Legal Fees and the Lawyer-Client Relationship as a New Business Owner
Posted Friday, June 30, 2023 by Kim Sandher
When starting a new business, one of the critical aspects of working with a lawyer is understanding their fees and establishing a positive lawyer-client relationship. Legal matters can be complex, and having a clear understanding of costs and communication can lead to a smoother partnership with your business lawyer.
In this blog, we explore how legal fees are typically structured and provide insights into what it's like working with a lawyer.
Understanding Legal Fees
Legal fees can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of your legal needs, the lawyer's experience, and the location of their practice. Common billing methods include:
a. Hourly Billing:
Lawyers charge an hourly rate for the time they spend working on your case or providing legal advice. It's essential to know the hourly rate upfront and request regular updates on the billable hours.
b. Flat Fees:
For specific legal services, such as bankruptcy filing or business formation, lawyers may offer a fixed fee. This approach provides cost certainty for those services.
c. Contingency Fees:
In some cases, lawyers work on a contingency basis, receiving a percentage of any settlement or judgment they obtain for you. This fee structure is common in certain types of cases, such as personal injury claims and very rare in business.
Lawyers may require an upfront payment known as a retainer or advance fee deposit, which is held in a trust account and used to cover future legal expenses.
Fee Transparency and Agreements
Discuss fees with your lawyer at the beginning of your engagement. Make sure you read and understand your lawyer's written fee agreement that outlines the scope of services, the fee structure, any potential additional costs, and the billing frequency. This document ensures transparency and prevents misunderstandings about billing later on.
Communication and Responsiveness
Working with a lawyer should involve clear and open communication. Inquire about the lawyer's preferred method of communication and their typical response time. A lawyer who promptly addresses your inquiries fosters a positive working relationship.
Building Trust and Rapport
Trust is a fundamental aspect of the lawyer-client relationship. Find a lawyer who genuinely understands your business goals and concerns. A lawyer who takes the time to comprehend your needs can provide more tailored and effective legal advice.
Updates and Progress Reports
Ask your lawyer about their approach to providing updates on your case or legal matters. If it important to you, request regular progress reports to keep you informed and allow you to participate actively in important decisions.
A great lawyer will work collaboratively with you to find creative and practical solutions to your business challenges. They should be receptive to your input and actively involve you in the decision-making process.
Working with a lawyer for your new business can be a valuable relationship that ensures legal compliance and protection. By understanding their fee structure, establishing clear communication channels, and building trust, you can foster a positive and productive lawyer-client relationship. Remember to ask questions, seek fee transparency, and choose a lawyer who demonstrates a genuine interest in supporting your business's success. With the right legal guidance, you can navigate the legal landscape with confidence and focus on growing your new venture.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific legal guidance regarding your business, it is recommended to consult with a qualified attorney. Please contact Kim Sandher at 206-340-2008 with any questions you may have.