Business Attorney

What You Need to Know About the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA)

23 May 2024

As a business owner, you may already have heard that the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) took effect on January 1, 2024. The CTA requires all entities formed or registered to do business in the United States to report beneficial ownership information to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) unless an exemption applies.

What’s the Purpose of the Corporate Transparency Act?

The Corporate Transparency Act was designed to increase transparency and combat tax fraud, money laundering, and other illegal activities. While the government can easily look into information on business structure and ownership of large corporations, there has been little to no transparency when it comes to small businesses. With over 27,000,000 small businesses without employees in the United States, this act aims to target these small businesses. 

Do You Need to File?

The CTA applies to most small businesses in the United States, including foreign companies that are registered to do business in the U.S. These types of businesses include limited liability companies, limited partnerships, business trusts, most general partnerships, and corporations created by filing a document with the secretary of state or similar office under their state law. 

There are several exemptions to the filing requirements, but we expect that the majority of our clients will be non-exempt reporting entities and will be required to file. Additional information, including filing instructions and a complete list of exemptions, is available here: Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting | FinCEN.gov.

What Information Does the CTA Require?

The act refers to owners of companies as “beneficial owners.” These are defined as any individuals who, either directly or indirectly:

  • Exercise substantial control over a reporting company, or
  • Own or control at least 25% of the ownership interests of a reporting company

Each such beneficial owner is required to report his or her name, date of birth, address, and an identifying document (such as a passport or driver’s license) as well as a photo of that document.

Are There Any Privacy Concerns? 

Although you are reporting personal information, this information will not be made publicly available. It is only going to be accessible by certain government agencies, financial institutions, and used for law enforcement, national security, and intelligence purposes. 

What are the Deadlines to File?

The deadlines for filing vary depending on when you started your business. There are three primary deadlines that you should be aware of. 

January 1, 2025:

All non-exempt entities formed before January 1, 2024, to comply with the reporting requirements need to file by January 1, 2025. 

Within 90 Days of Business Formation or Registration:

Any new non-exempt entities formed or registered to do business in the United States between January 1 and December 31 of this year must file within ninety days of the date of formation or registration. 

Within 30 Days of Business Formation or Registration:

Any new non-exempt entities formed after December 31, 2024, must file within 30 days of the date of formation or registration.

Do I Need to File Every Year?

No, this is a one-time filing, however, if there are any changes to the reported beneficial ownership, an amended report must be filed within thirty days of such change.

Are There Any Penalties for Noncompliance?

If you choose not to file or provide false information, you can be subject to fines and even criminal penalties. The CTA provides for civil fines of $500 per day and up to $10,000 per violation of the act. If you fail to comply or find yourself with multiple violations, you can face tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, the criminal penalty for violations of the act is up to two years of imprisonment.

What about the Recent Disputes about the Constitutionality of the CTA?

There have been some legal challenges to the CTA in recent months. On March 1, 2024, a federal judge in Alabama ruled that the CTA is unconstitutional. However, at this time, the ruling is limited to the plaintiffs in this particular case at issue (members of the National Small Business Association). Unless the Treasury Department announces that it will suspend CTA enforcement for all reporting entities (which it has not yet done), filings are still required. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update our clients in the event of any change in the reporting requirements.

Contact West Hill if You Have Questions 

While this new requirement may seem overwhelming at first, the best thing you can do is familiarize yourself with the CTA and reach out to a trusted legal professional if you have questions. We anticipate that we will be helping a majority of our clients file, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or require any assistance to comply with these new filing requirements.

Meet the Team: Jennica Holoquist

6 March 2024

In this series, we are introducing the West Hill Law team. We’re starting with Jennica Holoquist, a Business and Transactions Attorney who joined our team after graduating from Suffolk University Law School.

What areas of law are you most interested in?

In law school I was most interested in intellectual property, mainly trademarks and copyright, but since coming to West Hill, my interest and focus now includes business transactions and data privacy.

What drew you to West Hill?

