Bankruptcy Workouts and Insolvency
The Sapientia Team provides assistance to debtors and creditors in connection with financial matters. We represent individuals and businesses who are either in financial distress or are looking to avoid it. We represent secured lenders and unsecured creditors both inside and outside of bankruptcy and Official Committees of Unsecured Creditors appointed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy matters. We practice in all bankruptcy districts in the upper Midwest and have litigated adversary actions in bankruptcy courts around the country. We evaluate issues with client’s vendors, trying to protect our clients against harm in case a customer files bankruptcy and we proactively protect the rights of our clients if a bankruptcy filing occurs. We also work with clients and their lenders to try to avoid bankruptcy. Only by knowing what your bankruptcy options are can you negotiate for a position of strength when a loan has been called or is threatened to not be renewed. We evaluate options for sales of businesses in financial duress and we litigate when necessary to collect what is due to our clients from their customers. We talk to individuals and businesses about the pros and cons of the various kinds of bankruptcies, and file Chapter 7, 11, 12 and 13 bankruptcy cases as fits the situation of each client.
We strive to educate our clients as to the options available to them. In the area of insolvency, there is no such thing as a cookie cutter response to your problem and we only recommend filing bankruptcy when that is the best option.
Business General Counseling
Business General Counseling for Start-Up, Emerging, and Established Businesses
Not all of our clients have in-house legal departments. We often work with those business clients and their executives to serve as their “outside in-house counsel” to provide legal advice, spot legal issues arising in the business, draft and review contracts with customers, vendors, and partners, and manage claims and litigation that arise locally and across the country. Sapientia’s legal team is comprised of attorneys who have been in in-house counsel positions and who have even run their own businesses. So, by hiring Sapientia, clients have a trusted legal team to serve as their “outside in-house counsel” who know not just the laws, but also the ins and outs of owning and running a business.
Typical general counsel services we provide include the following:
- Corporate Structure/Business Entity Selection and Creation: Advice on choosing the best entity for your project or business and drafting corporate documents to meet your unique needs
- Licensing and Permits: Advice on filing, defending violations, and representation in hearings and meetings
- Construction & Design Contracts & Disputes: Negotiations, drafting, and resolving disputes
- Financing: Structuring initial financing (equity, debt, venture capital), advising on loans and equipment leases, restructuring debt, buy-outs, purchasing or selling businesses
- Real Estate: Purchase and sale agreements, leases, landlord-tenant issues, zoning issues
- Employees: Handbooks, training, legal compliance, employee agreements, employee disputes
- Contracts, Supplier Agreements: Negotiation, drafting, resolving disputes
- Trademark and Intellectual Property Matters: Assistance with choosing a trademark, registering the trademark, guidance on protection and enforcement
- Food Labeling/Packaging: _drafting and advising regarding product labels
- Buying, Selling, and Merging Existing Businesses: Guidance on sales and acquisitions of companies, assets, and real estate, including drafting and negotiation of all purchase and sale documents and advice through due diligence and closing
- Officer and Director Counseling on Fiduciary Duties
- Dispute Resolution, including Litigation, Arbitration and Mediation
- Internal Investigations: Oversight and management of internal company investigations
- Strategic Growth & Legal Risk Management: General legal advice for the strategic growth of business and to manage potential liability and risk to better protect the business and its future
Sapientia’s outside general counseling services are often structured under alternative fees to ensure predictable fees and expense to clients. There are many fee structures the firm has used to customize what works for its business clients. For example, Sapientia offers a subscription fee designed for companies (from start-ups to well-established businesses) to reduce and spread out legal expense over the year to meet clients’ budgets. This type of arrangement allows clients to budget legal services with certainty and predictability while knowing they have a legal team available to them 24/7 and on the ready for business and legal issues as they arise. Similar to a mobile phone plan, subscription fees can provide a set number of hours per month (as low as five hours) and the option to roll-over those hours for future months if not used. During the annual subscription plan, clients receive answered emails and short phone calls and a monthly check-in meeting to discuss new issues, on-going matters, business developments, and future plans.
Through its outside general counseling services, Sapientia is able to provide its business clients with part-time, on-demand legal services with a diverse team of legal professionals who make it their priority to know its clients’ businesses.
We handle a variety of business litigation for clients. The breadth of our experience shows the trust our clients place in our attorneys. Our experience in this area extends to claims and litigation regarding:
- vendor contracts
- banking disputes
- claims of product defect
- insurance issues
- employment matters
- non-compete and non-solicitation agreement
- environmental issues
- trademark infringement
- commercial leases
- government contract bid protest matters
Sapientia’s litigation clients range from start-ups and LLCs to major nonprofits and Fortune 500 corporations. Our litigators are equally effective in simple two-party disputes and in complicated multi-jurisdictional, multi-party lawsuits. We have tried and arbitrated numerous cases and handled appeals in both state and federal courts.
