Setting Expectations

One of the biggest opportunities when exploring LSR services with a prospective client is also one of the most important risk management tasks:  making sure the lawyer and client agree on the exact scope of services the lawyer will provide.

Examples of ways to document this are available in my book and other places, so I won’t cover that now.  My point today focuses on the agreement between lawyer and client.

In their rush to obtain legal assistance, clients often practice “selective disclosure” and suffer from “selective listening.” Likewise, lawyers who haven’t practiced very long in a subject area may be overly eager and skimp on fundamental interview techniques.

Just like “tie goes to the runner” in baseball, disputed terms will be construed from the client’s perspective without a clear writing to remove doubt. Because LSR is relatively new to many, the agreement needs to cover as many tasks the lawyer won’t do for the quoted fee as what the lawyer will. The list of tasks that the client must handle or get elsewhere is both a chance to “up sell” as well as a checklist for the client who may not understand the breadth of the matter for which you have undertaken a small part.

Make sure your agreement makes the most of the “opportunity” by adding your fee menu to the back, for example. But ensure you have clearly delineated respective roles so there is no reasonable dispute over what the LSR fee has purchased.

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