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The Avanti Group Law Articles: Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

With our partnership with Detroit-based Sommers Schwartz, PC, we represent persons who have been seriously injured or who have died due to the negligence of another person, malpractice or the existence of a defective product. ( We counsel clients on unique methods to settle their case in an effort to minimize the emotional difficulty often encountered in connection with these types of cases, while at the same time zealously advocating for and protecting our client’s interests.
Whenever possible, we strive to resolve issues by agreement; however, we will effectively litigate those cases that cannot be settled.

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The Avanti Group Law Articles: Non-Profit Organizations

Avanti Law Group can help you at all stages of your non-profit organization–from the forming of a non-profit organization to obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS, to complying with federal and state laws governing fund-raising and operations. When you retain us to create the non-profit organization and obtain recognition from the IRS of its tax-exempt status, you are getting much more than documents. You receive a comprehensive consultation to make sure you understand formation and governance options. If you are considering forming a non-profit organization or you are managing a non-profit organization (such as 501(c)(3) as well as many organizations that are tax exempt under other categories of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, e.g., social welfare organizations exempt under 501(c)(4) and trade associations exempt under 501(c)(6)), we would welcome the opportunity to be of services to you.

We advise in regard to options for the formation of a new non-profit organization, draft the necessary documents to create the organization, and secure IRS recognition of tax-exempt status. We also provide state charitable solicitation registrations for 501(c)(3) organizations, as may be needed. These services are usually provided on a “fixed fee” basis.

Some of our services include:

• Formation (preparing all organizational documents, e.g. articles of incorporation, bylaws, trusts)
• Securing IRS Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status (IRS Forms 1023 and 1024)
• Advice as to IRS Form 990 (Annual Tax Information Return)
• State Regulatory Compliance
• Charitable Solicitation Registrations
• Tax Advice (Avoiding Unrelated Business Taxable Income; Maintaining Tax-Exempt Status)
• Facilities Acquisition
• Planned Giving (including Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Gift Annuities)
• Capital Campaigns
• Advice Regarding and Review of Fundraising Agreements of All Types
• Intellectual Property Protection
• Representation in IRS Audits and Tax Controversies, Including In Tax Court
• Group Exemption Rulings
• Non-Profit Mail Permits
• Executive Compensation Planning
• Charitable Giving Generally (Both Lifetime and Testamentary)
• Corporate Sponsorship Agreements
• Royalty License Agreements
• Charitable Sales Promotion Agreements

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The Avanti Group Law Articles: Document Review Services

Successful litigators know that document production and discovery management requires a well-planned and meticulous analysis of relevant documents as the only way to develop the key factual evidence and build the evidentiary foundation of a winning case.

Avanti’s Document review services are provided at the direction of, and for review by, attorneys.

Our document review and litigation outsource service include:

• Electronic Document Review
• Hard Copy Document Review
• Audio and Media File Review
• Deposition Transcript Summaries
• Due Diligence Review
• Contract Review

Typical engagements include:

• Standard or subjective reviews for relevance, privilege, confidentiality and issue coding determinations.
• Evaluation of documents to determine relevant summary information, such as key topics of the case, important people, specific vocabulary and jargon, and important individual documents.
• Organization of collected documents.
• Legal Review of Spanish written documents

The Avanti Group Law Articles: Estate Planning, Elder Law and Planning for Special Needs

Avanti lawyers assist families and individuals in the development and implementation of estate plans that reflect their personal values, concerns, and goals. 

We give our clients peace of mind that their commitments to the most important people and institutions in their lives are met, while preserving control over their affairs and property when they are alive and well.

