I’m primarily a business transaction attorney. This means I help people close transactions – real estate deals, commercial leases, business asset sales, corporate stock sales, membership interest sales, personal property sales, loan transactions, and service agreements. The help I provide usually comes in the form of assisting with negotiation strategy and tactics, guiding parties through the deal itself, and helping protect against liability risk.
Lawyers are absolutely necessary for many business transactions. If you don’t think you need one, then you probably are not aware of the risks. Lawyers cost money, though. It doesn’t have to break the bank, though. Here are five tips on how to save legal costs in your next business transaction.
Get Your Attorney Involved Early
Call us before you enter into a memorandum of understanding, letter of intent, or term sheet. It’s even better if you call before you start negotiating. These preliminary discussions are not particularly time-intensive, which means they do not cost much in attorney fees. But they are incredibly important. If this stage is rushed through, then you risk ending up with a transaction that you do not want to close (which means you have spent money on a lawyer that you did not need to spend) or spending much more money on your lawyer trying to maneuver into better terms. False moves take time (and time = money) to correct. The importance of proper and thorough preparation cannot be overstated.
Get Organized, And Get Your Attorney Everything
Transactions have many schedules and exhibits and other types of paper. Transactions are paper. If you are selling, then put together the exact list of items you are selling. If you have inventory, go through the inventory and list it. If you have equipment, identify the equipment. Find your vehicle titles. If you are selling stock, find your minute book. If you call a law firm early, they will tell you what you need to start putting together. This usually is not the difficult part. The difficult part is following through completely. It’ll need to be done at some point anyway, and early means less time spent working around it. Lawyers are good at quickly sorting the relevant from the irrelevant, but they can’t guess. Get us the information we need. Money spent on your attorney to remind you of what we need does not add value.
Bunch Communications To Your Law Firm
Lawyers bill for telephone calls and emails the same as drafting the transaction documents. Most attorneys bill by one-tenth of one-hour increments (some with a minimum of two-tenths of an hour increment). If it takes 30 seconds or 5 minutes 59 seconds, it’s going to be the same time entry. We try as much as possible to consolidate our efforts because switching gears from file to file takes time. Meaning, lawyers try and block our time off so we can knock a bunch of tasks off in the least amount of time. It helps if the client reciprocates this effort. It may seem like a good idea to fire off a ten-word email question at 10:00 p.m. with an answer that probably can wait, but you should know that we will answer and it’ll cost a .1 for each one of those emails.
Work With The Whole Team
SW&L Attorneys in Fargo, like many law firms, takes a team-based approach to closing transactions. We try and delegate tasks to make things more cost-efficient. This means if my paralegal or associate attorney connects with you, it’s not because I’m too busy for you. It’s because we’re accomplishing the same task for less cost. For example, I will take more time than my paralegal will to file documents with the North Dakota Secretary of State, and my paralegal’s hourly rate is less than mine. This saves you money and gets you the same service.
Learn Off The Clock
I enjoy discussing the ins and outs of transactions with clients and helping clients along. But I’ll be the first to tell you that education by lawyer is not the most cost effective method of learning. For example, clients who know how to effectively negotiate will save money on us doing all the negotiating. Clients who have taken some time to learn the legal basics or regulatory basics are able to more efficiently understand us and our lawyer-language. This means it takes less time. We can point you in the right direction.
If you have a business transaction that you may need help with, call our Business Law Team at 701-297-2890 or send us an email below.