While we often invoke the bold spirit of independent craft beer to be your guide in making big decisions for your brewery, sometimes you need the no-nonsense legal guidance of a lawyer. Let’s take Verrill Dana for example, which has been representing and consulting with craft breweries for a decade. The New England-based law firm has offices from Portland, Maine, and Westport, Conn., to Boston, Mass., and Washington, D.C., but its attorneys serve clients in the beverage industry internationally.
In fact, Verrill Dana’s Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries Group has 12 attorneys and one government affairs consultant. Hell, these guys and gals even have a podcast dedicated to helping brewers on their journey from passion to profit — the Tap Tips Podcast Miniseries — which makes a pretty good case for the expertise of these legal eagles. Verrill Dana attorneys Kelly Donahue and Jonathan Dunitz discuss the importance of branding and compliance with beer labeling guidelines in the episode below.
“We created the podcasts because we know breweries are busy and may not have the time to attend more structured seminars. We hope that these will assist breweries with identifying potential legal issues before they occur,” said Jonathan Dunitz, an attorney in Verrill Dana’s Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries Group. “At Verrill Dana, we take a team approach to this growing industry, working with our clients to identify issues before they become actual problems.”
The Tap Tips Podcast Miniseries contains eight episodes to assist up-and-coming brewmasters and brewery owners to think critically about the issues affecting their business. These podcasts provide information and practical tips for navigating the various complex issues that may arise at any stage — from business formation to licensing to risk management. This miniseries is part of Verrill Dana’s “Verrill Voices” podcast series, the next evolution of the firm’s longstanding efforts to keep business leaders up to date, which already include in-person seminars, webinars, email alerts and blogs.
In this episode, Tawny Alvarez, a labor and employment attorney and co-chair of the Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries practice group, discusses the ins and outs of dealing with employee-relations issues at your brewery. She answers easier questions such as “is it appropriate to pay your employees with beer?” (short answer, no) and harder questions such as is it okay for friends and family to volunteer in the opening stages of a brewery? Unfortunately, again, the answer is no. Individuals cannot “volunteer” for a for-profit business, so unless you are a not-for-profit brewery, you cannot use volunteers and must pay these individuals minimum wage.
Learn more with even the other episodes of the Tap Tips Podcast Miniseries, which can be found at www.verrilldana.com/taptipspodcast, in addition to on iTunes and SoundCloud.