A combination of the firm’s focus areas and company culture. I was excited that West Hill does IP work, which was my concentration at school. In addition, it handles other practice areas so I could expand my skills and knowledge base. I loved that the firm was a women owned business as I have always felt more comfortable and encouraged when being around women. As a young attorney, I was looking for the opportunity to be supported in my growth. I also really respected the mission of West Hill which is to provide effective and enthusiastic legal services to all our clients at competitive rates while respecting the needs of the legal staff.

How would you describe working at West Hill to a friend?

I often describe West Hill as a very collaborative work environment. The whole team is open to working together to put out the best work possible for all the clients. There is a good balance between having the space to bunker down and do the work on your own but also to run to a colleague and get their perspective on any issues. I would describe West Hill as open, dedicated, and encouraging.

What makes West Hill unique? 

The company culture makes West Hill unique. For example, I am someone who has struggled with asking for help which has the ability to hinder growth or efficiency.  At West Hill, that is not something I have to worry about. I can ask anyone here questions and they will be treated with understanding and responded to with care. In the short amount of time that I have been here, this has allowed me to grow as a lawyer and improve my client work. I will also add that the way West Hill cares about the clients is unique. Here you are not just another name on a file. West Hill does a great job of communicating with clients and really understanding both short and long term goals. The team helps clients plan for the best and most efficient way to reach those goals.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to dance, I did many different types of dance all the way through college. It’s something that brings me a lot of joy. I spend a lot of time with my dog Macfarlane mainly playing fetch (sometimes even in the house). I am also a big movie and television fan so I am always looking for something new to watch.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?

From a very young age, I wanted to be able to support others who did not have the ability or the knowledge to do something on their own. I would say that is another reason I really like working at West Hill, especially with start-ups. I get the chance to help people grow their businesses or protect their work in a way that they might not be able to without that guidance and support.

Contact Jennica Holoquist

Click here for more information and contact info for Jennica.

Attorney Spotlight: Louise Kennedy to present NSTC Program on How Non-Patent IP Protection Can Increase the Value of your Company

10 January 2024

Your company’s intellectual property may be one of your most valuable assets. But how do you go about protecting that asset? What intellectual property do you have in your business and how can you protect it? The North Shore Technology Council has invited Louise Kennedy, the West Hill Founder, to lead a program titled IP is Not Just Patents. Join Louise for a FREE lunch-hour zoom on Thursday, January 25th, from 12-1 pm. Register here today. Both NSTC members and non-members are welcome to attend.

This program will discuss how using copyright, trademark, and trade secret protection can increase the value of your company. Louise will also walk through the steps required to protect non-patent intellectual property assets. These include copyright and trademark filings, as well as company policies. The discussion will cover the role of contracts for routine business transactions in preserving these rights. Finally, Louise will walk through typical IP-related questions in M&A due diligence and why you should ask them or be prepared to answer them.

About the North Shore Technology Council

The NSTC hosts unique learning/networking events for innovators, entrepreneurs, service providers and career-seekers north of Boston – and beyondconnecting them with global experts across technology and the sciences – and each other – to build knowledge and foster collaboration that drives personal and business growth. Find out more about the NSTC and its membership here.

About Louise Kennedy

Louise Leduc Kennedy is the founding attorney of West Hill Technology Counsel. She has extensive experience advising technology companies on intellectual property and strategic matters. She is passionate about service agreements and ensuring her clients understand the legal jargon in their agreements so they are legally protected and positioned for growth. Louise loves working with innovative women and their entrepreneurial businesses.

Prior to forming the firm, Ms. Kennedy worked as in-house counsel at IBM Corporation for 9 years. During this time she supported the Global Sales and Distribution Group, IBM Business Consulting Services as well as the Lotus brand within IBM Software Group. Her responsibilities included the structure and negotiation of complex e-marketplace offerings as well as supply-chain management and e-procurement software alliances.

Louise received her B.A. in Economics from Smith College and her J.D., with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law. 

Attorney Spotlight: Boston magazine Selects Shehla Syed to 2023 Top Lawyers List

1 December 2023

West Hill is pleased to announce that Shehla Syed has been named to the Boston magazine Top Lawyers™ 2023 list. Shehla has been recognized for excellence in Intellectual Property Law. This annual accolade, initiated in 2021, is designed to highlight outstanding legal talent in the region. Attorneys have the opportunity to nominate their peers in specific areas of expertise, with the rankings determined through peer voting and an advisory board.