In order to be effective during litigation, we also work with our clients at the pre-litigation stage by advising on document preservation and the retention of electronically stored information. We always develop a strategy for document management that is efficient and cost effective for the client, sometimes utilizing third-party vendors where that makes the most sense for our clients.
In addition to core litigation/trial skills, we have particular expertise and success finding alternatives to litigation to resolve business problems. When that is not feasible, we pride ourselves in assisting and partnering with in-house counsel and litigation managers to develop litigation budgets and reserves. Not only do we strive for an excellent outcome for the client, but it is also our goal to make the in-house counsel, risk managers, and other litigations managers’ jobs easier by having hired us.
Our core values perfectly complement our corporate clients’ needs. For each engagement we tailor our litigation strategy and our fee arrangement to the business needs of each client. Throughout each matter we stay attuned to our client’s business needs and adjust our litigation strategy to serve those requirements.
Because of our size and firm model, we have the flexibility that some firms simply cannot offer. We reward our attorneys for offering adaptable billing options that complement our clients’ needs and in turn create a partnership between us.
Not only does Sapientia provide legal services and representation to businesses and non-profit organizations generally, Sapientia also provides specialized organizational consulting services to them. We have experience working with companies’ executive teams, management, and human resource departments to strategize and address personnel issues, professional development planning, and leadership enhancement. Sapientia can also offer expertise and assist corporate management teams in coming up with new ideas and strategies on how to motivate and invigorate their organizations, especially in times of leadership transition, re-assignment of job responsibilities, and promotions.
In addition to the services listed above, which apply equally to non-profit organizations, Sapientia’s attorneys are also able to consult about and facilitate strategic planning, self-assessment analysis, and organizational effectiveness.
Our primary consultant, Sarah Oquist, has had tremendous success working with individuals both personally and professionally. She provides strategies to increase competencies, to manage weaknesses, to identify roadblocks to success, and to identify barriers in personal and professional relationships. These services are sometimes sought by individuals and other times sought by companies trying to assist their employees and executives to be more productive and fulfilled. Within a handful of consulting sessions with Sarah, clients have experienced significant improvement in job satisfaction, accomplishment, and attitude.
Sapientia’s attorneys have experience representing clients in various employment-related litigation such as:
- wrongful discharge and termination claims
- whistleblower and retaliation claims
- unpaid wages, commissions, and vacation pay
- unfair competition and trade secrets
- non-compete and non-solicitation contracts
- discrimination and harassment claims
- agency proceedings
Sapientia’s attorneys have appeared in both state and federal cases in these employment matters. They have also presented employment issues to the Seventh Circuit, Eighth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.
As with all client matters, Sapientia is particularly sensitive to litigation costs that clients face. We understand the need for corporate counsel to project and meet company budgets, and we appreciate the difficulty that litigation presents in meeting those objectives. This dilemma becomes increasingly taxing as the number of employment matters rise.
Sapientia welcomes the opportunity to explore alternative fee arrangements in employment-related cases to help clients better control their litigation expenses. We are committed to finding adaptable structures that meet your business needs as well as ours.
Estate Planning, Trusts & Probate
Sapientia Law Group offers full-service estate planning and estate administration services to individuals and families. We explain the law and terminology to our clients, we listen to their goals and concerns, and we respond with sophisticated, practical and value-oriented services to achieve those planning objectives. We are proud to represent a wide spectrum of clients ranging from young couples requiring assistance with their first wills to large estates requiring sophisticated planning techniques.
Estate planning is the area of law concerned with:
- Planning for your property, including the management of your property (assets) during your life and the administration and distribution of your property after your death; and
- Planning for your person, including your health and personal care decisions and those of any minor child or dependent for whom you have responsibility during life.
Our attorneys have significant experience providing estate planning advice and regularly assist clients with the following services:
- Revocable living trusts
- Assistance with trust funding
- Powers of attorney
- Healthcare Directives
- Estate tax reduction strategies
- Guardianships and conservatorships
- Succession planning for family-owned businesses and family cabins
- Life insurance trusts and related planning
- Special needs or supplemental needs trusts
Estate planning is essential for most people. It is a primary step in planning your personal affairs. Our estate planning and estate administration practice is designed to meet our clients’ broad range of needs, from simple to sophisticated.
Sapientia’s litigators have a proven track record in insurance defense work under CGL policies, EPL policies, and D&O/E&O and other professional liability policies. We are familiar with the defense guidelines of most major insurers, are very comfortable with task-based billing, blended rates, flat/tiered fee arrangements and welcome the opportunity to enter any fee agreement that aligns interests among all participants in the tripartite relationship of insurer, insured and defense counsel.
From simple auto accidents and premises liability claims to multi-party dramshop, malpractice and employment law claims, we partner with insurers and insured parties to effectively and efficiently defend liability claims and help minimize the risk of future, similar claims.
Sapientia’s team of experienced attorneys represent individuals whose privacy rights and interests have been violated or invaded. These matters range from disclosure or misuse of such things as personal information, medical information, and protected driver’s license information. Sapientia has successfully obtained injunctive relief, monetary damages, and the recovery of reasonable attorneys’ fees on behalf of its clients in these situations.
