Build Your Business From the Ground Up, Post-Pandemic

Blog

Given the rise of “COVID-preneurs” (individuals who’ve decided to launch startups during the pandemic), here is a special guest post written by Chelsea Lamb at Business Pop!

The pandemic was a crisis that nobody ever thought would come to be. This crisis has also revealed a need for people to have a secondary means of income. Not only were numerous entrepreneurs confined to their homes, but a recession was bound to occur with the pandemic. Setting up a venture might be one of the best things you can do during this crisis, but it’s important to know how to get your business off the ground as we enter this promising post-pandemic phase.

Ensure You Have Financial Backup

Allocate a part of your savings toward necessities and emergency needs, but make sure to also set aside money to fund your business. Analyze the risk of incurring an overall loss and decide how much funding you need to allocate to your business to start — this way, your savings are still available for you to create an enterprise. You can also look into other funding options, such as business loans, angel investors, and so on. 

Research Your Product and Audience

Consider the possibility of creating and distributing your product or service — this means getting to know your offering’s sourcing and ecological imprint. For instance, if you make homemade goods, you need to know how long it takes to create each item. Also, if you source your product from a manufacturer, you need to know the complete process and reversal time from product design to distribution. Production time is an incredibly valuable investment for a business owner, so leave sufficient time to accomplish an adequate amount of customer orders while also making sure you don’t exhaust yourself with work. Besides analyzing what you offer, you should also find your audience to know whom you need to market to.

Draw the Marketing Aspect

Even before starting up, you need to develop a business plan encompassing the marketing strategies that best promote your product or service. Because we’re still fighting a global crisis, many businesses are on edge, with more than 40 percent of small businesses currently uneasy with their cash flow. However, as we approach the end of the pandemic, there are a few things you can do to improve your current and future sales.

Creating a business website will help you get noticed, look professional, and appeal to your audience as a serious venture. A website will also help sell your products and let people know your mission and philosophy, which will attract more customers. 

To show professionalism all the way through, consider hiring a graphic designer who will ensure that your website’s visual assets are attractive and fit for a successful marketing campaign. You can find countless freelance designers on online job platforms, so make sure to read reviews and compare delivery times and rates. Usually, freelance graphic design pricing sits somewhere between $15 and $35 per hour, but the costs may be higher if the professional has more experience and knowledge.

Improve Your Strategies

By enhancing the user experience on your website, you’ll get to build a successful company. Optimize your pages for use with mobile devices and desktop computers as people visit your website using both these means. Also, consider placing a live chatbox on your site for easily accessible customer support. Using SEO will make your business website more appealing to search engines like Google and enhance the number of clicks you receive.

If you’re only selling your products on your site, consider selling them on other platforms, too, such as Amazon. The website is well-recognized by consumers, and many people worldwide are shopping from there — it would be incredibly advantageous to have your products listed on its pages. Another strategy you can use and later improve is the automation of the sales system — this will allow you and your staff to focus on more important aspects, including content creation and advertising projects.

The Bottom Line

A crisis may seem like a challenging and risky time to run a business, but it is actually a good time to start. By using these techniques, you can get started on the right foot and increase the chances of your venture not only succeeding now but also into the future.

If you need help with cover letters, resumes, and other similar pieces of content or translation into and from Spanish and French, connect with Lauryn today.

A Lesson on Love from Malcolm and Marie

Blog

Malcolm and Marie is a new film on Netflix starring Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) written and directed by Sam Levinson. I applaud the film’s creativity– a two character film shot in a 35mm black and white frame. It is gorgeous and captivating to see. However, the depth of the dialogue falls short resting heavily on a criticism of Hollywood, the film industry and of course, film critics.

I found myself falling for the characters but not really sure who to root for. From the beginning, we are thrust into an uncomfortable tension between a young Hollywood couple.

Marie, a former actress and recovering drug addict, is frustrated yet indifferent when Malcolm forgets to thank her in his speech at his movie premiere. Marie and Malcolm then proceed to use the historical precedent of their relationship to evidence the love, indifference, support and chaos they’ve both endured. The characters fight with veracity using cruel and uncomfortable language. This ultimately augments the dangerous consequences of disrespect and manipulation in personal relationships.

