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.