3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

Carl J. Grassi is the president of McDonald Hopkins LLC. Grassi serves as corporate counsel and business adviser to many middle-market and growth companies. He has extensive experience assisting clients in a variety of complex matters and frequently speaks on business planning topics for business owners, lawyers and accountants.

Q. When should a business seek legal counsel?

When you’re just formulating some ideas and thoughts, because at that stage, while it’s still fluid, there may be legal considerations and business planning considerations that a lawyer may be aware of that can assist in the development of the plan. Many times, lawyers are brought in on the back end when the plan has already been struck, and then it becomes more difficult to provide advice when the die has been cast. When the company believes there is the potential for litigation, they should be talking with counsel — not when a complaint is filed or comes to the forefront.

Q. Can a business negotiate a flat fee for legal services?

If it is a fairly routine service, the lawyer can give a flat rate as to what the cost is to provide that service. When a flat fee is negotiated or considered, it’s important that the client has a clear understanding of the scope of the services that are going to be provided so there is no misunderstanding by either party as to the level of the service. When an attorney and a client discuss a flat fee, there should be clear understanding in writing as to what services will be provided.

Q. How should a company prepare for a meeting with their lawyer?

When a meeting is being considered, the company should spend time beforehand outlining the matters to be considered and providing some of that information ahead of time to the lawyer, so that the lawyer can have some thought process to go into that meeting and be effective. They should prepare for the meeting with a set agenda as to what they want to cover.