Relationships are a juicy topic so let’s dive in. What has COVID-19 taught us about relationships? A variety of sources reveal the pandemic has presented a “perfect storm” when it comes to relationships. Some are focusing on building a family and improving their mental health. While others have moved-in together after a couple of months of dating. Some couples got engaged, while others filed for separation or divorce. At first glance, this doesn’t seem particularly special. You can say this all happened before the pandemic. You’re right. But within the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in “corona-cuffing,” “accelerated relationships” and shocking separations within a short amount of time.

During times of confinement, it is imperative to put communication on the forefront of our relationships. Throughout the film, Marie struggles to reveal what she really wanted. She wanted to be casted in Malcolm’s film, but the film implies she failed to make the effort. She wanted her efforts to be recognized but perhaps this personal value was not communicated earlier in the relationship. Malcolm merely wants to celebrate his big moment. After receiving constant praise at the premiere, he feels the fruits of his labor are finally paying off. He wants to take this moment to celebrate with the girl he loves. But, he is unable to see how his actions have forced Marie into a mental state of indifference and resentment.

When we take on anything in life, we need support. And for Marie and Malcom, the film projects a downward spiral of miscommunication, ignorance and blinding emotion. People often project our preferred method of support onto others and ignore the fact that different methods of support are needed in different stages of our lives. I am not a relationship expert by any means. However, this movie piqued my curiosity and invited me to explore how our life stages influenced the support we need.

What I found is that there are very distinct methods of support for different stages of our lives. Some scientists found men and women go through different life stages of development. [1] For Malcolm, it appears he is in the “building” stage of this life where he is determined to make a name for himself. His whole self is pouring his energy into his craft and that amount of energy doesn’t leave much for more. It is not that he’s lazy or indifferent as Marie sees it. He is just developing his professional sense of self. While Marie, recovering for her past, is looking for the appreciation she never received before. She is possibly looking for words of affirmation from Malcolm. [2]

Overall, I am upset with this film because it disrupts and taints our views of relationships. I believe if we looked at relationships with a curious rather than confrontational eye, we will find more love, understanding and reasons for our behaviors. Or maybe I should exhibit a fierce passion to question and challenge others. What do you think?

As I end this post, I wanted to leave with you a quote from a book I am currently reading,

“. . .we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”

Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient

Until next time,

Lauryn

Sources

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2990527/

[2] https://www.5lovelanguages.com

File First, Litigate Later? Procedural Fencing explored in Epic Tech, LLC v. Arno Res., LLC

Blog, Law and Entertainment

Vince Lombardi, the famed NFL Coach already knew this when he stated, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Well, when it comes to the Fifth Circuit, it does not favor races to the courthouse.

The parties and predecessors in this case have been engaged in various disputes regarding a gaming software agreement (Software Agreement) since the early 2000s. In August of 2004, Custom Games Design (Games Design) and Gateway Gaming, LLC (Gateway) entered into the Software Agreement. Here, Games Design agreed to develop games and give Gateway a license to use its proprietary software (Software). If Gateway refused to make payments, hire current Games Design employees, or solicit Games Design employees within 180 days of termination, the Software Agreement was terminated. 

By February of 2017, the original parties to the Software Agreement had dramatically altered. Gateway dissolved in January of 2013 transferring its assets to Epic Tech, LLC; Winter Sky, LLC and Frontier Software Systems, LLC (collectively referred to as Epic Tech). While Gaming Design entered into a licensing agreement with Arno Resources (Arno) granting, conveying and assigning all of its rights, title and interest to Software including the right to bring suit arising out of its misuse. 

In May of 2013, Arno’s legal counsel sent a demand letter to Epic Tech alleging unauthorized use of the Software.  Although the demand letter asserted Arno would pursue all remedies available both at law and equity, it also noted a potential discussion surrounding settlement possibilities.

Instead of replying to Arno’s demand letter by May 22, 2020, Epic Tech replied with a declaratory judgement action in Travis Country District Court. In its action, Epic Tech argued the Software Agreement terminated December 31, 2005; Gateway previously purchased rights to all Software development, and Arno’s claims were released by a previous settlement agreement.[1] In an effort to preserve its rights, Arno filed suit in the Northern District of Georgia alleging violations to the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, civil conspiracy, and aiding and abetting a breach of contract through fraud and injunctive relief. [2]

Arno opines the court should use its discretion to dismiss Epic Tech’s action under the anticipatory exception to the first-to-file rule. By filing an action after receipt of a demand letter, Arno proclaims Epic Tech’s suit was improperly filed and deprived Arno of its chosen forum. Epic Tech protests noting its efforts were merely to eliminate a baseless claim under Texas law and the first-to-file rule should apply. Under the Federal Declaratory Judgement Act (Act), a federal court may declare rights and other legal obligations of any interested party (28 U.S.C. §2201(a)).  Under the Act, Congress creates an opportunity, not a duty, to grant appropriate relief to qualifying litigants. 

