Establishing Realistic Expectations - Articles

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Posted by: Barry Kolar on May 15, 2014

After the screening process has been completed and a decision to represent the client has been made, the attorney should discuss the merits and problems of the client’s case with the client. It is important that the attorney convey verbally and in writing (via an engagement letter) the following to the client:

• The issues involved with the case.

• The problems regarding the case.

• The process involved in pursuing the case.

• The client’s obligations throughout the case and any specific requirements of the client.

• The estimated time frame for case resolution.

• The economics of taking the case to trial or settling the case.

• The attorneys and/or staff who will be involved with the case.

• How the firm will manage the case.

• How the firm will communicate case status with the client.

• Warning: Avoid any guarantees to the client regarding the outcome of the case.

Remember, that you need for your client to have signed a retainer agreement or contract for representation which demonstrates their clear understanding of what they have hired you to do and what the cost will be for that work.  Case acceptance guidelines and good client and case screening procedures are the first steps in building a profitable, quality practice. Doing good work will ensure that good clients and cases continue to walk in the door.

Resources used for this piece and which may be beneficial to you in establishing case acceptance and client intake procedures are:

The Lawyer’s Desk Guide to Preventing Legal Malpractice, American Bar Association Standing Committee on Lawyer’s Professional Liability. (Available through the TNBAR Management Services Library.)

Risk Management, Survival Tools for Law Firms, by Anthony E. Davis, ABA published jointly by the Section of Law Practice Management and Center for Professional Responsibility. (Available through the TNBAR Management Services Library.)