Engagement Party: Your Fee Agreement Is More than a Recitation of the Cost of Legal Services

Many attorneys will try to rush through the drafting and explanation of a fee agreement.  The job, as they see it, is to get the fee out there and to define the scope of legal services as quickly as possible so that the client will sign off, and so that the lawyer can go back to what they really want to do, which is to practice substantive law.

But there’s so much more that you can do with your engagement agreements to make them truly engaging (see what I did there?) and to set the tone for a more useful attorney-client relationship.

Here are three potential additions you could consider to your standard fee agreement that will truly turn it in to an engagement agreement:

  • Add a Technology Clause.  In part, to better govern client communications (more on that in a second), you should relay to your clients the technology you use in the firm.  This will also allow you to get their sign-off on using that technology stack and allow them the opportunity to object to what your propose.  In most cases, clients will just use the tech you want them to, and in the end, you can even have them initial this section of the fee agreement to affirm their assent.  This also has the potential to make you look like a tech-forward law firm, focused on efficiency, which many clients will appreciate.
  • Add a Client Communications Clause.  Tired of getting texts from clients in the middle of the night?  (Don’t answer those – at least right away, by the way.)  Then set expectations ahead of time.  You can use a technology clause to lay the groundwork for this before talking to your clients about the technology tools you prefer they use to communicate with you.  You can also set times for when you will not be available, as well as creating an expectation for when a response will arrive, e.g. – in 24 to 48 hours via email.
  • Add a Document Disposition Clause.  This is really helpful in terms of managing law firm logistics because it’s a forcing function for generating a document management policy in a law firm, which would include a document destruction policy.  This also creates a future marketing opportunity if you decide to provide your clients with a file when their case closes.  Perhaps you do that via an encrypted thumb drive with your branding in place?

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Want to tighten up your fee agreements?  We can help!

The Wyoming State Bar offers free law practice management consulting services through Red Cave Law Firm Consulting.

To request a consult, visit the Wyoming State Bar’s law practice management page, and start running your law firm like a business.

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