Attorneys use written engagement agreements, also known as fee agreements, when taking on a new matter with a new or existing client. Engagement agreements are contracts that outline the obligations of the attorney and client, the scope of the work, and fees. As a paralegal, you might be asked to draft an engagement agreement for attorney review.
This Practical Assignment #4 asks you to prepare an engagement agreement based on the fact pattern below. Please do the following:
Read the fact pattern
Your supervising attorney asks you to draft an engagement agreement for her review. She gives you her notes, which read:
New client: ABC Manufacturing, Inc.
Needs help with defending lawsuit filed by XYZ, Inc. (XYZ, Inc. v. ABC Manufacturing, Inc.) for construction defect. Case is currently pending in the County of Alameda. Filed 1/1/2020.(We aren’t representing this client on any other matter without a separate engagement agreement.)
Client will be truthful and cooperate, no withholding information. Client will keep Attorney informed of any information regarding the case. Client will pay bills on time, and keep Attorney advised of any changes to address or contact information.
Client will provide any information and documents requested by Attorney, allow access to company witnesses. Timely responses needed from client.
Client will make initial deposit of $25,000 as fee advance. The hourly charges/costs will be applied against this deposit. This deposit and any future deposits will be held in Attorney’s Client Trust Account. Client authorizes Attorney to use deposit to pay fees and other charges.
Client acknowledges that deposit is just an advance. Not total amount that will be charged.
Attorney will send Client a bill every 30 days. 14 days after mailing, Attorney will withdraw charged amounts from the Client Trust Account. Client has 10 days from the date of mailing to file written objection to the bill (by emailing the firm). If Attorney receives written objection, Attorney will not withdraw amounts from Trust Account until dispute is resolved.
Client agrees to replenish money in Client Trust Account as needed. If any money remains in Client Trust Account after Attorney’s final bill, that money will be refunded to Client. Actual fees might vary from estimates given.
Attorney charges $250 an hour. Paralegal charges $100 per hour. Rates might change provided attorney gives 30 days written notice. Failure to pay = Attorney may withdraw from representation as permitted by Rules of Conduct and/or any applicable law.
Time will be billed in one-tenth of an hour (0.1). Attorney charges for all time spent on matter, including travel time. Client will pay Attorney meals during travel.
We will represent client on above-mentioned case only. Provide whatever legal services are reasonably required in representation. Attorney will make reasonable efforts to respond to client inquiries and keep client informed about the case.
Client can discharge Attorney at any time. Has to pay any balance on fees due. Attorney can withdraw with Client’s consent or for good cause or if permitted by law or rules of conduct.
Attorney has professional liability insurance.
Insert a Disclaimer of Guarantee provision – nothing in this agreement can be construed as a promise or guarantee about the outcome. Any statements about outcome of matter are opinion.
When Attorney’s services conclude, all unpaid fees are due and payable.
Client can access case file by setting up time to review in Attorney office. Attorney will retain case file for 4 years after conclusion of matter. File will be destroyed after 4 years from this date.
Agreement will not be effective until Client signs agreement, pays initial deposit, and Attorney signs the agreement.
Insert clauses for Entire Agreement, Severability, Effective Date, Governing Law (CA).
Please prepare an engagement agreement that reflects your attorney’s notes. Your contract should:
Accurately and completely state all of the details provided in the notes.
Use separate contract clauses with headings.
Redraft the notes in complete sentences.
Group similar provisions in the same paragraph (e.g., “Consideration” or “Compensation”). This will take some reorganization – your supervising attorney does not take notes in a coherent manner.
Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
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