When two cases are pending before two federal courts, the first-to-file rule states the subsequent case may be dismissed if the issues raised by the cases substantially overlap.[3] Cases do not have to be identical. Rather, substantial overlap exists when the core issue is the same or if a majority of the evidence brought would be identical.[4] The Fifth Circuit generally notes the court where the action was first filed is appropriate when the subsequent case filed involves substantially similar issues.  However, the Fifth Circuit will deviate from the first-to-file rule when a declaratory judgment is filed in anticipation of a suit, creating an opening for forum shopping and depriving a potential plaintiff of their chosen forum (the Anticipatory Filing Exception). 

To apply the Anticipatory Filing Exception, the court looked to Paragon[5] where the court failed to apply the first-to-file rule when a party filed a declaratory action in lieu of responding to a demand letter. Similarly, the court did not apply the first-to-file rule in Bedrock Logistics [6] when a party filed a suit in federal court four days after receiving a settlement offer. Here, Arno’s pre-suit demand letter enclosed a draft of a yet to be filed Georgia complaint  if the case was not settled and noted the possibility of discission settlement options. The court did not find evidence of Epic Tech engaging in improper or abusive tactics. Even so, the court found Epic Tech’s declaratory judgement was anticipatory and deprived Arno from filing suit in the Northern District Court of Georgia. 

Although Epic Tech was the first to file in their respective district court, this case shows “winning doesn’t always mean being first.” [7]


[1] Epic Tech v. Arno Resources, D-1-GN-20-02870 (261st Dist. Ct., Travis County, Tex. May 29, 2020). 

[2] Arno v. Epic Tech, No 1:20 CV-2540-CAO (N.D. Ga. June 17, 2020).

[3]  Cadle Co. v. Whataburger of Alice, Inc., 174 F.3d 599, 603 (5th Cir. 1999).

[4] Int’l Fid. Ins. Co. v. Sweet Little Mexico Corp., 655 F.3d 671,678 (5th Cir. 2011). 

[5] 2008 U.S. Dist. Lexis 6565, 2008 WL 3890495 at *1-5

[6] 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65432, 2017 WL 1547013, at *5

[7] Bonnie Blair 

A new mission inspired by The Wire

Blog, TV Shows

The trajectory of Reel Review by Lauryn has reached a bifurcation point.

Let me back up. . . hello! How are you? Yes, I know it has been a hot minute. I have my reasons (is it too soon to blame 2020)?

I am so excited to share this new found sense of purpose with you all. I have truly enjoyed writing film and television reviews and plan to continue. After months of reflection something in my mind was telling me to do more. As cliché or cheesy as it sounds, I have been looking for a way to work both collaboratively and independently to analyze scenes in film and make connections to educational topics such as history, psychology, or statistics. Pairing film with literature to make a difference now sits at the core of Reel Review by Lauryn. With this,

Reel Review by Lauryn has a new mission: to advocate, promote and increase literacy of others through film and television.

This mission flourished after I completed my first assignment of the new year. During the course of the semester, my classmates and I are tasked to analyze the social, moral and political perspectives of the criminal justice system through the HBO series The Wire. I find this non-conventional pedagogical method has really enhanced my appreciation for both literature and film. Now, I want to explore it with a community I share the deepest connection with: fellow students. In 2021, Reel Review by Lauryn has a new goal: to connect with local communities to advocate and promote literacy through film and television.

Very excited to launch this new initiative. Would love to hear your comments, thoughts and suggestions. If you have any films I should start with please share in the comments below 🙂

As a treat, here is the assignment that started it all:

** This assignment contains spoilers for the first three episodes of The Wire.

The origins of The Wire play on a careful balance between revenge and compassion. In essence, The Wire is David Simon’s literary version of a “revenge body.” Out of disappointment, betrayal and anger, David Simon pours all his efforts into creating something that will make The Baltimore Sun, his “ex,” regret every action they’ve ever made. Although its original origins may stem from anger, this “revenge” product ends up showing compelling compassion for vulnerable populations who receive the harsh realities of capitalism and chasing the American Dream in Baltimore.

