A lawyer engagement letter is a document which is directed towards the client. It is signed by both the client and the lawyer who is going to represent them. The form is basically meant to reduce to writing the basic agreement regarding the duties of the client, the lawyer and the law firm.
The form basically identifies the roles of the lawyer and the client with respect to each other. Also, the form is very important for fixing the lawyer’s fee. It is usually filled after the preliminary meeting where the problem areas are identified along with the names of the parties involved.
The form starts with a blank in which the name of the person who wishes to avail the services of the lawyer/ law firm needs to be added. They are referred to as the client in the form after that. The next blank requires the filling of the name of the law firm and the lawyer that they intend to hire. After that, the matter at hand needs to be described in brief in the blank space provided. One generally needs to mention what type of case the lawyer is being hired for, whether it is a criminal case or a civil case and so on.
The next section is concerned with the fee that must be paid to the lawyer as compensation for their legal services. The fees is calculated on an hourly basis and the fees for the paralegal is separate as well. An initial advance deposit is agreed upon by the firm and the client and needs to be mentioned in the form.
The fees for the lawyer is non-inclusive of the court fees or any other charges incurred during the case. Towards the end of the form any additional terms that the client and the lawyer may have agreed upon need to be mentioned or they won’t be binding on the lawyer or the client. The state in which the contract is signed will be the governing legal body on the contract.
At the end of the form, the date needs to be mentioned along with the signature of both the client as well the attorney.
Text version of this Form
I, ______________________________, the undersigned client (hereinafter referred to as “I,” “me” or the “Client”), do hereby retain and employ ___________________________ and his law firm (hereinafter referred to as “Attorney”), as my Attorney to represent me in connection with the following matter:
1. ATTORNEY’S FEES. As compensation for legal services, I agree to pay my Attorney as follows:
Hourly Fee — with Advance Deposit
I agree to pay Attorney’s Fees at the rate of $________ per hour and paralegal fees at the rate of $________ per hour. I agree that time is billed in increments of 6 minutes.
It is understood and agreed that I shall pay Attorney an initial Advance Deposit of $__________ due upon Attorney’s acceptance of this agreement, which deposit shall be applied toward the payment of Attorney’s fees and costs and expenses. This deposit shall be deposited into Attorney’s trust account, and Attorney is authorized to pay Attorney’s fees and costs and expenses out of the existing deposit, at least on a monthly basis. Periodically Attorney shall provide me with itemized Statements for Professional Services Rendered (including costs and expenses). Should the work performed by Attorney exceed the amount held in trust, I agree to replenish the Advance Deposit upon Attorney’s request. Should no request be made, I agree to pay all invoices submitted by the firm within 30 days of receipt. I agree that, pursuant to this agreement, Attorney shall have, in addition to other rights, the right to withdraw as my Attorney based on my failure substantially to fulfill an obligation to Attorney.
It is understood and agreed that Attorney is authorized, with my prior knowledge and written consent, to employ other attorneys to work on my case. Said additional attorney’s fees shall be paid solely by me; and Attorney is authorized to deduct said fees from any Advance Deposit made by me.
2. COSTS AND EXPENSES. In addition to paying Attorney’s fees, I agree to pay all costs and expenses in connection with Attorney’s handling of this matter. I agree to promptly reimburse Attorney for any amount in excess of what is being held in deposit. These costs may include (but are not limited to) the following: long distance telephone charges, photocopying ($______per page), postage, facsimile costs, express delivery charges, deposition fees, expert fees, subpoena costs, court costs, sheriff’s and service fees, travel expenses and investigation fees. Should the advance be exhausted by the payments of costs, expenses or fees, I agree to replenish the advance promptly upon Attorney’s request. If I fail to replenish the advance within ten (10) days of Attorney’s request, Attorney shall have, in addition to other rights, the right to withdraw as my Attorney.
3. NO GUARANTEE. I acknowledge that Attorney has made no promise or guarantee regarding the outcome of my legal matter. In fact, Attorney has advised me that litigation in general is risky, can take a long time, can be very costly and can be very frustrating. I further acknowledge that Attorney shall have the right to cancel this agreement and withdraw from this matter if, in Attorney’s professional opinion, the matter does not have merit, I do not have a reasonably good possibility of recovery, I refuse to follow the recommendations of Attorney, and/or I fail to abide by the terms of this agreement, and/or if Attorney’s continued representation would result in a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or at any other time as or if permitted under by the Rules of Professional Conduct.
4. ADDITIONAL TERMS. Attorney and Client agree to the following additional terms: _________________________________________________________________
5. CONTROLLING LAW. This contract shall be governed by the state law of ______________ .
6. TERMINATION OF REPRESENTATION. I understand that I have the right to terminate the representation upon written notice to that effect. I understand that I will be responsible for any fees or costs incurred prior to the discharge or termination. At the time of any termination in the representation, I understand that I will be given an accounting for all fees, expenses and costs. Any unearned portion of the deposit will be returned to me. I will still be responsible for paying any fees, costs or expenses in excess of the advance deposit.
7. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. I have read this agreement in its entirety and I agree to and understand the terms and conditions set forth herein. I acknowledge that there are no other terms or oral agreements existing between Attorney and Client. This agreement may not be amended or modified in any way without the prior written consent of Attorney and Client.
This agreement is executed by me, the undersigned Client, on this ______ day of ____________ , 20___.
This agreement is hereby accepted on this ______ day of ____________ , 20___.