Hello BLG Client!
We are excited to welcome you to the Business Law Group family! Now that you have have decided to have Business Law Group represent you, we want to share some important information that we feel will be helpful in your legal process with us.
Our entire team is here for you so please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need more information.
Thank you for choosing Business Law Group! We are happy you are here and we look forward to working with you!
-The BLG Team
So What's Next?
If you are here, that means you have had your initial consultation with our legal team. During this meeting, you were able to provide us with some details about your matter and we were able to share how we can help.
We have thoughtfully put together this page with additional information on what’s next and how to help your matter run smoothly. We understand that going through a legal matter can be overwhelming and stressful, so we want to provide you with as much information as possible to help mitigate some of your questions and concerns.
How Our Process Works
The First Three Steps of the Process:
- Engagement Package
- Sharefile Access for Case Documents
- Ongoing Communications & Timelines
Step One: Engagement Package
The start things off, you will receive an engagement package from our administrative staff. This package will include three items:
- Engagement Letter
- Explanation of Billing Policies and Fee Advance Policy
- Expectations of Clients and Firm
The engagement letter defines the legal relationship between our law firm and you as our client. The letter will include information on the terms, conditions and scope of the attorney/client relationship as well as the terms of compensation for the firm.
Our engagement letter will show proof of representation between you and your attorney. It will clearly define the scope and nature of legal services to be provided by our firm. The importance of this engagement letter is to provide you zero confusion about what legal services we will and will not provide to you during this process.
Explanation of Billing Policies and Fee Advance Policy:
In your engagement package, you will receive a details explanation of our billing policies and our policy on your fee advance. An overview of these policies is also included below. This form will include a section for you to sign and acknowledge.
Expectations of Clients and Firm:
We believe in sharing as much information with you as possible to make sure that all steps in your matter go as smoothly as possible. In your engagement package, you will receive details on what we will expect from you as our client, as well as what you can expect from us.
Please be sure to read all documents carefully. If they meet with your approval, please sign each document in the appropriate space. If you have any questions on any of these documents, please contact our office as soon as possible so we can provide you with more information or if you need to make any changes before you sign these agreements.
Step Two: Fee Advance
In order to get started working on your behalf, we require payment of the fee advance for this matter as you discussed in your initial consultation. The amount of the fee advance required is dependent on the details of your matter and will be clearly provided to you.
Along with your engagement letter, you will also receive a copy of our explanation of fees and billing. On overview of these policies are also provided to you below.
Step Three: Access to Sharefile
As we move forward with your case, there will be times when we need you to share certain documents and materials with us that are pertinent to your matter. It is important to get these documents to us in a timely manner so we avoid any delays or missed deadlines.
We have a process in place that makes sharing your documents easy, safe and securely. We utilize Sharefile so you can upload and access all of your documents online.
Once you have signed all of the documents in your engagement package, you will be receiving an email from your paralegal that will include the following:
- A link to your personal Sharefile folder
- Instructions on how to access and download documents to your folder
Expectations of Clients & Firm
We believe that it is best to share expectations early, to encourage success, assist with the avoidance of frustrations, and attempt to minimize misunderstandings. The following is an explanation of how our firm will approach your matter and what we will expect in return from you.
What You Can Expect From Our Firm
We are fun, good-humored, and easy-going. However, we will always act in a professional manner when it comes to your legal needs. When you retain our firm, you hire the whole team. Everybody in our office, including all attorneys, paralegals, assistants, and secretaries, are dedicated to you and your matter. Each of us also commits to maintain the strictest confidentiality of your information and will only disclose your information when required by law or requested by you in writing. We will work to preserve your trust.
We understand the need to place the client’s needs first, to listen to our clients, and to understand their needs. We run our firm in a client-centric manner to address each client’s concerns and accomplish their goals to the best of our ability. Please understand, no guarantees can be made about outcomes because purported facts sometimes change, and the court system is not always predictable.
Our firm has set business hours during the week, and we do not provide emergency numbers for you to contact us after our normal business hours. We do have access to our messages and email accounts after hours and frequently monitor them in the event an actual emergency arises after business hours. As the courts cannot take any actions after hours, most messages and emails will be addressed the following business day. In certain circumstances, it may be necessary or appropriate for us to work over a weekend or holiday. However, those cases will generally be discussed and agreed to on a case-by-case basis in advance or if they arise from exigent circumstances, such as arrests, subpoenas, warrants, or other emergency situations.