The Wire’s debut didn’t have much commercial success. But are we really surprised? Everything truly great is never liked the first time, the world isn’t ready for it. Especially when the HBO subscription based audience is “composed of (comparatively) affluent, middle class, white Americans” [1] in 2002. Friends and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation were the two topped ranked television programs in the United States. The Wire was a different breed of television. 

I laughed when commentators celebrated the “equal image rights of both criminals and police.” [2] The writer’s room for The Wire must have been the best. I imagine the atmosphere to be similar to the office of Rhonda Pearlman. Messy, filled with loose papers and a disorganized pile of previous novels from Mr. Lehan or Mr. Pelecanos. Or perhaps the writers room had a stack of  old Baltimore Sun newspapers in the middle of the table with red circles on the stories that would inspire the next episode. Or possibly red Xs over stories that shook David Simon to his core. A red X on a news headline that finally made him realize that he was tired of merely reporting real life. It was time for him to create a story to tell the world. Afterall, “when you write for a TV show like The Wire you’ve got three to four million readers watching your work. Even Grisham doesn’t sell that many books.”[3]

Writing a living novel is every writer’s dream. Each frame is used like a page to push the story along. Each progression closer and closer to piercing the veil between reality and fiction. We look to the television to tell us stories. But more importantly, we look for answers.  I can see a female audience member looking to solve her troubles with an ex-boyfriend through the uncommitted and steamy relationship between Rhonda Pearlman and Detective McNulty. Of course, I wouldn’t follow it. But it’s TV, and the uncertainty we have in MUST be satisfied on screen.

Let me get back to the show. Who do you call the worst cop who graduated from the police academy? A cop. No, it’s “a Pryzbylewski.”

The city of Baltimore is selfish. It’s filled with its own illnesses of racial discrimination, poverty and corruption. Baltimore selfishly conceals the hypocrisies of society that make it impossible for an outsider to relate to its harsh realities. Unfamiliarity takes my hand and gently walks me away from these realities. I am detached from it. This is why The Wire couldn’t be a documentary or another book voluntarily bought by someone who’s interest is piqued by a creative cover or criminal justice reform. David Simon did it right. The Wire needs to be a show so everyone ­– including the HBO subscriber audience ­– can swallow the history of Baltimore while being distracted by attractive actors, lighting, makeup and wardrobe. 

These people need to feel real to us. I need to hate Pryzbylewski and Herc. I can’t stand them. Pryzbylewski betrayed me when he blinded a 14 year old boy in a desperate attempt to assert his dominance to make up for his mediocrity at his job. I need to appreciate the unconventional genius of Bubbles and his “red hat” routine to help Kima Greggs identify key players in the low risers. When this happens, Unfamiliarity walks away and compassion, love and understanding sit with me on the couch as I view the next episode with a hot cup of tea. 

There is more to say. The adversarial criminal justice system in the United States force defendants to rely on an attorney to defend them even if they act like Maurice Levy, hitting his client after referring to him as “you people.” That was the one time where I physically acted in disgust toward a character. I immediately thought to myself, this show is too good. 

David Simon doesn’t function like a doctor writing a prescription to cure Baltimore’s illnesses. Simon is more of a researcher. He discovering the root of these issues using critical observation, took detailed notes and presented it to the world. He did it right. He stopped dictating the world around him and created his own novel using television. 


[1] The Wire Urban Decay and American Television (9) 

[2] REVISIONS, Now on TV, Drug Dealers and Gravity Mafia Dons 

[3] The Television Show that Thinks it’s a Novel

Cheers to a brighter 2021,

Lauryn

What’s In Your Cosmetic Products?

Blog, Law and Entertainment, Lifestyle

“. . . the urge to decorate ourselves is one of the most fundamentals instincts of human nature” [1]

When completing my Master of Science in Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, I wrote a demand for change regarding Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on cosmetics. Cosmetics, according to the FDA, include makeup, moisturizers, hair dyes, straighteners, and removers, perfumes, colognes and nail care products. Some of these products are ones that I use everyday. Before I wrote this paper, I was fascinated (and still am) with the power and influence the beauty industry has on women and girls.

I LOVE beauty products. Considering I recently went to Sephora, this is a perfect time to introduce you three of my latest products. First, the Clinique: Take the Day Off is ESSENTIAL for anyone who wears makeup. This is an oil based makeup remover that leaves your face super soft and clear of any residue. If you are wondering if your makeup remover wipes are better, they aren’t. This is the sh*t and this little size is just $10. That’s less than a manicure people, so pull out your card and buy it already.

