Business Lawyers Minneapolis: Preparing for Initial Consultation II

In previous article, I discussed what type of information you should bring to your Minneapolis business attorney. In this essay, I shift the focus toward the second part of the preparation which is about what type of questions you need to ask your business lawyer.

Usually, the questions that you want your Minneapolis business lawyer to answer should, at the very least, cover the following four areas:

1.    Cost and Billing

The most common and important issue is the cost of the case as well as the manner in which you will be billed.  Unless this is a flat-fee case, you should not expect your business attorney to give you a precise amount of money you will need to spend on your case.  Usually, a Minneapolis business lawyer will give you an estimate, which, in the end, may or may not correspond to the actual cost of the case.

In terms of the manner of billing, you are likely to billed per hour in most business litigation and large business transaction matters. Small contracts and certain common-place business services are often subject to a flat fee with an additional hourly fee charged in case of further modifications as requested by a client.

2.     Time

The next area you should discuss with your Minneapolis business attorney is how long the case will need to be conducted.   The estimates here are likely to vary significantly.   While it is often fairly easy to predict when an employment contract will be finished, it is much harder to estimate an amount of time a business litigation case may take (especially if an extensive motion practice is anticipated).

3.    Participation

Ask your Minneapolis business lawyer about who will handle your case – i.e. whether the attorney will handle it personally or turn it over to his associates.  When you are dealing with a large law firm, you run the risk that the attorney with whom you are having the initial consultation will not be the one handling your case, especially if you are a small business or an individual.  Due to common division of labor in large law firms, it is very likely that the case will be turned over to inexperienced associates whose work will be only reviewed by the attorney who conducted the initial consultation.

If, however, you are hiring a small firm or a solo practitioner, you are very likely to avoid this problem and your case will be handled from the beginning through the end by your experienced business lawyer who is probably an owner of the law firm and personally responsible for the case.

4.     Percentage of Practice

The last question is how much time per month, on the average, your Minneapolis business attorney devotes to his business practice.  At a minimum, your business lawyer should devote about 25% of his practice to business law.


While these four questions do not represent a complete list of questions you should ask your business attorney, they are likely to provide that minimum background necessary for the review of a retainer agreement with your Minneapolis business lawyer.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you with your business issues, whether you want to establish a new business, create a legal structure for an existing one, draft an employment contract or an Independent Contractor Agreement, engage in complex business planning, litigate a business dispute, and so on.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your business case with an experienced business attorney!

Business Lawyers Minneapolis: Preparing for Initial Consultation I

Preparing for the initial consultation with your Minneapolis business lawyer usually involves at least two steps. First, gathering the information you need to supply to your business attorney. Second, preparing the questions you want to ask your business lawyer. This essay deals with the first part of the preparation.

It is important to understand that your Minneapolis business lawyer will initially have to rely almost exclusively on the information that you supply to him. Moreover, failure to supply the necessary information during initial consultation may lead to significant delays in your case and increase your legal expenses. This is why it is very important to come prepared to the initial interview.

The first step is to ask your Minneapolis business lawyer about what you should bring with you. While Minneapolis business lawyers commonly recommend that you should bring all documents that are related to your case, I usually list specific documents which are customary in a given business situation.

“Everything related to the case” usually includes all documents, statements, e-mails, letters, corporate business documents, et cetera. Sometimes, this would mean divulging sensitive financial and personal information. You should not feel uncomfortable in doing so, because a lawyer will guard all of this information. Client confidentiality is the cornerstone of Sherayzen Law Office’s practice. We jealously guard all client information that a client supplied to us in confidence.

The second step is for you to review what documents you actually have against the list of the documents requested by your attorney. It is possible that you may lack some documents. The purpose of this step is to identity the missing information.

The third step is to try to obtain the missing information before meeting with your business attorney. If this is not possible, then let your attorney know during the consultation what information you are missing and whether you will be able to find it after the meeting.

Once you go through these three steps, the first part of the your preparation for the initial business consultation is finished. I will discuss the second part of your preparation in the next article.

Remember, Sherayzen Law Office can help you with your business issues, whether they are concerned your business license, administrative appeals, litigation, business organization or business planning.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your business case with an experienced business attorney!

Business Lawyers Minneapolis: Legal Fee Issues

When you are about to hire a business lawyer in Minneapolis, you need to discuss the following top three legal fee issues:

1. Payment Structure

There are three main models of payment that lawyers use: hourly fee, contingency fee, and flat fee. The hourly fee is the most common form of business lawyer compensation in Minneapolis because it is fairly simple and, yet, flexible – the business attorney is paid only based on the time he spends on the case. If you are paying your business lawyer by the hour, the agreement should set out the hourly rates of the business attorney and anyone else in this attorney’s office who might work on the case.

A contingency fee, where a Minneapolis business attorney takes a percentage of the amount the client wins at the end of the case, is very rarely used by business attorneys in Minneapolis. In the unlikely case that this latter type of fee arrangement is used, the most important issue to understand is whether the business lawyer deducts the costs and expenses from the amount won before or after you pay the lawyer’s percentage. Obviously, you will pay more in attorney fees if your business lawyer deducts the litigation costs based on the latter scenario (i.e. after you pay the lawyer’s fee).

