Last Updated July 2022
Thank you for selecting me to perform legal services for you. I look forward to working with you. When legal services are needed, most people have questions about the cost of those services and the terms of my representation. In anticipation of those questions, and to explain my billing procedures, I have developed this memorandum.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
I agree to provide you with those legal services referenced in your letter of engagement. It is my responsibility to develop a clear understanding of your legal questions and needs, and to resolve them as efficiently as possible, with special attention to your unique circumstances. I commit myself to communicate clearly with you and to avoid the unnecessary use of confusing legal terminology. I intend to be accessible to you and will welcome your questions.
I have a duty to communication with you. I will provide you with copies of all papers that I prepare (other than internal memoranda and notes), including correspondences and papers filed with any court and any other governmental agencies, such as taxing authorities.
You agree to cooperate with me and to provide, in a timely fashion, all information known and available to you that may help me represent you. I will assume the family and financial information you provide is complete and correct. At this time, we agree that there are no known conflicts of interest. You affirmatively promise to disclose any conflicts, which develop during the course of my representation. In addition to the duty to communicate, I have ethical duties of care and confidentiality toward you as a client. The duty of care means I must handle your affairs competently and diligently.
The duty of confidentiality, sometimes called the “attorney-client privilege” means that I must keep the matters you reveal to me confidential. I will not disclose any information whatsoever to anyone other than you except as specifically permitted by you or impliedly authorized in order to fulfill my representation. I reserve the right to refuse disclosure of confidential and privileged information under any condition or circumstances.
You agree to review any documents carefully and thoroughly and to contact me with any changes to be made. By signing this engagement letter, you agree that you will read and review the documents thoroughly before and after they are signed and to consult with me as to any documents or provisions you do not understand. No attorney is error-proof. Your thorough review of the documents is important to ensure that I have the facts straight and am addressing your objectives. Further, you will never offend me by seeking a second opinion from an attorney qualified to review my work.
I agree to bill you for my services according to the terms in the engagement letter.
If I bill you on an hourly basis, this means I bill for time spent on your matter. The time recorded will be billed in increments of 1/10 of an hour (six minutes). For example, if eighteen minutes are spent making a telephone call and preparing a brief letter, the charge will be for .3 of an hour. My current billing rate is $250.00 per hour, but it may be increased by me without prior notice to you (but only once each year). I may require a retainer before work is commenced, which is to be paid.
I also charge for “Out of Pocket” costs or expenses, which most frequently includes, but is not limited to, court filing fees, travel expenses, recording and certification fees, computerized legal research, courier services, professional fees, overnight express mail and photocopying of my file if you request a copy.
Monthly, I will provide you with an itemized statement of services and costs to be paid in full within 30 days after you receive the statement. If you pay later than 30 days after you receive the statement, you will be charged a time-price differential calculated at the rate of 1.5 percent of the balance per month from the due date until paid. I reserve the right to suspend any legal services if you fail to pay my fees and costs in a timely manner.
If you do experience a problem regarding on-time payment, please contact me to arrange a mutually satisfactory alternate arrangement.
THE LIMITS OF MY PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP
You may terminate this agreement at any time by giving me written notice. I may terminate this agreement at any time by giving you at least 15 days’ written notice. In either case, I retain the right to collect all outstanding fees and costs at the time of termination.
Once the work described in the engagement letter is completed, my engagement for that purpose will be concluded and our attorney-client relationship will terminate. However, any duty of confidentiality which I owe you under the “attorney-client privilege” will continue. There is no implied representation that I can or will provide any further service beyond the engagement period and scope of service without first negotiating a new contract in writing. However, this agreement will control all future work except to the extent that I have otherwise agreed in writing. If you need my services in the future, please feel free to contact me to renew our relationship.
OWNERSHIP OF “THE FILE”
At your request, your papers and property will be returned to you promptly upon receipt of payment for outstanding fees and costs. I will see to it that you have copies of all relevant correspondence and final legal documents that relate to my representation of you. I will, nevertheless, supply you with additional copies of correspondence and other documents previously given to you during my representation, provided you reimburse me for the copying charges. It is agreed however, that my own files, including notes, drafts, research materials, internal memoranda, and other lawyer work product, whether or not created during the course of my representation of you, will belong to me and will not be subject to copying or delivery to you.
RETENTION OF DOCUMENTS
At the conclusion of my initial representation period, I will deliver a copy of any original documents to you. For various reasons, including the minimization of unnecessary storage expenses, I reserve the right to destroy or otherwise dispose of any such documents or other materials in such a manner as to preserve your confidentiality, without any further notice to you, after 5 years from the termination of this engagement.
If these terms are acceptable to you, please date and sign the engagement letter and return it to me. If you have any questions concerning the letter or this memorandum, please contact me promptly so that the matter can be resolved to our mutual satisfaction.