Tip of the Month

Tip for February 2011

Identify the Scope of Your Representation at the Outset

One of the most effective ways a lawyer can avoid a claim of malpractice is to make explicit from the start the basic parameters of the attorney-client relationship, including the scope of the engagement.  Leaving the scope of the engagement vague or ambiguous may lead to a misunderstanding by the client as to what you are doing and not doing on the client's behalf.  For example, many claims are brought against workers' compensation attorneys for failing to file third party actions.  Although the lawyers believed that they undertook only to pursue the workers compensation claims, the clients believed that the lawyers were handling all of their claims arising out of the incident.  Clients have prevailed in such claims when the lawyer's engagement agreement did not make it clear that the lawyer was not handling such claims.  As a result, engagement letters should explain to clients what the lawyer is handling and what the lawyer is not handling.