Second, one of my friends recommended I get the Grande Lash- MD lash enhancing serum. Actually it wasn’t a friend friend. Rather someone I met talking at the grocery store. Quarantine really has me lacking in human interactions so I talk to people any chance I get. Her judgment was on point. I have been on a quest for more bold and beautiful lashes (can you blame me?!). I usually get my beauty advice from my friends in medical school, so the MD in the title makes it looks hella official. . . I’m into it.

Confession time: The Moroccan Oil Body Polishing Scrub is a free sample, but it has grown to be one of my absolute FAVORITES. I feel very refreshed and it leaves your skin super smooth. . . no complaints here.

ANYWAY, I got lost in a cosmetic wonderland. Back to my paper.

I wanted to write something that touched my life and could potentially make an impact on others and how we view everyday cosmetics. As a disclaimer, this paper was written in 2018. Some sources and statistics used may be outdated. However, its message remains as a powerful reminder to uphold the integrity of the beauty industry through proper regulation of products.

Hope you enjoy!


The cosmetic industry is expected to reach 130 billion dollars in global sales by 2019 [2]. Its success is attributed to its flexibility. The cosmetic industry, driven by the preoccupation with youthful image and aesthetics, is timeless and continuously shaped by social trends and identity. Usage of cosmetics and personal care products function to redefine gender lines, push global boundaries, and positively influence self confidence. These aspects promote evolution, but allow the cosmetic industry to feed off of a self-regulatory structure. It is essential to modernize FDA’s statutory authority over cometic products because its current self-regulatory framework presents significant problems in establishing safety and guidelines for consumers. Modernizing FDA authority over cosmetics with an Act that enforces (1) pre-market testing procedures, (2) ingredient safety assessments and (3) a centralized cosmetic database will provide uniformity of products and standards while protecting consumers worldwide. Examining and enforcing these updates to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 will require a comparison and adoption of regulations set forth by the European Union (EU) Cosmetic Directive.

Is There A Cosmetic Regulation Or Just An Illusion?

“In regulating cosmetics, the agency functions like a highway patrolman. . . the FDA regulation of cosmetics is entirely ex post.” [3]

The 1930s sparked a dramatic expansion of cosmetic products in the marketplace, allowing many consumers to assume there was protection where none existed. The disparity between regulatory reality and consumer presumptions provided to be dangerous especially when cosmetic products began harming consumers. Cuticle removers removed both fingernails and cuticles, mascara’s binding ingredient was rat poison and other personal products consisted of acetone, formaldehyde and mercury. [4] Publicizing these stories gained publicity and propagated the formation of the 1938 Act. Lack of updating the 1938 Act leaves consumers blindly trusting cosmetic companies with their products with no pre-market testing procedures. In a multi-billion dollar industry, citizens should prioritize the safety and function of the cosmetic industry. Although publicized media should be used as a political agent, solely relying on this method is not effective to change legislation.

Modernizing the current statute will allow the FDA to actively oversee the safety of cosmetic products before entering the marketplace. Despite myths, harmonizing the cosmetic industry promotes the same goals as a self-regulatory system: autonomy, growth and entrepreneurship. Valued at 74 billion euros in 2016, the EU cosmetic market thrives under regulation, making it the largest in the world. [5] Pre-market surveillance will shift consumer safety as the primary objective. Testing the chemical structure, level of exposure and an analysis of product safety based its application (ie. lips, scalp, eyes) [6] will hold the industry accountable for its actions. Building trust through actions rather than assumptions will yield greater economic equity while promoting consumer advocacy.

Trustworthy Ingredients

The U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) is an independent non-profit organization responsible for reviewing active cosmetic ingredients and assessing their conditions for use. After its establishment 1976, the FDA refused to create a federal safety assessment program for cosmetic ingredients. Although CIR is financed by the cosmetic industry, scientists are independent academics who are prohibited to work for a cosmetic company. Configuration of this organization was designed to promote a sense of collaboration between the public, government and the industry. Sure, research done by CIR can help mitigate concerns but, it fails to establish any legal obligation for cosmetic firms. Still, the 1983 Act does not require “premarket testing, premarket notification, premarket approval, or any other form listing [ingredient] registration.” [7]

Failure to adequately check substance prior to market places profits over people, promoting capitalistic reputation over the protection of consumers. The products that all citizens use everyday are put on the market until they are caught deceiving customers by claiming “all-natural” products despite their use of harmful synthetics, designing shampoos that cause hair loss or promoting “Drinkable Sunscreen” with healing properties. [8] Updating the 1938 Act with an ingredient selection approved and recorded by the FDA will not eliminate trust between consumers and cosmetic firms. Instead, it will provide a centralized ingredient standard that enables a clear safety evaluation of cosmetic ingredients before it can potentially harm consumers.

