over past months, Agudath Israel has presented a number of conferences and seminars to yeshivos, gemachs and shuls on an assortment of legal topics. Drawing hundreds of attendees, the seminars have included: gemach workshops in Borough Park and Lakewood; a community-wide legal seminar in Los Angeles; a tax conference for yeshiva administrators and their accountants in Flatbush; and a seminar dealing with legal issues pertinent to shuls at Agudath Israel’s most recent national convention. Seminars addressing a combination of issues pertinent to yeshivas, gemachs and shuls are also set to take place in Cleveland on April 25th and Chicago on May 11th.
Members of the public interested in purchasing a recording of Sunday’s seminar should email [email protected] or call 212-797-9000 Ext. 330.
(YWN Desk – NYC)