Some of the issues that we can help you address in your estate plan include (but are not limited to):

• Leaving a legacy for future generations
• Creating a succession plan for your family business
• Philanthropic giving
• Protecting your spouse and other loved ones
• Establishing a special needs trust
• Preserving your family values, history and dynasty
• Estate & gift tax planning
• Ensuring that you are protected and your wishes are followed if you become ill, injured or mentally incapacitated
• Distributing your property & other assets
• Wills
• Living Will
• Durable Power of Attorney
• Living Trusts
• Irrevocable and revocable trusts
• Life insurance trusts
• Prenuptial agreements
• Financial and medical powers of attorney


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The Avanti Group Law articles:  Landlord & Tenant Matters

We represent both landlord and tenants in eviction proceedings. When a party to a lease violates the lease, you are at risk. Our West Michigan landlord/tenant law attorneys will take quick and effective action on your behalf. (

Eviction proceedings are precise and exacting. A small error can require starting the process again. If you have an eviction problem, our evictions attorney can help. (

For personalized legal services and effective representation, contact us.

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The Avanti Group Law articles In The Fight To Vindicate The Comfort Women

In The Fight To Vindicate The Comfort Women, Ordinary Americans Upstage U.S. Tokyo Ambassador Caroline Kennedy

Last month I recounted how a top U.S. law firm had agreed to help shadowy Japanese interests try to portray the so-called Comfort Women – the sex slaves grotesquely abused by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II – as no more than common prostitutes. As I pointed out, the case is totally toxic and no respectable law firm should have anything to do with it.  The article has generated nearly 90,000 clicks, 5,500 Facebook shares, and countless supporting comments.

Now comes news that the law firm at the center of the firestorm, Chicago-based Mayer Brown, is withdrawing from the case. As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News, pressure from outraged Forbes readers helped tip the balance. Mayer Brown was probably also reacting to coruscating criticism from such well-informed legal experts as Ken White, a prominent Los-Angeles-based criminal attorney, and Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer.

There is an important lesson here: although early hopes that the Internet would prove a powerful tool for good have been dashed, it still can be harnessed to further the cause of truth. In particular it can still help the ordinary decent American public win out at a time when many elite Americans have gone AWOL on Japanese neo-fascism.

This is where Caroline Kennedy comes in. The daughter of John F. Kennedy, she now serves as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Japan. Few Americans have ever enjoyed a greater opportunity to address latter-day Japan’s Jekyll and Hyde complex. Unfortunately she has evidently been persuaded – no doubt against her better instincts – to show “mutual understanding” on various contentious U.S.-Japan issues, not least recent outrageous suggestions that the Japanese may “apologize” for Imperial Japan’s treatment of the Comfort Women. In plain terms, she has been all but silent.

More about Caroline Kennedy in a moment. First let’s complete the point about Mayer Brown. The firm’s Los Angeles office was somehow persuaded to represent two Japanese-Americans who contend that they will suffer “irreparable injury” from “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger” if a statue in a park in Glendale, California is not removed. The statue was funded by Koreans and memorializes the Comfort Women’s rather more acute pain. The Japanese-Americans are joined in the suit by an organization called the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US.

Although it is, of course, not unusual for even the most respectable of U.S. law firms to press bogus lawsuits, two aspects of the Comfort Women suit have proved particularly embarrassing for Mayer Brown:

The involvement of the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US. Incorporated as recently as February 6, the alliance gives its address as a UPS office and is little more than a legal  fiction. The really controversial part is that its name has been evidently chosen so it would be confused with a very different entity, the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. This latter is a long-established, entirely respectable scholarly group founded by Chinese-American professors that is on the other side of the Comfort Women argument.

The toxic wording of the lawsuit. The essence of the suit is that the Comfort Women were common prostitutes. Here is the offending paragraph: “During World War II and the decade leading up to it, an unknown number of women from Japan, Korea, China, and a number of nations in Southeast Asia, were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners for troops of the Japanese Empire in various parts of the Pacific Theater of war. These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute.” This paragraph makes no concession to the incontrovertible historical fact – admitted even in a statement of apology by the Japanese government in 1993 – which thousands of innocent women forced into sexual servitude. In the case of Dutch women captured in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), a post-war court operating on Western rules of evidence sentenced one Japanese army officer to execution  and eleven Japanese citizens to imprisonment on Comfort Women allegations.