Solutions for an Innovative Industry

The FDA set the standards for the beauty industry in 1938. Since then, the cosmetic industry has transformed, updated and evolved with the progression of technology. The rapid globalization of the cosmetic industry has encouraged the development of advancing technologies. This shift in global perspective requires companies to change their business plans, and justify modernization of the cosmetic regulatory structure. Technologically advanced skincare products can now function as illegal new drugs, and filtered through the cosmetic industry distinguished as “advanced skin care products.”

The regime of self regulation has grown out of its historical origins. The emergence of the beauty industry has become an empire and the FDA’s reliance on self-regulation places burden on consumers to be informed, vigilant and aware to safeguard their own health. Self regulation can be more effective when cosmetic industry players are more transparent with their consumers with detailed information about safety testing and the standards used. Establishing a pre-market surveillance procedure, ingredient assessment and a centralized database will provide a robust, internationally recognized standard that enforces product safety while catering to technological developments in the cosmetic industry.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I understand we are at a moment in time where we are constantly in a delta of change. Sure, the lack of cosmetic regulation allows anyone to open up a cosmetic line. . . but at what cost? Should we continue to place the responsibilities of cosmetics on companies or should we have more regulation? Will more regulation ensure the safety of cosmetic products?

Until next time,

Lauryn


[1] Lindy Woodhead, War Paind: Madame Helena Rubensteing and Miss Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Theiir Times, Their Rivarly 10 (2003)

[2] Forbes Magazine

[3] Richard, Merill, Science for Judges II: the Practice of Epidemiology and Administrative Agency Created Science: FDA Regulatory Requirements as Tort Standards (2004).

[4] Examples of Cases from the FDA “Chamber of Horrors: complied to amend the 1906 that would five jurisdiction over the beauty industry.

[5] Cosmetic Europe: The Personal Care Association

[6] EU Cosmetic Regulation

[7] Petr Barton Hutt, A History of Government Regulation of Adulteration and Misbranding of Cosmetics in Cosmetic Regulation in a Competitive Environment

[8] “Drinkable Sunscreen”: Osmisis LLC and Harmonized Water LLC located in Iowa claimed that they have treated water in order to have “amazing medicinal or cosmetic properties,” including the abilities to “protect against cancer causing UV rays, repel mosquitos that might carry the Zika virus.” Source” Dietary Supplemental & Cosmetics Legal Bulletin, Issue 48. March 2017.

What’s Your Eat Pray Love?

Blog, Lifestyle

This unprecedented time could be jaded with negative connotations of illness, unemployment and uncertainty. However, many of us are taking this as an opportunity to rise to our own occasion.

Exercising, learning a new skill, and more sleep and are a few aspects of life people have been trying to improve on during the pandemic. However, I wanted to take it a step further so I re-read the book Eat Pray Love while relaxing in the sun this past weekend.

There are a few reasons I keep coming back to this book. For one it is a self discovery book and I love that shit. You won’t believe how many self help books I have read over the years. Trust me, there are more blog posts to come.  I believe there is always an opportunity to provide good in this world. Why not start with yourself?

Second, I love the aspect of learning from the environment around you. When I learned Spanish in Argentina, I thought it was amazing to immerse myself in the culture and rhythm of the city while learning a new language.

Of course now, more than ever, I am dreaming of travel. But since I can’t go to India, Indonesia or Italy (the three locations in the book), I figured I come up with my own version of Eat Pray Love from home.

Kitchen: Building a healthy relationship with food.

Before quarantine, I thought spending time in the kitchen was a bit overrated. I often meal prepped the same meals, not really interested in expanding my knowledge about cooking in general. Well, I hate to admit it but this is still the case.

HOWEVER, I have enjoyed the idea of spending time with my love ones over the dinner table. Although I have to resist opening my fridge 100  ten times a day out of boredom. Without numerous distractions in our daily life, I started to peel back the onion to understand my relationship with food. Food is more than a foundation to support our body’s basic growth, development and function. Rather, sitting around the table and enjoying food has many symbolic meanings for love, friendship, family, helps us cope with stressful moments, and unites people together. 

