Estimating the cost of a transaction

One of my favorite things to do is assist clients in buying and selling businesses.  I feel honored to be involved in such an important business/life decision, especially when the client has worked for many years to build the business to a point where it is ready for sale, or where the purchase of a new company represents a new chapter in the buyer's life.  During the intial meeting, clients always ask how much the fees will be.  The truth is, unless I have agreed to work on the transaction for a percentage of the sale price, legal fees can vary widely.  Some parties have already worked out most aspects of the deal and just need a lawyer to review the details from a legal perspective and make sure everything is kosher.  Other times, the parties may have vaguely discussed an outline of the transaction, but aren't sure about the time frame, purchase price, payment schedule, liabilities, or even whether the seller will still remain involved in the business.  As you can imagine, the first scenario will involve much less of an attorney's time than the second.  In a situation where many details still need to be worked out, sometimes my role shifts from stricly being a business lawyer to acting as more of a sounding board and friend.  Buying or selling a business can be an exciting and stressful time and I'm always happy to make my clients' lives a little easier by working side by side with them through the transactions.