As for Caroline Kennedy, in late February she was handed a perfect opportunity to bring some intellectual honesty to the Comfort Women debate. This came when the New York Times, in an article headed “Japan to Revisit Apology to Wartime Sex Slaves,” reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was considering cancelling the 1993 apology. The report was published a week after Mayer Brown had filed the Glendale suit. While it would not have been appropriate for Kennedy to have criticized Mayer Brown directly, she could have announced that any move by Japan to “unapologize” would be viewed with dismay in the United States. The implications would have been hard for any decent person at Mayer Brown to overlook.

That said, we should not be too hard on Caroline Kennedy. No matter how capable and wise she may be (and no matter how many doors a famous name may open for her), she can do little without the support of embassy officials in Tokyo. Unfortunately most of her staff are, to put it politely, conscious apologists for the Japanese establishment. Their job, as they see it, is to tamp down American anger anytime anything provocative emerges from Japan. They reflexively oppose any instinct by an ambassador to stand up for truth and decency, and it would take a uniquely strong ambassador to ride roughshod over them.

This is not to say that U.S. ambassadors have not occasionally tried to break free of their minders. Indeed in a widely reported tweet in January, Kennedy protested Japanese cruelty to dolphins. For anyone who knows the Tokyo diplomatic world, however, Kennedy’s dolphin intervention is a case of “close but no cigar.” The difference between dolphins and Comfort Women is that the former don’t have relatives who might claim for massive compensation. In Tokyo money is what matters, and the U.S. embassy has for generations connived with the Japanese establishment in heading off all efforts by Imperial Japan’s victims and their families to seek monetary redress for World War II atrocities. Apart from the Comfort Women, other notable victims of this policy have been U.S. servicemen who have never received more than derisory compensation for brutal treatment in Japanese POW camps.

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The Avanti Group Law articles: Driving innovation, brand protection and growth

Building on the success of the 2013 IP Conference series, ALB held its inaugural Japan IP Conference on April 15, 2014, attracting more than 100 of Japan’s leading senior counsel, brand protection experts, IP managers and litigators to the heart of Tokyo’s Akasaka business district. Supported by Thomson Reuters IP & Science, Baker & McKenzie, UBIC, the Asia-Pacific IP Association, the Roppongi Bar Association, the Japan In-House Counsel Network and the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, the event conveyed ALB’s continued presence in Japan as an international media and knowledge platform bridging local, regional and global expertise.

Aligned with the Japan Patent Office’s (JPO) objective of “achieving the world’s fastest and highest quality IP system,” Commissioner Hideo Hato opened the conference explaining how international IP harmonization initiatives are embedded into the government’s Japan Revitalizations Strategy and the subsequent strengthening of the Design, Trademark and the Patent Attorney Acts.

The stretch of government keynotes continued with a presentation from one of ALB’s most loyal supporters, Director-General Peter Cheung of the HK IP Department. Cheung gave an update on the IP exchange initiative, reiterating the important collaboration efforts with government and industry leaders in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and across the region. He surprised delegates by concluding his speech with an impromptu song on IP monetization, hinting on his next career move after his impending retirement from the public sector this month.

The World IP Organization’s (WIPO) Japan representative Masaki Okamoto offered delegates an insight into Japan’s significant contribution to WIPO’s global services such as the free patent search system PATENTSCOPE or the CASE initiative, enabling the safe exchange of search and examination documentation related to patent applications. With the launch of the GREEN and Research projects, WIPO is also pioneering IP management as a means to sustainability and healthcare development.

WIPO’s inter-governmental guidelines were well complemented by the subsequent industry case studies.  Toyotaka Abe showed that Microsoft, as an owner of a large pool of patent rights, is the perfect example of how market leadership can be sustained in the technology field with the creation of clear IP transaction guidelines covering IP licensing, purchase and sale as well as the transfer of IP rights.

