(949) 548-1700

Corporations

I can form a corporation or an LLC online for $99, why would anyone pay an attorney for this service?

First of all, it will probably actually cost closer to $250 by the time you pay the state filing fees and other necessary fees/charges. Even then, the price is substantially less than an attorney will usually charge. Review the chart below to evaluate what you get for your money:

Issue

Do it Yourself
(or via online service)

Hire an attorney

Consultation regarding appropriate entity for your particular business (corporation vs. LLC vs. LP vs. ?)?

No

Yes

Advice and assistance in transforming your existing business into operation as a newly-formed entity?

No

Yes

Consultation regarding difference to you between forming an entity in one state vs. another?

No

Yes

Consultation regarding the legal and practical distinctions among your business’s legal name, fictitious business name (dba), trade name, etc.?

No

Yes

Assistance with steps necessary to transfer your business or professional license to your newly-formed entity?

No

Yes

Consultation and guidance regarding the formalities required of your newly-formed entity?

No

Yes

 

When business owners wish to transfer their existing business to a newly-formed entity, numerous steps are required and they vary from business to business. Most non-lawyers don’t foresee all the steps necessary. Even if they did, most would be unable to perform them all.

Find a lawyer you are comfortable with and get an understanding of what he/she will do in exchange for the fees to be charged.  Provided you find a lawyer who is committed to providing good service, it will be money well spent.

Should I form a corporation or an LLC?

For most businesses, the distinction between operating as one or the other is minimal. The factors which are most likely to impact such a decision are (1) record keeping requirements, (2) tax consequences, and (3) need for flexibility in both ownership and profit allocation. You should consult with an attorney to make a proper determination in light of your specific circumstances. We have formed hundreds of entities for all kinds of business ventures. Contact us to discuss your needs today.

Discovery

What is discovery?

Discovery is a phase of litigation during which the parties are entitled to employ various methods for obtaining information, documents, and things from each other as well as from non-parties. During discovery, the parties can also require each other to commit to a position on various factual and/or legal matters.

Discovery enables the parties to learn about the facts of the case and to perform an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments and claims at issue. Discovery prepares the parties for trial and, with any luck, it also reveals things about the case that can bring the parties closer together with respect to their expectations and corresponding settlement demands.

What are the various methods or types of discovery?

Written Interrogatories come in two general formats. Special Interrogatories (often called “special ‘rogs”) are written questions that are drafted by an attorney. Form Interrogatories (often called “form ‘rogs”) are written questions which are contained in a standardized, pre-printed form.  An asking (or “propounding”) party checks the box next to each question for which a response is requested.

Requests for Admissions (often called RFAs) are typically used to encourage a party to concede certain points in an attempt to narrow the scope of the contested issues. Common examples of Requests for Admissions are:

  • Admit the stoplight was red at the time your vehicle entered the intersection.
  • Admit you never informed Mr. Johnson that the roof on your home had been repaired.

Requests for Admissions are often used in conjunction with Form Interrogatory 17.1, which requires the responding party to state all reasons why it has not admitted any of the concurrently served Request for Admissions.

Demand for Inspection (often called “Request for Production (of Documents and Things)”) enables a party to examine documents or other tangible items. A responding party is required to produce the originals for inspection by the propounding party. 

Depositions are question and answer sessions which take place outside of court, but under oath and in the presence of a certified court reporter. They are sometimes recorded by video camera. Depositions are typically the most powerful method of discovery. Depositions are expensive because they require a great deal of attorney time and because the cost for the court reporter (and for the transcript he/she prepares) will usually cost more than $1,000 per day.  Most depositions take between 2 and 8 hours to complete, but some last for several days.

Subpoenas are used with respect to persons and businesses that are not parties to the litigation. A subpoena requires the production of documents and can also require the appearance of individuals to give testimony under oath.

What things can a party ask about in discovery?

Generally, a party can ask any question which is “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” That means the scope of permissible questioning is rather broad. A question doesn’t even have to be relevant to the case, provided its answer could reasonably lead to evidence which would be relevant. Other limitations exist. For example, a party is not entitled to inquire about communications covered by the attorney-client privilege and a party can refuse to answer questions which would violate that party’s right to privacy (including financial privacy).

What if I don’t want to answer a question or produce a document?

Talk to your lawyer about it. Your first policy should be to tell your lawyer everything. Your lawyer will withhold the information or the document if there is a valid basis for doing so.

What if a party refuses to cooperate in the discovery process?

It is not uncommon for the parties to have a dispute regarding discovery. When this happens, the attorneys are required to make good faith efforts to discuss and resolve their disputes. If that does not work, either party may file a motion seeking intervention from the court. It is widely believed that almost any discovery dispute can be resolved by reasonable and fair attorneys. Accordingly, the filing of a discovery motion typically causes the court to detest some or all of the attorneys involved. Many discovery disputes are resolved after a discovery motion is filed but before the hearing takes place. If a discovery motion actually goes all the way to hearing, the court can order one or more parties to pay monetary sanctions.

Litigation in General

How much does a lawsuit cost?

Assuming you are paying your lawyer an hourly fee, this question is impossible to answer because litigation is always, at least partially, a function of what your opposition does. An attorney can give you an estimated litigation budget but it will always be somewhat speculative as nobody can predict what the other side will do. Because there are often several parties and several attorneys involved in each case, there are too many variables to allow a reliable prediction of how long the litigation last or how much it will cost.

If, however, your attorney agrees to take your case on a contingency fee, it is a little easier to predict what the cost will be. Typically, a firm will take between 33% and 45% of any recovery.  The percentage may fluctuate, depending on when the case settles. Be sure to discuss the fee schedule with your attorney.

Above and beyond the amount of money paid to your attorney for his time, a client is typically responsible to pay costs. Costs may be advanced by your attorney but they should ultimately be your responsibility. Costs usually include court filing fees, messenger fees, travel expenses, court reporter fees, postage, copy/fax charges, and other things incident to the handling of your matter. Again, you should be sure you understand your responsibility to pay costs at the outset of the representation.

 

Berger ◊ Harrison, APC
114 Pacifica, Suite 280
Irvine, California 92618
Tel (949) 548-1700
Fax (949) 548-1001
info [at] bergerharrison [dot] com
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