Rust Belt Business Law - April 2021

Take a look at our April newsletter! 814-315-9255

April 2021

Letter by Mail The Value of Something Tangible

The way people communicate has changed drastically over the decades. Many of the old methods once used are obsolete or slowly becoming so. For instance, fax machines and Morse code are out of date, and that is more prominent with every passing year. April 27 is Morse Code Day, in case you still need to get a gift for that special someone. Today, people rely on instant transmissions, instant communication, instant responses, and instant feedback, all of which need to come electronically. It seems like anything less is tossed aside. But of course I have contrary thoughts about this … As a business owner, I have several social media accounts for our firm: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and ClubHouse. These sites give our clients a chance to reach out to us and communicate quickly and effectively. We even have the ability to talk to people across Pennsylvania, not just in the Erie area. While I acknowledge these tools are beneficial in many, many ways, I also prefer the old school methods of communication. I’ve always preferred to talk to someone over the phone so I can hear their tone of voice and have a better understanding of their reactions during a conversation. Even Zoom has these benefits, where two or more individuals can see each other and note their body language. No one questions tone or even silence in these situations. It’s easy to tell that when someone is quiet, they’re simply thinking something through and not ignoring the other person. In this way, I think Zoom is crucial to our business, especially during the pandemic.

Even though we’ve been unable to meet our clients face-to-face as often as we used to, it’s still allowed us to stay in touch in a meaningful way. I tell our team that “email is for information. The phone is for emotion.” Not only this, but new technology also allows us to serve other geographic areas without traveling as much. Letters, too, have significance. It shows the receiver you took the time to think and write something by hand, going through the process to get it into the mail. Even a typed letter has a certain weight to it and has a bigger impact than an email with an attachment. Today, people rely on emails, but I’ve always believed certain traits are lost through an email. The importance of the subject matter comes through far more effectively in a physical form than digital. A physical letter, a face-to-face virtual call, and even a phone call shows a certain level of care and consideration that an email does not. The reason we mail our newsletter is not just because I prefer it over emails, but I understand the impact it has. An email will simply get buried in the thousands of emails we receive every day. Having something come physically in the mail (which isn’t a bill or another Amazon package) is refreshing. Physical mail is also something that we work with every day as a law firm. When I first started my practice, I always said I was getting into the stationery business. No matter how much technology advances in the ways people communicate, people will always receive paperwork from a law firm. The good news for our clients is that we’re not communicating through Morse code, although sometimes our work can be challenging to read. If the last few decades have shown us anything, it’s that technology is quickly advancing. Our team is ready and willing to adapt and utilize new technologies as they appear if it means we can continue to serve our clients in the best ways possible. Yet, no matter how far we may go, I continue to believe nothing will replace personal interactions or the value of receiving a letter by mail. We like to strike that balance. You’ll also notice a special insert in this month’s newsletter. I’m asking you to do a favor for me and help me win a bet with our team. Please check out to see what I’m asking from you! | 1 –Adam Williams

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For the First Time, a Vegan Restaurant Gets a Michelin Star

It’s difficult to take animal products out of French cuisine and replace them with lemongrass, seaweed, and fir (yes, the tree). French meals are generally meat-centric, featuring vegetables solely as a side dish. And, even with no meat, how do you cut out cheese and cream? Claire Vallee, owner of the vegan restaurant ONA, found a way. The name is an acronym, standing for “origine non-animale.” And her restaurant, located near Bordeaux, France, was among the 54 restaurants to earn their first Michelin star in 2021. Although a few restaurants in the U.S. and Germany featuring vegan dishes have earned Michelin stars in the past, no restaurant that was 100% vegan has been honored with a star. ONA had a bumpy start despite this amazing honor. After crowdfunding and securing a loan from La Nef, which specializes in loans for ethical and eco-friendly businesses, Vallee still ran out of money to complete construction. Undaunted, she used social media to rally 80 volunteers to help finish the job over the course of two months. She finally opened ONA in 2016. “This is a good thing for the vegan community, as this star is evidence that French gastronomy is becoming more inclusive, that plant-based dishes belong there, too,” Vallee told CNN.

