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How to Deal with a Client & Networking PART I: HOW TO DEAL WITH A CLIENT PART II: NETWORKING/INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS Professor Steve Kester ’78 Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Deal with a Client & Networking PART I: HOW TO DEAL WITH A CLIENT PART II: NETWORKING/INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS Professor Steve Kester ’78 Professor."— Presentation transcript:


2 How to Deal with a Client & Networking PART I: HOW TO DEAL WITH A CLIENT PART II: NETWORKING/INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS Professor Steve Kester ’78 Professor Reagan Boyce ‘06 Archer Norris, PLC Ezra Brutzkus Gubner, LLP Professor Mitch Federer ’09 Business & Legal Affairs, GRB Entertainment

3 HOW TO DEAL WITH A CLIENT Professor Steve Kester, Professor Reagan Boyce, Professor Mitch Federer

4 In-Class Exercise Client Intake First Meeting The Top Ten Questions

5 Client Intake Checklist Client’s full name Client’s contact information: o Address o Work phone o Home phone o Fax o Mobile o E-mail o Note: Ask Client what would be their preferred method of communication and whether there is anyone else who needs to be in the reporting loop. Caution: Be careful to maintain the attorney-client communication privilege. o Note: Good idea to confirm potential client’s identity by asking for some form of picture identification such as a CDL or Passport.

6 Names of potential adverse parties and their contact information. Client Intake Checklist

7 Brief description of the nature of dispute, issue or request for legal services Client Intake Checklist

8 What is the prospective client’s objective and can it realistically be obtained? Note: If the objective is unlikely to be achieved, is this a client you really want to take on? Client Intake Checklist

9 Is there an urgency? When does the matter need to be addressed and how? Client Intake Checklist

10 Client documents needed: o Correspondence, e-mails, fax transmissions o Agreements/contracts/warranties o Photographs o Plans and specifications o Insurance policies o Medical records/lab reports/x-ray films o Law enforcement reports, such as Traffic Collision Report, Arrest Report, Vehicle Inspection Report. o Note: If the prospective client did not bring all of the relevant documents to the initial interview, when will they be provided? Client Intake Checklist

11 Have any other attorneys been involved? If so, obtain their names, the identity of the potential party they represent, and pertinent contact information Client Intake Checklist

12 Fee arrangement: o Deposit o Hourly rates  Attorneys Partners Associates  Paralegals  Administrative o Contingency o Mixed o How will costs be handled? Client Intake Checklist

13 Fee Agreement: When will it be prepared, signed and returned to attorney? Note: Be careful to advise potential client that representation does not start until the signed fee agreement has been received. Client Intake Checklist

14 Reporting requirements: o When (e.g.; monthly, quarterly, after important developments) o What should be reported  Summary of current facts  Procedural developments  Next steps  Budget  Objectives  Recommendations o Method of reporting (e.g.; formal letter, e-mail, telephone call) Client Intake Checklist

15 Who is the Client?

16 Written Fee Agreements

17 Hourly litigation matters – Required for services over $1000 – Client must be provide with a duplicate copy of the fully executed agreement – Basis for compensation must be set out Responsibilities of attorney Responsibilities of client – Failure to comply with above renders agreement voidable at option of client. Thereafter, attorney entitled to a “reasonable” fee. Hourly non-litigation matters (Note: Subject to same above requirements as hourly litigation matters.)

18 Written Fee Agreements Contingency cases – Same requirements as hourly matters – Plus, a statement of the contingency fee amount, an explanation as to how disbursements and costs will affect the contingency fee and client’s recovery, and an explanation of how related matters are to be compensated that are not part of the contingency agreement. Flat-rate projects

19 Written Fee Agreements No malpractice insurance. Attorney must inform the client in writing if the representation will exceed 4 hours. Fee Agreements are examined in light most favorable to client because the Attorney-Client relationship is a fiduciary relationship. Fee Agreement must be signed by both the attorney and the client. Standard fees, rates and charges should be set-out clearly and enumerated in detail. Be over inclusive here. Surcharges and mark-up may be ethical issues.

