The other side of engagement letters

balance advantages of written agreements with additional exposure from extended statute of limitations
April 20, 2011
Fulton County Daily Report

For years, Georgia lawyers have been strongly encouraged to confirm every legal representation in writing, with either an engagement letter or a fee contract signed by their clients. Plaintiffs' attorneys now routinely use written agreements to document the precise terms of their undertaking. Engagement letters (countersigned by clients) are standard in file opening checklists for law firms. This practice has become so commonplace that many legal malpractice insurers now seek confirmation in their applications that law firms use engagement letters and/or fee contracts.

There are good reasons why this is true. Engagement letters and/or fee contracts accomplish several important goals beneficial to both attorneys and clients. For example, engagement letters and fee contracts provide the parties with written confirmation of their mutual understanding of: (i) who the clients are; (ii) what the attorney has agreed to do (the scope of the representation); and, (iii) what the fee will be. By plainly stating the terms in writing, attorneys and clients can avoid many of the misunderstandings that often lead to malpractice claims.

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