A good practice to help reduce the risk of malpractice claims is the use of engagement letters, which clearly establish the basic parameters of the attorney-client relationship including the scope of representation. A vague understanding of the scope of representation may lead to a misunderstanding by the client as to what the lawyer is doing on behalf of the client.
A good example of the need for a clear engagement letter is the many claims brought against workers’ compensation attorneys for failing to file third party actions. Clients have prevailed in malpractice claims against their attorney because they believed their attorney was handling their entire claim, including the personal injury claim while the attorney believed he or she agreed to only pursue the workers compensation claim. As a result, engagement letters should explain what the lawyer is handling and what the lawyer is not handling.