First off, a proper engagement letter documents the understanding between you and your client as to exactly what you are hired to do. This should strengthen the relationship and ultimately be good for future business from this client.
Secondly, a proper engagement letter is critical in helping to provide the lawyer with a strong defense should the association turn into a professional liability claim.
A proper engagement letter should include a minimum of the following:
- A clear description of the scope of the representation and legal services to be performed by the attorney or firm.
- The identity of all parties for whom the insured agreed to perform such legal work.
- The fee arrangement for such legal services; and
- A description of the lawyer or firm’s file retention and destruction policy
The agreement should be signed by all parties mentioned in the engagement letter prior to the lawyer’s commencement of representation, but in no event more than thirty days after commencement of such representation.
The CNA Lawyer’s Professional Liability Program feels so strongly about the importance of these signed agreements that they will waive 50% of an insured’s deductible up to $25,000 if a signed, proper engagement letter was used for the matter/claim in controversy. Please contact me with any questions or comments.
By Dan McKenna, JD, RPLU