Another interesting group of sessions followed featuring government, industry and academic standpoints surrounding Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing. Professor Shuya Hayashi of Nagoya University pointed out the anti-competitive impact of patent hold-ups and royalty stacking using the Apple vs. Samsung case and advised against injunctive relief in case of FRAND litigation. Qualcomm’s vice-president of Patents, George Whitten, in turn, provided an overview of the ICT industry, arguing that while the issue exists, there is no substantial empirical evidence of the aforementioned patent infringements, neither of their adverse economic effects.

Commissioner Hiroyuki Odagiri of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has gave a detailed rundown on JFTC`s extensive work in reconciling reasonable IP monetization and innovation with fair competition practices. JFTC has pioneered the standardization of patent pool arrangements, guarding the fragile benefits of standard-setting including quicker product commercialization and customer convenience, while acting on antitrust concerns, the type of issues voiced by Whitten and Hayashi. This has been evidenced by JFTC’s numerous enforcement actions including the cases of the Pachinko Manufacturing Patent Pool’s, Hokkaido Shimbun Press’, Microsoft’s and Qualcomm’s monopolistic activities as well as the IP merger of the Tokyo Stock Exchange Group and the Osaka Stock Exchange.

Following a morning dominated by discussions surrounding hard IP, the afternoon focused on soft IP matters with an overarching theme of brand protection and anti-counterfeiting. In the digital piracy panel discussion, KT Ang of IFPI Asia gave an overview of the challenges faced by the global entertainment industry and the various counter piracy methods available to including advertising, litigation and website blocking. Joe Welch of 21st Century Fox took this one step further, arguing that the obsolete “notice and take-down” approach should be strengthened with the blocking of “overseas egregious rogue (pirate) sites” and downgrading and delisting penalties imposed by search engines. Using the examples of the EU and the cases of The Pirate Bay and Grooves hark, both Ang and Welch agreed that right holders should be able to apply for injunctive relief, essentially requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take blocking action without exposing them to liability to infringement.  Yoichiro Hata of the Recording Industry Association of Japan showed an even higher standard adopted by Japan with the Amended Copyright Law, which effectively criminalizes the act of downloading music and/or motion pictures with knowledge of the illegal nature of the source and legal pay-for alternatives.

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The Avanti Group Law articles: Getting Legal advice in Japan

A cut-out-and-keep guide to getting legal advice in Japan

April marked the start of the year for schools and many companies in Japan — a month when many newcomers from overseas arrive in the country, just in time for the cherry blossom season.

If you are one of these new arrivals, a lot will be fresh and unfamiliar, and that, unfortunately, applies to the problems you may face as well as the positive aspects of your new life here. Even long-term residents are not immune to complications related to their visa status, work, money, family and so on. With this in mind, I thought it would be timely to take this opportunity to share some tips on how to use legal services( ) in Japan.

First, the national and local tiers of government offer a range of free counseling services in English and other languages. The Immigration Bureau operates a number of regional Immigration Information Centers (see No. 1 below) that you can call for general information and “one-stop” information centers in Shinjuku (2); Urawa, Chiba Prefecture; and Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. These centers can offer advice on a variety of issues, not just those related to immigration.

If you believe your human rights have been violated, whether it is related to discrimination, bullying, defamation or privacy issues on the Internet, you may want to consult with the Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreigners (3). This service is also free.

If you work here, you are protected by Japanese labor law. If you have problems with wage payments, unfair dismissal or other employment-related issues, you can find information and advice at your nearest Labor Bureau (4).

Local municipalities also offer free consultation services. If you live in Tokyo, the links prepared by the Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners should be useful, as they show available consultation services in Tokyo at national, regional and local levels (5).

If you are interested in retaining a lawyer, there are a number of English-speaking attorneys at private firms. Even if you do not know any English-speaking lawyers, there are several local bar associations that provide legal counseling for foreigners at ¥5,400 (tax included) for 30 minutes with free interpretation (6). Some even provide a completely free service.

