Legal Matters

Farm Succession Planning

Land Counsel

Real Property Transactions

Solar Lease Review and Negotiation

Estate Planning and Trusts

Business Organization (Partnerships, Corporations, Limited Liability Companies)

Heir Property Partition (Land and Timber)

Heir Property Consolidation

Production Contracts

Farm Leases

Equipment Leasing

Present Use Value

Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA)

Farm Asset Protection

Conservation Easements

Organic Certification Challenge

Special Needs Trusts

 

 

Navigation

Cedar Grove, NC

I started this law practice for the simple reason that I'm fascinated by farming and land use, and the legal rights and responsibilities that govern land and its use and transfer.  The firm provides business and estate planning support to farmers and landowners intent on keeping their farms, forests, and other natural resource concerns growing and productive as they pass to the next generation.


Are You the Right Client?

This law practice concentrates on the needs and goals of farmers and owners of rural land in North Carolina and Virginia.  I counsel farm operations and timberland owners, and work with individuals and families who want to secure, protect and develop land assets for their rural enterprise and continued enjoyment.  I also work with other businesses in the farming system, such as marketing and distribution enities, value-added processors and entrepreneurs, and non-profit and for-profit farm service providers.  I also work for businesses and individuals outside the farm and land sector if there's a good fit.

I have a personal interest in families with special needs individuals, particularly children, so I devote part of my parctice to helping them.

 

Why It's Called a "Practice"

I don't expect clients to take my counsel on faith.  Instead I labor to make sure they understand it, always knowing that I take responsibility to guide them through the decisions they take at my direction and under the architecture I have supplied.  I prepare schematics and compile FAQ's to help the client understand what will happen in their Trust or Operating Agreement upon an "event".  I do the best I can to illustrate how things might play out in a dispute.  I don't run a high volume practice that generates generic documents into which I've simply entered the names of a client's family members. My documents speak to the history of the family and the goals of the client. I've labored over the drafting of my own Wills, Trusts, Leases, LLC Operating Agreements, etc. and construct them from experiences with other farming and landowning clients.  Each new client graciously offers me the opportunity to revisit and improve each document, sometimes discover and draft new ones, all based on my other client experiences and updated understanding of developments in the law.  I don't pretend to be an "expert", I simply continue to practice trying to get it right.

 

Project Management

Getting Started.  Every project starts with initial contact, sometimes a phone call, sometimes an email (best generated from the Make Contact page).  I charge for initial consults, this isn't a "have you been injured in an accident?" firm where I'm investigating whether your case will make a sound investment.  After our consult you will leave with a list of things to do or consider.  If you leave me with a list, we've entered the next phase and can develop a project budget and scope.

  • Coming to See Me.  Hillsborough is just off the junction of Interstates 85 and 40, with a nice downtown of small shops and eats.  Hillsborough is about 45 minutes west/northwest of Raleigh, the same distance east of Greensboro, the same due south of Danville and South Boston, Virginia.  It is about 2.5 hours from both Charlotte and Richmond. 
  • Coming to See You.  I often visit clients at their farm, finding such visits a good beginning to a working relationship.  I also routinely secure confidential meeting space in locations mutually convenient to clients (eg. points east of I-95, central Virginia, the western NC Piedmont).  I'm most often meeting clients at a combination of locations throughout a project, including their homes and land, their CPA's office, their bank, sometimes their church.  That said, I may ask for a fair arrangement on travel costs and travel time. 

Project Budgets.  Because all projects are unique, each needs a budget of tasks, estimated labor, travel and costs. For simple tasks like deed preparation, the estimate is fairly easy.  For farm succession projects, the budget will of course depend on what is required to effectively manage your risk while achieving your property disposition goals.

A Note About Fees.  I bill by the hour, and from experience can fairly well estimate what labor a project will require, particularly if it is a straightforward series of tasks.  If I project a budget estimate, I stick to it but - if there's an unanticipated glitch (e.g. land title problem) that holds up a project or threatens our schedule - I expect the client to consider that the project scope has expanded and will cost more.  I have a worker's appreciation of money and its competing family uses, and do think I'm pretty fair (and certainly competitive) with my fees even compared to local general practice lawyers.  I'm open to hybrid fee arrangements, particularly where I'm being asked to negotiate property and business sales. 

Co-counsel Opportunities.  There are so many tasks more efficiently handled by your local lawyer.  If you would like me to apply my experience to work with your current attorney on specific matters that fall within my practice concentration, I welcome the opportunity.