20 Written Fee Agreements Fee Agreements must disclose nature of the duties and services to be performed by attorney. Billings must state amount, rate and basis for attorney fees and costs (e.g.; 2.0 hours at $300/hour was spent on a particular project such as drafting of a proposed complaint). A bill for “services rendered” is not sufficient. Information in a Fee Agreement is to be both a detailed disclosure and set forth in an understandable format. Always take the time to explain the terms of the agreement to and determine that the client understands its terms.

21 Client Communications Who the client is will determine how communication happens

22 Do’s and Don’ts of Client Communications - Importance of responding to the client  Never fail to return a call or email  Work out a system with your secretary, receptionist, assistant for managing client communications

23 How do you address the client?  Who is allowed to communicate with the client  Verify who is signing the letter, progress report, etc.  Email communications, sending letter in pdf attachment, not Word document  Letter communications  Person to person or telephone communications

24 Corporate vs. Private Client Communications

25 Progress Reports  Letter versus Formal Report  Corporate Client minimum reporting requirements  SAMPLE REPORT TO CORPORATE CLIENT


27 Client/Insurance Company Report Executive Summary Condensed high level review of relevant facts, procedural status, liability assessment and itemization of damages claimed.

28 Client/Insurance Company Report Detailed Summary of Case Facts Much more in depth recitation of the facts of the case as known on the date of the report.

29 Client/Insurance Company Report Procedural Status of Case Detailed chronology and description of the pleadings filed to date and the dates on which they were filed.

30 Client/Insurance Company Report Discovery Plan When will the following be commenced and completed:  Interrogatories;  Document Productions, including SDTs to non-party witnesses;  Request for Admissions;  Depositions, including parties and non-party witnesses;  Defense medical examinations;  Site inspections.

31 Client/Insurance Company Report Court and Jurisdiction Explanation of where the case is filed and why.

32 Client/Insurance Company Report Parties o Plaintiffs; o Defendants; o Others who may be responsible but are not yet named parties.

33 Client/Insurance Company Report Trial Judge Identification of the judge who is likely to preside over the trial of the action, including: – Educational background – Experience prior to becoming a judge – Date of appointment or election – Previous experience with this judge

34 Client/Insurance Company Report Plaintiff’s Counsel and Firm Identify the attorney who is likely to be lead trial counsel for the action, including educational background, prior experience with cases of this type, success rate, and any previous experience with this attorney. Defense Counsel Who Will Try this Case Describe background and experience.

35 Client/Insurance Company Report Analysis of Complaint and Causes of Action Review law applicable to each cause of action and the facts necessary to establish the claim.

36 Client/Insurance Company Report Liability Analysis Assess the likelihood of prevailing against the claims of plaintiff and any cross-complaints versus other persons or entities (e.g.; indemnity claims, express or equitable).

37 Client/Insurance Company Report Damages Analysis Evaluate the value of this case, including: – An assessment of injuries to plaintiff – Monetary losses such as loss of income – Medical expenses past and future – Residual long-term deficits – General damages – Punitive damages – Any liens in existence

38 Client/Insurance Company Report Trial Strategy Assessment of themes of the case and its presentation from the perspective of both plaintiff and defendant, identification of expected witnesses (lay and experts), documentary evidence needed, motions in limine,

39 Client/Insurance Company Report jury instructions, verdict forms, jury verdict research results, joint and several exposure potential, desirability of having appellate counsel attend trial.

40 Client/Insurance Company Report Settlement Potential What is the current status of any settlement discussions? Is there a mediation conference or other form of ADR set or anticipated? If so, when, where, who will attend and who with preside over conference.

41 Client/Insurance Company Report Anticipated Outcome o Duration of trial; o Estimated cost through trial; o Likelihood of a favorable verdict.

42 First Impression - Body language? Handshake, firm Eye contact Tone of voice Dealing with difference in age between you and the client

43 Mike Sudal/The Wall Street Journal based on photo by Philibert Leow

44 Managing Client Expectations

45 Document your Client Communications Always send a written letter confirming strategy, advice on course of action, client decision on course of action, decisions regarding settlement decisions If you recommend a course of action, send a confirming letter Keep record of communications

46 Dealing with Difficult Clients Ending the client relationship Refusing to take a case


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