During the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, ONA went to takeout only. With the rise in popularity of plant-based diets, demand for vegan restaurants has been growing, but ONA still struggled. Last fall, its seven-course menu featured dishes with intriguing combinations of fir, boletus and sake shiitake mushrooms, dulse seaweed, lemongrass, and galangal (also known as Thai ginger). Today, the restaurant is currently closed because of the pandemic, but the victory is huge for French cuisine. Gwendal Poullenec, the international head of the Michelin Guides, told The New York Times, “The general public might not associate pure veganism with a gastronomical experience.” But a Michelin star could liberate chefs who are still reluctant to explore plant-based cooking. For most of us, international travel won’t be on the menu anytime soon — but we hope ONA opens its doors again soon. The world deserves to enjoy ONA’s award-winning menu!

Up in Flames The Fyre Festival’s Legal Fallout for Influencers

Influencer marketing has long been a legal gray area, but recently settled celebrity lawsuits related to the Fyre Festival — a failed luxury musical festival — have definitely added some color to the debate. The idea for the Fyre Festival came from rapper Ja Rule and his business partner Billy McFarland, a 25-year-old CEO of a luxury concierge service. The duo created the event together and touted it as the world’s most expensive music festival. They’d also launched an attractive marketing campaign which included celebrity promotions by Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and other influencers. All the while, the organizers knew the Fyre Festival was doomed from the start. In lieu of a multiday, luxury experience, thousands of people were scammed and left stranded in the Bahamas instead.

“[The organizers] had six to eight weeks to pull off something that should have taken close to a year,” says Chris Smith, who directed a Netflix documentary on the festival. “But what was most surprising to me was going to the Bahamas and seeing the aftermath of what was left behind and the effect on the people there.” The local economy was devastated. “They had engaged with so much of the local community to try and pull this off. There were hundreds of day laborers working,” says Smith. “Fyre had such a high profile that I don’t think anyone could have assumed that it wouldn’t work out.” As the Fyre Festival fell apart, Gregory Messer — the trustee in charge of overseeing the bankruptcy for Fyre Media — looked into the finances. He began to suspect that there had been “fraudulent

transfers” between the founders and many of the event’s promoters, and he began to sue the celebrities and influencers that drove the hype behind the festival. For example, McFarland and Ja Rule reportedly paid Kendall Jenner over $275,000 to publish an Instagram post promoting the festival. Although Jenner denied liability, she did not disclose on the post that it was paid and sponsored. Messer’s attorney further argued that Jenner had not told her Instagram followers that she’d pulled out of the festival after learning of its disastrous problems. Although more legal parameters will likely spring up in the future to further define the limits of influencer marketing, this will certainly make any celebrity think twice about accepting money to promote events and brands. And that’s definitely for the best!

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As April showers arrive, how do you stay dry when dashing from place to place? Luckily, wearing a raincoat doesn’t mean looking like Paddington Bear anymore. Here are several raincoat styles you’ll love so much you’ll be praying for rain. No. 1: The Everyday, Lightweight Hoodie Raincoat There’s something satisfying about wearing a black hoodie and not having to make other decisions about an outfit that day. The same applies to your everyday, lightweight black hoodie raincoat. Beautifully simple, you can wear it over anything you own — but until the rain comes, you can leave it rolled in your bag or pocket. Yes, it’s that compact! Check out Rain’s Ultralight Jacket on , which fits the bill perfectly. No. 2: The Confident, Classic Trench Raincoat Just because you have a trenchcoat doesn’t mean it’s rainproof anymore — so why not buy a fashionable, elegant trenchcoat you can wear rain or shine? A high-quality trenchcoat is super practical, and it’ll also give you a classic, on-trend look for years to come. Find yours on , which has beautiful coats that’ll last a lifetime at a decent price. No. 3: The Practical, Stylish Poncho Ponchos are a rainy day favorite because they’re affordable, easy to put on no matter how bulky your clothes are, and generally easy to store once you’re done wearing them. If you live somewhere that doesn’t rain often or you just prefer the feeling of a loose wrap, then a light poncho might be your best option. Some even include pockets, making your life a little easier wherever you’re headed! Try to find diverse styles at various price points. Of course, we cannot ignore the popularity of Sherlock Holmes. Will his raincoat, the Inverness cape, be the next sensation? Combining elements from a poncho and trenchcoat, the Inverness cape is a unique style that’s fashionable and practical! No matter which style you prefer, these coats prove that looking good while staying dry is possible. TRENDING RAINCOAT STYLES FOR 2021