If your income is lower than a certain level, you are eligible for free legal advice( ) from the Japan Legal Support Center (7).

If you are a resident with mid- to long-term residential status and satisfy certain means-test criteria (8), you can receive a legal-aid loan to retain a lawyer for civil and family cases. Legal aid( ) is available as long as lawyers are contracted with the Japan Legal Support Center, and provided that they are willing to take on legal-aid cases. Even if you do not have a legitimate residential status, you may still be able to receive legal aid in some cases.

Regardless of your residential status, if you are unfortunate enough to be arrested, you can consult a lawyer once for free. In such a situation, you simply need to tell a police officer to call the duty attorney (tōban bengoshi) and the officer will contact a local bar association and get them to call a lawyer (9). The lawyer will bring an interpreter if you do not speak Japanese. A family member or friend of the arrested individual can also call a local bar association directly and ask them to send a lawyer.

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The Avanti Group Law articles: Tokyo lawmakers begin China visit amid tensions

A group of bipartisan Japanese lawmakers began their trip to Beijing on Sunday, with more delegations from Japan scheduled to visit China later this month.

The delegation members are expected to find remedies to boost communication between the two neighbors at a time when official contacts have hit a record low, observers said.

Masahiro Koumura, visiting vice-president of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, led the union delegation to Beijing for the three-day visit.

The delegation consists of lawmakers from the ruling coalition and the opposition, including Katsuya Okada, a senior member and former chief of the Democratic Party of Japan.

Former Chinese state counselor Tang Jiaxuan held a meeting on Sunday evening with Koumura, former Japanese foreign minister and now the president of Japan-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Union.

Tang said Beijing "places great priority" on Koumura's friendly visit when the ties are facing huge challenges. Koumura said he hopes the visit may help improve the relationship.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK said Koumura will seek a "breakthrough" for improving the relationship.

Bilateral ties were stalled after the Japanese government unilaterally announced the decision to "nationalize" part of China's Diaoyu islands in September 2012.

Sun Cheng, professor of Japan studies at China University of Political Science and Law, said the grudges between the two countries have expanded from the islands issue to an overall confrontation on a diplomatic level, which is "unlikely to be resolved in a short period of time".

"The ties may not be improved unless the relevant issues are properly addressed and disputes are appropriately managed," Sun said.

The diplomatic climate worsened after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pilgrimage to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine in December, which enshrines 14 Class-A war criminals.

Commenting on Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe's visit to China on April 24 and Koumura's trip, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Wednesday that Beijing "welcomes people from all walks of life in Japan, including figures from the ruling and the opposition parties, to play a positive role in improving the China-Japan relationship".

Read the Full Article here

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The Avanti Group Law articles: Gov't invest in Tokyo, Osaka port operators

Revised law enables gov't to invest in Tokyo, Osaka port operators

A bill to revise the Ports and Harbors Law was passed into law Wednesday to enable the government to invest in the operators of hub container ports in the Tokyo and Osaka areas with the aim of boosting their competitiveness.

Having seen large chunks of Japanese cargo to Europe and North America routed via South Korea's Busan Port, which has been wholly backed by the South Korean government, Japanese businesses have been calling on the government to get involved in running ports in the Tokyo and Osaka bay areas.

The operators of three ports in the Tokyo region -- Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki -- and those of two ports in the Osaka region -- Osaka and Kobe -- plan to integrate their management, and the government will then invest in the new firms.

The government will promote business investment in preparing facilities to handle cargo that will contribute to reducing operational costs and be involved in sales to attract domestic and foreign freight.

Under the revised law, the government can also provide non-interest-bearing loans into projects to introduce warehouses with distributive processing functions near the major ports and to reinforce the quake-resistance of privately owned seawalls.

Details of the government's involvement, including investment ratios, will be discussed later as Yoichi Masuzoe, governor of the Tokyo metropolitan government which supervises the Tokyo port, remains cautious about the state's participation.
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