Engagement Legal by gailfan9112


									Engagement Letter

Dear [name of your client]:

RE: Agreement for legal services
Thank you for choosing my firm for your legal services. We look forward to working with
you. We want to handle your legal matter promptly and effectively, and we hope you’ll
let us know if there is any way we can improve the service we provide.

Service to be rendered
We confirm that you have retained us to perform the following legal services on your
        [Set out the legal services in sufficient detail that the client knows just what you
        have agreed to do and, equally important, what you have not agreed to do. The
        detail will depend on the nature of the matter and sophistication of the client.
        With a new client, its better to err on the side of over-informing. Use plain

As our client, you will decide the general direction your matter will follow (for example,
[Include a concrete example such as: do we negotiate or go to court? Accept a
settlement offer? Incorporate or form a partnership?]) Before taking any major step,
we’ll ask for your instructions on how you want to proceed. We’ll usually make a
recommendation, but the final decision will be yours. We’ll then provide the legal
services necessary to carry out your instructions. We can make no guarantees about the
outcome of your matter, but we will give you the best legal services we can.

[This paragraph is for litigation files only] You should be aware that winning your case
in court does not necessarily mean you will actually recover the money the court awards.
If the defendant is insolvent, uninsured, or uncooperative, further proceedings may be
needed to recover the money. In some cases recovery may not be possible, even after
further proceedings are taken.

Two-way communication will be very important in our relationship. If you ever need
clarification of what we are doing, please call or make an appointment for a meeting. If
you have any information that might help us to handle your matter, please let us know.
We’ll report to you from time to time by letter, telephone, or in person and send you
copies of correspondence we send or receive and documents we prepare. If you need
further explanation of a document or correspondence you receive from us, please call us
right away. It is your responsibility to keep us informed of any change in your mailing
address or phone number.

Privilege and confidentiality
Certain communications between solicitor and client are absolutely confidential. This
confidentiality is known as the “solicitor-client privilege”. Because of it, you can give us
all the facts relevant to your matter without fear that those facts will become public. We
cannot be compelled by the tax department, the police, the government, or the courts to
divulge information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege. The solicitor-client
privilege is your privilege, not ours, so only you can waive it. Not all solicitor-client
communications are privileged. The privilege only arises when a client reveals
information in confidence to obtain legal advice or services. Information you give us that
is not privileged we treat as confidential. Our ethical rules define the limited
circumstances in which we can disclose confidential information. If you have any
questions about privilege or confidentiality, please feel free to ask them.

Time needed
Legal matters sometimes take considerable time to resolve.
       [Set out your estimate of the time required for this file and include any
       contingencies that might change that estimate. Also, state any time limitations
       that might apply.]

Charges for our services
     [Set out the basis on which your fees will be determined in sufficient detail to
     comply with the Code of Professional Conduct, Chapter 13, Rule 2. Some sample
     clauses follow; use only the clause that applies to your agreement with this

[1. Hourly rate or time basis]
We charge by the hour for the time we spend on the matter. Our charges include the
time we spend on telephone calls, meetings, preparation, sending correspondence,
receiving and reviewing correspondence drafting documents, travel, reviewing
documents and files, research, court appearances, and generally all time spend providing
your legal services. We record the time and services rendered and, where appropriate,
will include that record in the bills we send you.

The current hourly rates for the lawyers who will be working for you are: [Set out
lawyers and charge rates.] We’ll notify you before changing these rates. If you have any
questions about our rates, please ask.

[2. Hourly rate or time basis, with value review on completion of matter]
        [Repeat the information in number 1 above and add:]
We may adjust your final bill up or down to a fair and reasonable amount based on
factors such as:
        a) the nature of the matter, its difficulty and urgency, its importance to you, its
           monetary value, and the need for special skills or services

       b) the results we obtained

       c) the likelihood, if made known to you, that accepting this retainer will mean
          that we are unable to accept other employment

       d) any estimate we have given you

       e) the direct costs we incur in providing the services

[3. Flat-rate charge]
Our fee will be $ [amount], plus disbursements and other charges. This flat-rate quote
assumes that we can complete your matter as anticipated when the quote was given. We
may have to increase the fee if the matter becomes significantly more complex or time-
consuming than we originally estimated.

[4. Contingency fees]
Our fees will be a percentage of the amount, if any, recovered, as proved in the
contingency fee agreement that [you have signed] [will be prepared for you to sign].
We will register that agreement with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.

Disbursements are payments we make to third parties to carry your matter forward.
Some examples of disbursements are charges for long distance telephone and fax,
courier, travel, process service, surveys, searches, transcripts, certificates. Other
examples are fees payable to the Land Titles Office, Corporate Registry, and the court.
You’ll be responsible for paying our disbursements on your matter. You’ll also be
responsible for paying any GST on the disbursements.

Other charges
Regarding other charges for non-legal services, [Option 1] we will bill you only for
photocopying. All other items will be supplied as part of our fee. [Option 2] We will bill
for the following other charges, which will be shown under the fees heading on the bills
we send you: [Set out list of other charges].

If you have any questions about these charges, please call. We want you to have a full
understanding of the basis on which we charge for non-legal services.

Our fees are subject to GST, which will be added to your bill.

Unless special arrangements are made, we require our clients to pay some up-front
money to cover the fees and disbursements for the next block of work to be done. We
keep this retainer money in a trust account, use it for disbursements as they are incurred,
and apply it to pay fees when we send you our bill. [Explain how any time limits that
may be involved in the particular case can be jeopardized if the retainer is not paid
before the time limit expires. If the client has already paid the retainer, acknowledge
receipt of it. ] When we submit a bill to you, we may ask you to bring the retainer back up
to its previous level.

Trust accounts
We maintain a separate bank account for money we hold in trust for our clients. The
Law Society has established very strict standards for these trust accounts. A professional
accountant reviews them annually and reports the results to the Law Society; the Law
Society also conducts spot audits.

In most cases, the interest on trust accounts goes to the Law Foundation of Alberta and
is used for law reform and public legal education. However, if we will be holding a large
sum in trust for you for an extended time, you can ask us to open a separate trust
account with the interest payable to you.

To keep you informed about how much the matter is costing you and to allow us to
continue to carry on business while the matter proceeds, we will send you an interim bill
every [e.g., month]. When your matter is completed, we’ll send a final bill. All bills,
including interim bills, are due when rendered. After 30 days, we charge interest on the
outstanding balance at [rate] per year until the bill is fully paid.
Terminating legal services
We sincerely hope that neither of us will find it necessary to end our relationship early.
However, if either of us decides to end our relationship, we will expect you to pay all
outstanding bills before we release your file.

If you decide to terminate my services, I will render a final accounting covering unbilled
time, other charges and disbursements. You will have to pay this account and all other
outstanding accounts before the file will be released to you. If you have any questions
about terminating services, please call and ask.

Please return enclosed copy
If this letter reflects your understanding of our relationship, please sign and return the
enclosed copy. In keeping with our firm’s policy, we can’t start work for you until we
have received both the signed letter and your retainer.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service. Again, we look forward to working with

Yours sincerely,                             I have read and agreed to the terms within this
                                             retainer letter
[Name of the lawyer]

                                             Name of client

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