Our firm understands that watching your financial bottom line is important to you. We have discussed, in detail, the fees we charge for services rendered on your matter, including staff hourly rates, and whether you will be billed on an hourly basis or agree to a fixed fee for the firm’s services. The specific billing information for your matter is detailed in the Engagement Letter you have been provided and in the Explanation of Billing Policies and Fee Advance Policy, both of which you will be required to sign before we agree to work on your legal matter. We accurately account for all of the time we spend on your matter and will provide you with an itemized invoice from us either monthly or bi-weekly.
We are not the cheapest attorneys in town, nor are we the most expensive. You can certainly find another attorney willing to handle your project for less. Of course, you get what you pay for, and our focus is on providing the best legal advice, in a timely manner, for a fair value. We do not discount our rates for some clients but not others because it would not be fair to all of our clients.
What We Will Expect From You
We will strive to treat you with the utmost respect and courtesy as we work together. You know your project better than anybody else, and we expect you to be up front and honest with us at all times and to provide us with any information we request in a timely manner. If you drag your feet, it only makes our job more difficult, will likely result in higher legal fees, and can even result in missing critical deadlines. If deadlines are missed, there may not be a way for us to remedy the situation. If you fail to provide us with the information we request in a timely manner, it will also make your matter more costly as we could then be required to work after hours or drop all of our other clients’ work in an attempt to complete the necessary work for your matter.
When you retain this firm, every employee here is working for you. As such, you should feel comfortable providing any and all necessary or required information to any member of our staff. Every employee has signed a strict confidentiality agreement to preserve your confidences and information. Please do not withhold information from us or try to tell us your story in piecemeal fragments. We need honest and accurate information for the entire duration of our representation in order to properly do our job. Providing partial information, or anything other than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, can only reduce the quality of the advice and work we can provide to you, and will also increase your fees if we have to hound you for additional information along the way.
Please be upfront and ask any questions you may have about the billing and possible fees at the beginning of our representation. We do not try to hide anything from you and want to make sure to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding related to our billing and fees. When you receive our invoices, please pay it in a timely manner. Just as you expect to be paid by your employer on a regular and timely basis, our cash-flow needs require you to pay your invoices on a regular and timely basis as well. If you notice that your trust account is nearing its minimum balance, please replenish it as needed. If you have problems making your payment, please contact our firm to discuss your situation so we can work together to find a solution that meets your needs.
We strive to abide by the guidelines outlined above. Should you feel at any time that we are not holding up our end of the deal, please notify us so that we may discuss the situation and find a solution together.
If we feel that you are not upholding your end of the guidelines outlined above, we will contact you in an attempt to remedy the situation. However, if you continue to disregard our agreement, we reserve the right to terminate our working relationship.
Explanation of Billing & Fee Advance Policies
We believe that it is best to share expectations early, to encourage success, avoid frustrations, and attempt to minimize misunderstandings. The following is an explanation of our firm’s billing policies and fee advance requirements. It is our hope that by understanding this policy, you will be better able to control your legal expenses and utilize our services more efficiently.
Why and How We Bill on an Hourly Basis
Unlike a manufacturing factory or retail store, we do not have the ability to sell a relatively unlimited amount of products or items. We cannot crank out more “widgets” when supplies run low. We sell legal advice. We sell access to our mind and individual thoughts. We sell the forms, letters, contracts, and documents that we personally spend time to prepare. Ultimately, we are selling our unique and individual time, as well as our collective experience, for the benefit of your project or legal matter. Although a number of different options have been tried over the years to place a value on legal services, it almost always comes back to a measure of time. That is our limiting factor.
Of the 24 hours in our day, a few go to the family, and even less to sleeping. A few go to outside commitments and activities. The bulk of those hours are spent at work. The 10 to 12 hours a day we spend at work is our “inventory.” That is all we have to sell, use, donate, or give away. We cannot make more work hours available, without cutting into the time we would devote elsewhere. That is why we bill on an hourly basis.
From a practical standpoint, we divide each hour into 6-minute increments, each representing 1/10 of an hour. That is the smallest measurement of time we can sell for practical purposes. When we begin working on your project, we start a computer-based timer that tracks the actual time spent on your project, and it records our time in our billing program in 1/10 of an hour increments. From 1 second to 5 minutes and 59 seconds is the first 0.1 hour. When the actual time spent on your project crosses into the next 6-minute increment, the billing measurement increases to the next 1/10 of an hour.