Finally, in a flat fee arrangement, you pay an agreed-upon amount of money per job/case. For example, you pay $5,000 to your business attorney to organize your corporation with all of the corresponding corporate documents. While a flat fee arrangement is possible in a small project, it is generally disliked by business lawyers in Minneapolis because it often lacks the necessary flexibility to account for the client’s individual legal situation. Usually, some sort of an additional payment arrangement is built into such fee agreements to make sure that the balance between the client’s legal needs and the business attorney’s fees is maintained.

Remember,out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. long-distance calls, mailing costs, photocopying fees, lodging, etc.) and litigation costs (such as court filing fees) are usually billed to you in addition to your business lawyer’s fees.

2. Retainer

Most business lawyers in Minneapolis require their client to pay a retainer. Retainer can mean two different fee arrangements. First, retainer may be the amount of money a client pays to guarantee the lawyer’s commitment to the case. Under this arrangement, the retainer is not a form of an advance payment for future work, but a non-refundable deposit to secure the lawyer’s availability. Second, a retainer is simply the amount of money a business attorney asks his client to pay in advance. In this scenario, the lawyer usually deposits the retainer in a client trust account and withdraws money from it for the work completed according to the fee agreement. The fee agreement should specify the amount of the retainer and when the lawyer can withdraw money form the client trust account (usually, on a monthly basis).

3. Timing of Billing

Usually, business attorneys in Minneapolis bill their clients on a monthly basis. Sometimes, however, when the project is not large, the fee agreement will specify that you will be billed upon completion of the case. In a flat-fee scenario, it is likely that the client will be obligated to pay either a half or even the whole amount immediately as a retainer. It is wise for a client to insist in paying some part of the fee upon completion of the case to retain a degree of control over the case completion.


Generally, before you sign the fee agreement, business lawyers in Minneapolis will discuss with you many more topics than what is covered in this article. The three issues explained here, however, are crucial to your understanding of how the business relationship with your Minneapolis business attorney will work. Before you sign the fee agreement with your business lawyer in Minneapolis, you should ask at least these three questions and make sure that the answers are complete and to your satisfaction.

Business Lawyers in Minneapolis: Three Most Important Questions You Should Ask

When you are about to hire a business lawyer to help you with a business issue, there are three fundamental questions that you need to ask him.

1. What percentage of the practice is devoted to the business law? The purpose of this question is two-fold. First, you will figure out whether this business lawyer likes handling cases in your area of law. If a Minneapolis attorney devotes more than 20% of his practice to business law, you know that he likes this area of law and will be enthusiastic about your case. This means that, in addition to his general due diligence obligations, this business lawyer will have a professional interest in your case. Second, generally, a business lawyer who devotes 20% or more of his practice to business law is likely to have good experience in this area.

2. How will I be billed? Generally, Minneapolis business lawyers will bill you on an hourly basis, particularly in a business litigation setting. They will provide you with a general estimate of your future expenses, which, understandably, will vary with the progress of the case. In corporate organization or corporate governance cases, a business attorney may also offer a flat fee option. Flat fees may also be used for some corporate document drafting or certain legal services supplemental to your business issues. For example, a business attorney in Minneapolis might charge a flat fee for a board memorandum or review of your current business lease agreement.

The more important issue with regard to this question is the manner in which you will be billed. Here, the practice varies among business lawyers in Minneapolis. Some business attorneys may require you to supply a large retainer which is later deposited in a client’s trust account; if the retainer is depleted, your lawyer may ask you to replenish it later. Other business lawyers will require a smaller retainer and will then bill you on a monthly basis. If the latter option is proposed by your business lawyer, you should ask for a sufficient time period (usually 10-14 days) to pay your bill. A mix of these options is also available. You will find that Minneapolis business lawyers, especially solo practitioners, are rather flexible in their choice of the payment mode, but, once the fee agreement is signed, they tend to be firm in insisting that you comply with the terms of the agreement.

3. Will the business lawyer devote his personal attention to your case? This question is very important, especially in the context of mid-size and large law firms, because in those firms the partner with whom you signed the agreement will generally delegate some of his responsibilities to his associates, who are generally less experienced in the area than the partner. In this case, you should insist that the business attorney with whom you signed the agreement devotes his personal attention to your case and delegates only marginal matters to his associates. Generally, business lawyers in Minneapolis who operate as solo practitioners or in small firms do not have similar problems.

The other important issue involved in this question is whether your business attorney is generally responsive to your calls and keeps you up-to-date with respect to the progress of your case. Most business lawyers in Minneapolis are very busy people; yet, you must insist that you would be able to communicate with them. In my practice, I devote a great deal of energy and time to make sure that my clients do not feel neglected and have the latest information about their case. For example, my firm has a rule of returning most calls within two hours after the client calls. I also make sure that the communication details are discussed during the first meeting. Usually, in additional to bi-weekly phone updates, I also send out a monthly written update, which generally includes a brief summary of events and copies of all relevant documents and materials, including communications with the other party.

In conclusion, by asking these three questions to business attorneys in Minneapolis, you will make sure that the business lawyer you are choosing is congruent to your interests and character.