Outside: Staying Active and Getting Sun

This is is self explanatory, but I have found it imperative to get some sun at least once a day. Most of the time, I walk around the block and act like I’m working out while listening to pump up music. No matter how you get it, spending at least 10 minutes out in the sun will boost your vitamin D absorption which can uplift your health and well being. Plus it gets my lazy ass off the couch. . . which is always a win. . . and who doesn’t like winning? 

A Night In: Take Time for Reflection

Although we all may be getting into the swing of quarantine by now, it is never too late to start with self-reflection. I have also found writing these blogs and doing journals as an excellent source of self-reflection. When your ideas are put on paper, you can clearly see what you want. Sometimes I let my thoughts run along the page with no restrictions or judgment. This time to be vulnerable and open with yourself can be liberating and relaxing.

We are more than half way through the year. If there is something that you want to change, start a business, move to a new place or improve your finances– now is the time to do it. It is never too late to make a change in your life. 

I hope you enjoyed my version of Eat, Pay, Love. . . what’s yours? Would love to hear about it in the comments below or send me an email at reelreviewbylauryn@gmail.com 

Until next time,

xoxo Lauryn 

Video Games and the Law

Blog, Law and Entertainment

There’s a lot of extra time to play video games. I think I have spent the past couple of days playing Super Smash Bros. . . in fact I am playing some right now. . .

Before quarantine I wasn’t familiar with Fornite, NBA 2k or any other video game. However, it might be the end of live sports games for a while so I figured I’d grab my own personal controller and see what things are all about.

At the intersection of law and this new found love entertainment comes an exciting case out of North Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle of the Eastern Division of North Carolina held Michael Heidbreder must proceed his case by arbitration pursuant to the End User License Agreement (“EULA”) with Fornite developer, Epic Games.

Michael Heidbreder, a Missouri resident filed a punitive class action alleging Epic Games’ vulnerable security allowed hackers to charge fraudulent in-game purchases to his debit card between November 2018 and January 2019. Heidbreder brought both statutory and common law claims including negligence, breach of implied contract and violation of state consumer-protection and data-breach statutes.

In October, Epic Games moved to compel Heidbreder’s claims to arbitration, pursuant to the EULA. Features to the arbitration provision include: “ (1) an agreement to arbitrate on an individual basis only; (2) delegation clause granting the arbitrator the power to determine whether a specific dispute is governed by the arbitration clause; (3) a venue selection clause giving user the choice of venue between their home state or North Caroline; (4) Epic Games’ agreement to pay arbitration fees under $10,000, share costs after $10,00 and not seek attorney fee’s against users and (5) a 30 -day opt-out provision, giving users a 30 day window after agreeing to the End User License Agreement to opt out of arbitration provision.”

Heidbreder presented three compelling, yet unsuccessful arguments.

First, he asserts his minor son lacked contractual capacity to agree to the EULA. Judge Boyle rejected this argument noting “under the basic principles of principal-agent law” his son acted as Heidbreder’s agent giving him both actual and apparent authority to agree.

Second, Heidbreder argues privacy related matters are outside the scope of arbitration. According to common law, when the parties contract delegates the arbitrability question too an arbitrator, a court may not override the contract.” Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., 139 S. Ct. 524, 529 (2019). Therefore, the arbitrator, rather than the court, determines the scope of these provisions.

Lastly, Heidbreder claims the class action waiver, arbitration clause and class action clause are unconscionable because Epic Games is applying the agreement retroactively. Judge Boyle acknowledges yet quibbles Heidbreder’s last argument noting the terms at issue “are common terms in modern contracts that have been recently sanctioned by the courts and can hardly be considered substantively unconscionable.”

This case appears to be successful for Epic Games. However, this “game” could face a turn for the worse if parents stop allowing their children to make in-game purchases using their credit card information. However, with extending stay-at-home orders and uncertainty about school returning in the fall, I highly doubt this would happen.

What’s your favorite video game during COVID-19?

Until next time,

Lauryn <3

How to WOW an Admission Committee for College or Graduate School

Blog, Confessions of a College Girl

When it comes to applying to schools, your essay boost your application significantly. Crafting a personal statement has galvanized me to take on new opportunities and I am fortunate to have prospered at UCLA, in my Masters at Northwestern and law school.

