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professional liability engagement lettersAlmost all insureds answer "yes" to the multiple engagement letter questions on professional liability applications. However, if you check with a carrier's claims dept., an adjuster will probably tell you they see engagement letters on less than half the claims they handle. I suspect engagement letters are used initially but once an attorney's fee structure has been established, many attorneys no longer see a real need for additional retainer type documentation. I strongly believe that each new matter handled by an attorney should include a new document defining the scope of the particular representation, etc. This should greatly help you if a malpractice claim rears its ugly head in that it should help reduce the stress of a long drawn out claim and increased professional liability premiums. Yes, an evergreen type engagement letter is better than nothing and yes the increased paperwork documenting each matter being handled can add stress to the attorney client relationship but I believe your future will thank you!
By Dan McKenna, JD, RPLU
For more information regarding engagement letters for lawyers, please see the Lawyer's Toolkit.
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