Inspired by


• 1 cup cooked chicken, diced • 1 14-oz can artichokes, drained and quartered • 1 cup fresh asparagus pieces • 1/2 cup carrots, grated • 1 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth

• 1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped and divided • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided • 2 tsp minced garlic • 1/4 tsp salt • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided


1. Preheat oven to 425 F and grease an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. 2. In the prepared dish, stir together cooked chicken, artichokes, asparagus, carrots, uncooked pasta, chicken broth, half the chives, half the parsley, garlic, salt, and 2 tbsp Parmesan. 3. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes. 4. Uncover and stir. At this point, check the pasta to make sure it is al dente. If it’s undercooked, cover the dish and return to the oven until pasta is tender. 5. Remove from oven and garnish with remaining Parmesan, chives, and parsley. | 3

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814-315-9255 425 West 10th St. Erie, PA 16502


Letter by Mail


For the First Time, a Vegan Restaurant Gets a Michelin Star The Fyre Festival’s Legal Fallout for Influencers


Spring Vegetable and Chicken Pasta Bake This Spring’s Trending Raincoat Styles


AI Is Helping Us Explore Space!


Genius Technology

3 Ways AI Is Changing Our Lives for the Better

Detecting Disease Our health has never been more in focus than it is today, and innovators know that. Some AI devices now can detect illness just by smelling someone’s breath. The bots are designed to pick up on certain odor cues that the body gives off while fighting diseases, like cancer or diabetes. While these machines are still in the implementation and development phases, they have the potential to improve diagnostic testing and find diseases in the near future. Creating Better Engineering Platforms Engineers have thankless, albeit powerful, jobs. While they’re often responsible for some of our biggest achievements, much of their job is spent tinkering with existing models to improve small components for greater success. Thanks to AI, Stanford University professor Chris Re surmises that engineers may be able to spend more time playing with greater ideas instead. Machine-learning technology is capable of understanding where the pitfalls in a device lie and how it would need to be improved. This can cut down on time spent doing mundane work, and instead, engineers can move innovation along faster than ever.

Artificial intelligence (AI) became a household feature when Apple introduced us to Siri, and it expanded with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. However, AI can do so much more than tell us the weather or answer our customer service questions. Today, AI is more advanced than ever, and as engineers continue to tweak its capabilities, it continues to shape the way we think about the future. Here are three ways AI is expanding beyond computer programs. Exploring Mars Putting humans on Mars is NASA’s ultimate goal, so it’s probing for safe landing sites on the big red planet with the help of AI. For the past 15 years, scientists have relied on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to send photos and other valuable data to NASA. One of the crucial aspects of the planet that NASA needs to study is the craters, both old and new. But expecting the orbiter to find these with precision hasn’t always been easy. In 2020, NASA scientists developed an AI software that could detect fresh craters on Mars’ surface in the photos that the orbiter sends back. This has already led to the discovery of dozens of once- hidden craters in the orbiter’s photos.

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Hopefully you’ve seen that we renamed our firm Rust Belt Business Law. You’ve seen from our newsletter that our firm is growing like crazy! But now, I have a favor to ask. Can you help me? Visit It will take five minutes, and you would really help me out. Thanks, Adam 814-315-9255

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