For example: If we work 2 minutes and 10 seconds on your matter, we will bill you for 0.1 hours. If we work for 5 minutes and 50 seconds, we still only bill you for 0.1 hours. If we work for 6 minutes and 10 seconds on your matter, we bill you for 0.2 hours.
Our Hourly Rates
Lawyers are expensive. We understand the burden that legal fees can place on a business or individual, and we diligently work to keep our fees reasonable. Our hourly rates are determined by the amount of education and experience each professional holds, as well as the complexity and requirements of the project at hand. We regularly review our billing policies and practices to ensure that we are providing the best service for a fair price.
Our initial hourly rates are set forth in our engagement letter. We reserve the right to adjust our hourly rates from time to time as provided in our engagement letter.
If the timeliness, pendency, or nature of your project or matter requires us to work outside of normal working hours, for reasons outside of our control, we reserve the right to bill you in an amount equal to one and a half times our normal hourly rates.
Flat Fee Services
Certain projects lend themselves well to flat fees. We have identified those types of projects on our website. The flat fees are determined based on our experience with similar types of projects, the amount of work generally involved, and the administrative time required to maintain our database of forms. If your project falls within the scope of work for which a flat fee is offered, we are happy to discuss a flat fee option with you. If we each agree that a flat fee is appropriate for your case or project, we will agree to perform your legal services for that flat fee, and that agreement, and the specific flat fee for your project, will be set forth in our engagement letter.
If we do not agree to a flat fee at the beginning of your matter, we will bill you at our normal hourly rates.
What is Billable?
Broadly speaking, unless we have a clear agreement to the contrary, any time that we spend on your matter that adds value is billable. This includes all time spent on legal or factual research; drafting or reviewing documents; analyzing laws, positions or options; reviewing, forwarding, or responding to emails and correspondence; drafting letters or emails; time spent in conferences and meetings; time spent on the telephone; and providing legal advice, whether in person or by telephone. It could also include administrative work that adds value to your matter, such as reviewing and scanning documents into your file, indexing the documents in your file, completing and filing forms, and preparing letters and correspondence for mailing. It would not include administrative work that does not add value, such as time spent preparing billing statements and opening, maintaining, and closing client files.
The Quick Call Allowance
When it comes to legal matters, we strongly believe that preventative action is better than providing a cure. As a matter of firm policy, we want to encourage our clients to call and bounce an idea or policy off us before taking certain actions with significant legal consequences, without the concern of being nickel-and-dimed. For that reason, we have implemented the “quick call” billing allowance described in this section.
If a client in good standing calls with a quick legal question that we can answer over the phone in 12 minutes or less (0.2 hours), and the answer does not require us to do any other work to answer the question or resolve the matter (i.e., send an email, do any research, provide a form, review documents in a file, or call someone else), then we will note the time on the invoice, but write the time off as “no-charge”. In other words, we give you an allowance for that time. If we have to do other work in connection with the phone call, then we have to bill for the time spent on the matter, including the original phone call. A client in good standing is a client with a signed engagement letter in place, current on all outstanding invoices, and compliant with our fee advance policy.
Please note, this quick call allowance does not simply mean that the first 0.2 hours of time spent on your project or legal matter is not billable. It only applies to questions, issues, or projects that we can fully resolve with a “quick call.” The purpose is to allow you to seek quick guidance before making a decision or taking action, with the ability to determine whether legal assistance is, or will be, needed. Through this allowance, we are trying to balance the value of our time, with our desire to remain accessible to our good clients. Below are some examples.
- If you call to discuss the termination of an employee and we can resolve your questions over the phone in 12 minutes or less, we will not bill you for that time.
- If you call for legal advice on a tax matter and it takes 20 minutes to resolve over the phone, we will bill you for the entire time spent on the phone call.
- If you call to discuss a contract clause and we have to retrieve the contract from your file and review the contract before we can resolve the issue, we will bill for the time spent on the initial phone call and all time reviewing the contract and discussing the issues with you.
- If you call to discuss an issue and we have to research a law in order to answer your question, we will bill you for the time we spend on the initial phone call and all time researching the issue and providing the answer.
- If you call for guidance on an issue and we can resolve the question in 12 minutes but you need an email confirming the answer, whether for your file or so that you can provide the written advice to the other owners or parties involved, then we will bill you for the time spent on the initial phone call and all time preparing and sending the email.
- If you call with a quick question on a form and we can resolve the matter in 12 minutes but you are not current on your billing with our office or are not in compliance with our fee advance policy, then the “quick call” allowance does not apply, and we will bill you for the time spent on the call.