Yes I am a perpetual student and I wouldn’t change it for the world. With just a personal statement I’ve gone from a high school student to a law student published in the International Heart and Lung Transplantation Journal, legal newsletters, an upcoming article in The Washington Post, and my own fiction novel.

My mission is to increase the access of higher education to you. More importantly, I want to share the same love and excitement I had when I got into school. You can get into college, law school, medical school, off the waitlist or transfer to the university meant for you 🙂

One of my clients emailed me recently after working with him on his Letter of Continued Interest (LOCI). He had been waitlisted at a law school and reached out to me for guidance and editing. After our session here’s what he had to say:

My Application Package includes:

  • Personal Statement
  • Secondaries/ Supplemental applications
  • Resume editing

I believe in creating and offering people equal access to college and graduate school.

Wanna be a nerd too?

Email me at reelreviewbylauryn@gmail.com to book with me and get started.

Now is the best time. . . it’s not like you have anything else to do #quarantine.

Until next time,

Lauryn 🙂

THANK YOU :)

Blog

Heyy heyy

Wanted to give you a HUGE thank you for following Reel Review! The family is 100 members strong! Appreciate all the love, support and friendly comments.

Writing has become a large part of my life. So happy you enjoy my articles after I Netflix and Chill .

You’re all my motivation. It makes me smile reading all of your comments and I am happy to write on my favorite topic: film and television.

Thank you for being the best! Happy quarantine.

Until next time,

Lauryn <3

BUY ME COFFEE

Like what you read? Donate $5 to buy me coffee so I can have the fuel I need to keep producing great content! If you want to give more, feel free to up the quantity (: No Pay Pal, no worries! Click directly on your branded credit card, gift card or debit card logo and donate as a guest! If any problems arise, send an email to reelreviewbylauryn@gmail.com and you can donate through Square, Inc.

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Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American-Owned Media

Blog, Law and Entertainment

Earlier this year the Supreme Court issued its opinion about a racial discrimination case. The justices decided this case by a 9-0 vote.

Bryon Allen, entrepreneur and owner of Entertainment Studios Network (ESN) sought to have Comcast carry its channel. Comcast rejected this proposition, claiming bandwidth constraints and lack of demand for ESN programs. ESN alleged Comcast violated §1981(a), a statute that guarantees “all persons… the same right…to make and enforce contracts… as is enjoyed by white citizens.” The District Court dismissed the complaint for failing to show Comcast would have contracted with ESN, but-for racial motivations. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, holding ESN had a viable claim because it only needed to show race played a “sole role” in Comcast’s decision-making. In order for ESN to seek redress, it must demonstrate that, but for Comcast’s unlawful conduct, its alleged injury would not have occurred. These essential elements must stay constant through the life of the lawsuit.

In a slightly fractured unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held, that to prevail, a plaintiff must initially prove that but for race, it would not have suffered the loss of a legally protected right. Justice Gorusch acknowledged but rejected ESN’s argument that §1981 creates an exception to proving but-for causation and essential elements of a claim do not need be constant throughout the lawsuit. ESN further claims that it should overcome at least a motion to dismiss if it can plausibly show race was a determining factor in the decision. Instead, Gorusch reasoned that, statutory language along with past precedent, suggest §1981 follows the general rule. Statutory language of §1981 guarantees equal rights enjoyed by white citizens and nothing in the statute signals this test should change when confronted with a motion to dismiss. Gorusch’s examination of legal precedent and neighboring provision §1982 reveal that courts have interpreted “because of race” to be associated with but-for causation. ESN asks the court to rely on the “motivating factor” test in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with no avail. The Court reasons ESN mistakenly misplaces a process-oriented right with the motivating factor test. Thus, the court vacated the judgement of the court of appeals and remanded the case to determine the sufficiency of ESN’s pleadings under the correct legal rule.

 In a four-page opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, Ginsburg agreed but quibbled that racial violation under §1981 protects the right “to make and enforce contracts” which includes the manner in which the contract is carried out. Therefore, if race accounted for Comcast’s conduct during the contract-formation process, it should not escape liability for those injuries.

The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff alleging racial discrimination in contracts must show that the plaintiff’s race was the actual cause of the alleged injury in failing to reach agreement on a contract. 

Ultimately, this case was a set back compared to traditional in civil rights cases. As the Supreme Court continues to hear cases via teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be interesting to see how other cases may impact law and entertainment. . .

Feel free to share your thoughts below!

Until next time,

Lauryn