Sunday, October 24, 2010

A couple of new cases illustrate the importance of attorney engagement letters

This is something we should be teaching in law school, if it isn't already covered by a professional responsibility course.  Thanks to Professor Mitch Rubinstein at our sister publication, the Adjunct Prof Blog, for pointing out this article from the New York Law Journal noting the two recent cases. 

Since the NYLJ is subscription only, thanks (again) to Brother Rubinstein for summarizing the pertinent parts here:

The [first] case [unnamed but presumably from N.Y.] . . . implicitly recognizes the value of preparing non-engagement letters when dealing directly with unrepresented parties. An explicit communication of non-engagement is especially valuable when the law firm has formerly represented the now opposing, non-represented party. Any communications with non-represented parties should begin with a written statement that the lawyer is not representing that party, and recommending that the party retain his own attorney if he feels it is necessary.

The second case, from New Jersey, also illustrates the importance of crafting engagement letters to identify with clarity who are—and who are not—intended to be the clients in a newly forming attorney-client relationship. In Kurre v. Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith, Ravin, Davis, and Himmel, LLP, 2010 WL 2090092 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div., April 16, 2010).

Read the rest at the Adjunct Law Prof blog here.


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