Blog 16 Published: Thursday, August 19, 2021
The Law Firm Engagement Agreement
Helpful tips for prospective clients to consider in reviewing the terms of a law firm engagement agreement
Hiring an attorney can be an intimidating task. Once you’ve found the right lawyer, you may encounter an “engagement agreement”. An engagement agreement is a contract between you and your lawyer. Engagement agreements are important because they help you and your attorney set expectations and reduce risk. Most of what is included in the engagement agreement is standard terms meant to protect you and your attorney. You should feel comfortable asking your selected law firm or attorney about the engagement agreement. If your selected lawyer or firm is not available to answer your questions or refuses to, that’s a bad sign. As you review your engagement agreement, here are some provisions you may consider paying special attention to:
Scope of Work
The scope of work will set out the services your attorney will provide you the client. You’ll want to take a close look at the scope of work. You and your attorney need to identify what legal deliverables are and are not included in the attorney’s representation.2 When in doubt, ask questions.
The Fee Agreement
Do you fully understand how the law firm’s fees will be calculated? Consumers of legal services often fear the billable hour. Making any compensation-related provisions of your engagement agreement an essential piece in your review. You’ll want to read the engagement agreement carefully. Be sure you understand exactly the firm’s fee will be calculated. Does your prospective law firm add additional costs like printing, legal research, etc. to their bill? It’s best to have an understanding of things like filing fees and extra costs, so there are no surprises when it some time for you to pay for the services that the legal team is producing to benefit you.
Another thing to look for is the fee structure. Common options include hourly payments, a retainer deposit, an “evergreen” retainer, flat fees, and a contingency model.3 Different fee arrangements should be agreed upon based on your needs as a client. For example, a fixed (or flat) fee may make more sense for the production of limited short-term deliverables (e.g., producing a simple contract, etc.), while a contingency or hourly fee may be better suited where the parties are unable to predict time spend (e.g., litigation, etc.).4 For a detailed write-up demystifying law firm billing structures check-out our blog post.
Termination of the Agreement
For various reasons—whether it be on the part of the attorney or the client, the attorney-client relationship may not always go smoothly. If something was to go wrong, you’ll want to understand the process that the engagement agreement sets out for ending the professional relationship. Be sure to review the portion of the engagement agreement that provides detail on termination or ending the relationship. These three sections of an engagement agreement are important.5 And here is one more bonus tip. Some engagement agreements include information on client expectations.6 That is, what the law firm expects from the client for the professional relationship to work. Often attorneys and clients have to work closely together, share information, and be in close contact to finalize legal deliverables. As the client, you are responsible for the reliability and accuracy of the information you provide to your attorney and it’s important that you are available to respond to any questions your attorney sends to you.
The best thing you can do as a consumer of legal services is to educate yourself about the process, carefully read any contract before signing it, and ask questions when you don’t understand how something works. At CORPlaw, our team is available to answer follow-up questions our prospective clients have about their engagement agreement.
About CORPlaw. Headquartered in Miami, FL, CORPlaw is a boutique business law firm that helps modern entrepreneurs grow and protect their business. Founded in 2017, this minority and female-owned law firm has advised countless small business owners, startups, and creatives through the state of Florida, the national, and abroad. The CORPlaw team continues to grow and build a reputation of professional excellence and client satisfaction. Contact CORPlaw today at 1 (833) 545-7526, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on our website (www.corplaw.us).
This article is for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice. By using this blog site, you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the blog site publisher. The blog site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.