“I am honored to be named a Top Lawyer by Boston magazine alongside so many great peers also recognized on this year’s list,” said Shehla Syed.

Shehla has also been recognized by Best Lawyers (2023) and Super Lawyers (since 2019) in her areas of expertise.

Click here to view Shehla Syed’s listing.

About Shehla Syed

Shehla Syed is a West Hill Shareholder and IP Strategist specializing in Intellectual Property, Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Ms. Syed counsels clients onhttps://www.bostonmagazine.com/lawyers all aspects of their intellectual property – trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets – to help them maximize the value and enforceability of their content, brands and technology.

About Boston magazine Top Lawyers List

Click here to view the complete list of 2023 Top Lawyers. The December issue of Boston magazine featuring the highly anticipated 2023 Top Lawyers list is now available in print and online.

About West Hill

West Hill Technology Counsel is a boutique business and technology law firm. Providing proactive, practical legal advice to help solve problems before they arise. Our clients are new and growing businesses that create or leverage technology as a core part of their business model. 

Attorney Spotlight: Shehla Syed named to Super Lawyers 2023 edition

18 October 2023

About Super Lawyers

West Hill is pleased to announce that Shehla Syed was recognized by Super Lawyers® for Intellectual Property. Super Lawyers is an exclusive list of top-rated attorneys in specific practice areas who were selected after a thorough evaluation of numerous criteria. No more than five percent of attorneys in a state are named Super Lawyers.

“I appreciate the honor of being named a ‘Super Lawyer’, and congratulate my peers also recognized on this year’s list,” said Shehla Syed.

This marks the fifth consecutive year Shehla has been selected as an honoree in Massachusetts since 2019. Super Lawyers select attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research.

This marks the fifth consecutive year Shehla has been selected as a Super Layers honoree in Massachusetts since 2019

About Shehla Syed

Shehla is a West Hill Shareholder and IP Strategist specializing in Intellectual Property, Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. Ms. Syed counsels clients on all aspects of their intellectual property – trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets – to help them maximize the value and enforceability of their content, brands and technology.

Shehla is a member of the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts, the Boston Patent Law Association and the New England Muslim Bar Association, for which she was one of the founding members. Shehla has also served on the Community Ethics Committee at the Division of Medical Ethics of the Harvard Medical School which provides ethics feedback to Harvard teaching hospitals.

About West Hill

West Hill Technology Counsel is a boutique business and technology law firm. Providing proactive, practical legal advice to help solve problems before they arise. Our clients are new and growing businesses that create or leverage technology as a core part of their business model.

About Super Lawyers

For more information on Super Lawyers, a part of Thomson Reuters, click here.

West Hill Selected to Mass Lawyers Weekly Inaugural Empowering Women Awards List

7 August 2023

West Hill is proud to be recognized in the inaugural Empowering Women Awards list by Mass Lawyers Weekly. We congratulate fellow recipients for their shared commitment to the support and advancement of women in the legal community.

The Empowering Women Award recognizes a law firm’s commitment to hiring and promoting women, providing mentoring and opportunities for professional advancement to women attorneys, and establishing programs and policies to help women attorneys thrive professionally.

“We are both delighted and proud to be awarded this designation and recognized for our firm’s continued commitment to supporting and elevating women in the legal community,” said Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney, West Hill. 

A Better Way to Practice Law

West Hill was founded on and remains committed to hiring and professional development for women attorneys and support staff.  Louise Kennedy established West Hill in 2008, after working in the Boston office of a regional law firm and as in-house counsel at IBM. When Louise attended her 10th law school reunion, she was the mother of two daughters and was distressed to learn how many women in her class had abandoned the practice of law because the pressures of large firm practice were incompatible with the needs of a growing family. Louise was looking for a better way to practice law and allow attorneys to integrate their commitments to family. She created a cutting-edge law practice that is dynamic, challenging, and innovative.   