In 2012, Sapientia handled one of the largest privacy law settlements for an individual in the history of the state of Minnesota. It was one of the first such cases arising under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act—a statute that provides for civil and criminal penalties if anyone, including law- enforcement personnel, accesses, uses or discloses an individual’s private driver’s license information from a state DMV database without a permissible purpose. This case involved over 23 departments and 145 individual peace officers. As a result of this case, significant changes in law-enforcement policies and practices in Minnesota have occurred, helping to reduce the impermissible accessing and use of other citizen’s private drivers’ license information. Portions of that case were settled for over $1,000,000.
In addition, Sapientia filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of of 5,000 Minnesotans whose private drivers’ license information was impermissibly accessed by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources employee more than 11,000 times.
Sapientia also filed a lawsuit on behalf of a local news reporter who had her private driver’s license information accessed by more than 170 law-enforcement personnel over 500 times.
In fact, Sapientia’ privacy-law team represents numerous local television and radio personalities in actions against law enforcement who accessed their sensitive private information such as social security numbers, home addresses and medical information.
Sapientia privacy-law attorney Kenn Fukuda was also quoted in a St. Paul Pioneer Press story about the firm’s representation of a client who had her private, personal drivers’ license information accessed by law enforcement more than any other reported case in Minnesota.
Sapientia’s development of its privacy law practice exemplifies several of the firm’s core values: listen to clients, deliver results, and make a difference. As with all matters, our privacy clients have the opportunity to work with a diverse, experienced team of lawyers to pursue appropriate relief when their privacy rights have been infringed or harmed.
Sapientia’s lawyers have extensive experience defending manufacturers, distributors, and retailers in personal injury, wrongful death and property damage matters throughout the United States. We have defended a wide array of products, ranging from environmental control systems and alarm systems, to pharmaceutical and medical device products, to industrial and agricultural equipment, to consumer products such as space heaters, smoke detectors and clothes dryers, and chemicals and toxic torts. Our familiarity with the state and federal courts around the country reduces the need for our clients to train local counsel on each case. Our lawyers have repeatedly gotten claims against their manufacturer clients dismissed on summary judgment, and they have a winning record in those cases that have been tried and arbitrated. Our product liability lawyers have also defeated every attempt by opposing plaintiffs to obtain punitive damages against our clients.
Our litigation team partners with manufacturing clients at every stage of product liability assessment and defense:
- We assist manufacturing clients in revising existing product literature and developing new product literature by reviewing installation/operating instructions, warnings and warranties from a litigation standpoint, for clarity and completeness.
- We counsel clients at the pre-litigation claim stage by advising on document retention and preservation of evidence issues, attending site and product inspections, retaining or advising on the selection of internal or outside liability and causation experts, and developing exit strategies for each claim to limit client exposure.
- As regional or national litigation counsel for manufacturers, we work with clients to develop substantive defense strategies as well as litigation management plans to achieve optimal use of client resources and efficient, effective use of outside counsel. We assist our clients’ litigation managers in developing appropriate litigation budgets and reserves for each case and for cumulative product-line exposure.
- We have tried numerous cases, but also recognize the value of early dispositive motions and creative approaches to alternative dispute resolution. Our goal is client satisfaction, and we accept that business considerations often require a change in strategy as a matter progresses.
Sapientia’s core values are particularly suited to clients with product-liability matters because our adaptable billing arrangements can be tailored to single or multiple claims, can complement client financial cycles or budgeting requirements, can include financial incentives for early dispositions or trial successes, and generally align Sapientia’s financial interest with that of each client. As a medium-sized firm, Sapientia is also free from the extensive overhead and substantial bureaucracy that burdens larger firms. This experience and collective wisdom on how best to manage and defend product liability claims makes Sapientia an excellent choice for manufacturers seek ing top-notch representation on product-related claims.
Sapientia attorneys offer a wide range of real estate services, ranging from realtor/broker/mortgage originator licensure and regulatory issues, to construction defect claims, to landlord/tenant issues. Sapientia’s flexible fee arrangements allow the firm to work cost-effectively in purchase and sale transactions for industrial, commercial, retail, residential, multi-family and mixed-use properties.
Our real estate team brings experience in the following additional areas of Real Property law:
- Land development and construction activities
- Title examination, survey and environmental due diligence reviews
- Real estate investment, debt and equity financing and management
- Loan documentation, modification, restructuring and enforcement
- Lender advice/assistance with receivership and foreclosure rights
- Negotiation and litigation of contract disputes, lien and priority disputes, and bankruptcy proceedings
- Lease/contract review and advice to close transactions and avoid future disputes
- Governmental approval process for zoning, platting, comprehensive planning, development agreements, environmental issues, and letters of credit
- Distressed real estate and troubled real estate loan portfolios
- Alternatives to judicial foreclosure – Deeds-in-Lieu, Voluntary Foreclosure Agreements, and Forbearance Agreements