Retainers and the Fee Advance
There is an important distinction between a retainer and a fee advance. A retainer is a fee paid to have access to an attorney over a period of time. A retainer is fully earned when delivered. The attorney gets to place that retainer in his or her pocket, and the client then has the privilege of being able to contact that attorney during the specified period for legal work. Our office generally does not work on a retainer basis.
A fee advance is an amount that is delivered to the attorney to cover legal fees and expenses that will occur at a later date. A fee advance is not earned when it is delivered. Rather, those funds belong to the client and are given to the attorney to hold in trust. We deposit those funds on your behalf into a special COLTAF Trust Account, which is highly regulated by the bar association. The trust account is not an interest-bearing account.
The fee advance is a vital part of our practice. It is how we ensure that we are paid for our services. As we perform legal services, or advance fees or expenses on behalf of a client, we are authorized to bill those services, fees, and expenses against the amount of the fee advance held in trust. Because we are a small business, like many of our clients, we need this mechanism to ensure that our firm’s bills, expenses, and payroll obligations are timely met. We account for these fund transfers on your monthly invoice, so you can always track what funds you have in trust and how they have been used.
From a practical standpoint, the fee advance is also a great benefit to our clients. As you can appreciate, we have multiple projects competing for our time. Some projects are naturally prioritized because of pending deadlines or other requirements. When those projects are completed, we generally have between five and eight other projects on our desk at any time, each of which is competing for our time and attention. If a client has a fee advance with our office that will cover our legal services, we are more likely to devote time to that project than another project on which we are not assured of payment. In other words, as the end of the month comes near and it is time to pay our own bills, we will likely focus our time and resources on the projects with sufficient fee advances.
Fee Advance Policy
Initial Fee Advance for New Clients and New Matters
It is the policy of this firm to collect an initial fee advance from all new clients, as well as for new matters or cases that arise for existing clients. Generally, the initial fee advance required is based on the type and complexity of legal work that will be required.
- For business and transactional matters, the initial fee advance will generally be between $3,000 and $5,000.
- For litigation matters, the initial fee advance will generally be at least $5,000 for cases pending in County Court and $10,000 for matters pending in District Court.
We reserve the right to increase, or waive, the amount of the initial fee advance on a case-by-case basis as determined us, in our sole discretion.
Replenishment of Fee Advance on Active Matters
In addition to the initial fee advance, we will require you to replenish the amount of your fee advance as the project continues, and we bill against those amounts. Again, the purpose is to ensure that funds remain available in our trust account to satisfy your legal fees as your matter or project progresses. As with the initial advance, the replenishment obligation is based on the type and complexity of legal work that remains or is likely to arise.
- For transactional matters, the replenishment obligation will generally be between $2,000 and $5,000.
- For litigation matters, the replenishment obligation will be between $2,000 and $5,000, and will increase as important deadlines or trial dates approach.
We reserve the right to increase, modify, or waive the amount of any replenishment amount on a case-by-case basis as determined by us, in our sole discretion.
No Active Matters
If you do not have any active matters pending but wish to have our firm available to represent you immediately on matters as they arise, we will require you to maintain a fee advance of $500 in our trust account. This will allow us to promptly become involved in new matters, without delay. After we have begun work on your matter, if we estimate that the work will exceed the $500 balance of your fee advance, you will be required to deposit additional funds into our trust account in an amount to be determined based upon the complexity of the matter and the time in which it must be completed.
If you do not have any active matters pending, you do not have to maintain a fee advance in our trust account to call upon our services. We would still be happy to assist you. However, as new matters arise, you would be required to provide an appropriate fee advance before we are able to begin performing any legal work on your behalf. Under this option, we would not be able to begin work on your project immediately. Rather, it may take a day or two for you to provide the necessary fee advance.
If we have agreed to serve as the registered agent of your company, or if you would like us to assist you in filing your annual periodic reports with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, we will require you to maintain a fee advance of $50 in our trust account.
We strive to abide by the guidelines and policies outlined above. Should you feel at any time that we are not holding up our end of the deal, please notify us so that we may discuss the situation and find a solution together.
If we feel that you are not upholding your end of the guidelines and policies outlined above, we will contact you in an attempt to remedy the situation. However, if you continue to disregard our agreement, we reserve the right to terminate our working relationship.
Get to Know Your Team!
Now that you have retained Business Law Group, you will be assigned an attorney or attorneys to work on your case. In addition to your attorney(s), you will also be working with several of our other team members such as paralegals, accounting and administrative staff. Please see below for more information on your team as well as contact information.