West Hill Values

Louise built a team of motivated and upbeat legal professionals looking for flexibility while still practicing law at a high level. West Hill values innovation, integrity, open and honest communication, and diversity. These values shape the positive and inclusive firm culture. West Hill believes – and clients have affirmed – that happy lawyers = happy clients.   

Certified Women-Owned Business

West Hill is a WBENC- and SBA-certified women-owned business actively redefining the concept of private law practice. Diverse hiring practices are important to West Hill and many of its clients.

Empowering Women Awards

For more information about Mass Lawyers Weekly and the Empowering Women Award list, click here.

The support and empowerment of women is a critical component of the West Hill vision and mission

Louise Leduc Kennedy to be Honored Among Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Top Women of Law

27 October 2022

West Hill is pleased to announce that our Founding Attorney, Louise Leduc Kennedy, was named to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 2022 Top Women of Law for her extraordinary achievements in the legal profession. This highly coveted honor celebrates the exceptional accomplishments of female attorneys as leaders, pioneers, educators, trailblazers, and role models.  

In 2008, Ms. Kennedy established West Hill, based on the simple premise that you need lawyers who understand and care about your business’ success. Louise is still passionate about helping entrepreneurs and growth-oriented businesses succeed and continues to cultivate a team of like-minded attorneys to support this vision.  

Louise is well-known for her work advising technology companies on a variety of strategic and commercial matters including: software licensing and commercialization, cloud computing, strategic alliances, preparing for and facilitating mergers and acquisitions and all aspects of on-line business and contracting.

Louise is an alumna of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and is a regular speaker at bar associations, the Salem State University Enterprise Center, the North Shore Technology Counsel, the Center for Women and Enterprise and other industry groups.  

Prior to forming the firm, Louise worked for many years as in-house counsel at IBM Corporation, including as brand counsel for Lotus Notes. She received her B.A. in Economics from Smith College and her J.D., with honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law. 

Louise and fellow award recipients will be celebrated at the Top Women of Law reception in Boston on Wednesday, November 16. 

The full list of 2022 Top Women of Law Honorees is available here.

Community Involvement: West Hill participates in Enterprise Center Technical Assistance Program for Salem Tourism Industry Businesses.

11 January 2022

West Hill was selected to provide professional services for participants in the Small Business Technical Assistance Services (SBTAS) Program at the Enterprise Center at Salem State University. This SBTAS Program is being offered to help tourism industry small businesses located in Salem, MA that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. It is funded by the City of Salem Department of Planning & Community Development and the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The Enterprise Center is an entrepreneurial hub that offers business owners office space, education, and access and connections to small business resources. Serving entrepreneurs on the North Shore and beyond, to help entrepreneurs and their businesses start, grow and succeed.

Louise Leduc Kennedy, Founding Attorney at West Hill feels that “after one of the toughest years on record for small businesses, those that have weathered the storm have pivoted to meet the moment. West Hill is proud to support local businesses by providing no-cost legal services through this innovative program and, as always, to supporting the Enterprise Center.”

West Hill has participated in and supported various Enterprise Center programs over the past decade including CEO Groups, the Million Dollar Women Symposium, Workshops, and previous SBTAS offerings. The West Hill Team looks forward to continuing to help community businesses through this travel and tourism initiative.

Attorney Spotlight: Jennifer Hoenig Selected to the Expert Team for USA 500 Small Business M&A Resources Roundtable

1 January 2022

Jennifer Hoenig was selected by USA 500 to serve on the expert team for the Small Business M&A Resources Roundtable. She is part of the team of professional service providers who specialize in the nuances of working with small business owners in M&A deals. USA 500’s vision for this Small Business M&A Resources Roundtable: “When small business owners contemplate a sale (or acquisition) of a business in the $500,000 to $3,000,000 price range, it is sometimes a lonely path forward. They rarely have an internal team in place ready to help them with the process; often they don’t have a skilled outside team ready to step in either. And yet, they need those resources at a very important time in their business…to turn [their] hard work into the liquid assets required to move forward into Phase II of their life. Passionate, patient, persistent professional resources are key to helping those successful small business owners close the deal.”

Click here, for information on West Hill’s M&A practice.