Engagement letter definition

It outlines the scope of a service the business will provide to the client, and sets out a number of rights and obligations that each party must uphold. You’re in luck as almost all legal malpractice insurance carriers provide a risk management hotline. Risk management hotlines are a good source for information about engagement letters and other risk management protocols. The hotline can provide basic outlines and best language for an engagement letter and even potentially contour it to the specific area of practice.

These clauses ensure that the service provider is providing services that meet the highest standards of professionalism and ethics. The deadlines section of the engagement letter outlines the deadlines for completion of the services. This section should also include any penalties or fees that will be incurred if the deadlines are not met. This is the case as each law firm, accounting firm, real estate agency or other firm knows their business, understands what needs to be done, knows how much to charge etc.

In other words, the client does not have a specific mandate in mind but requires ongoing professional services support. Letters of engagement are crucial to protect professionals from malpractice claims or professional liability claims. If and when services change, a new attorney engagement letter or a supplemental letter should be obtained right away. If the pricing of an attorney rate changes, the attorney should notify the client immediately that that change will be reflected on future legal bills and invoices. An attorney could use one engagement letter to cover several types of services to be rendered.

  • If one party fails to uphold their end of the bargain, there is no recourse without a written agreement.
  • Once those are rated, one of the biggest characteristics of a firm reviewed by underwriting is what management protocols are in place.
  • It minimizes potential disputes by setting expectations at the outset of a professional relationship.

When entering into a relationship between a client and a business, it is important to set expectations. In doing so, we reduce the amount of time you spend on generating such a document, but also ensure that it is accurate and reliable so as to provide you with solid legal protection how to prepare a balance sheet for a startup company should you need it. According to Joshua Lance, Head of Accounting at Ignition and founder of Lance CPA Group, it’s important to send engagement letters at the start of any new engagement or project. That way, clients know exactly what to expect and can provide informed consent.

Save time with templates

An engagement letter works very similarly to a contract – by outlining all the necessary information required so that both sides are fully aware of their obligations. I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I’ll certainly be a repeat customer. Sarah graduated magna cum laude from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2013. Prior to opening her own practice, Sarah worked in a large law firm defending corporate clients.

Contract negotiation is the process of coming to an agreement on a set of legally binding terms. When two parties negotiate, they both seek favorable terms and minimal financial, legal, and operational risk. Even if it may not feel that way to you, remember that you still hold a certain amount of leverage to ask for what you want. While engagement agreements vary between companies, they generally contain the same basic components. Below, we have included a sample attorney-client engagement letter for your reference.


If you have ever hired a professional in any industry, you likely signed some form of contract. A written engagement letter, commonly referred to as an engagement agreement, is a type of contract—and it is a necessary foundation on which to build a professional relationship. If the accounting firm had not drafted the first engagement letter, both parties would be none the wiser that their expectations for the scope of service were misaligned. Down the line, this could have easily descended into a he-said-she-said type of dispute. Similarly, if you are handling a divorce matter and only representing one of the spouses, but that’s not clearly defined in the engagement letter, you again leave yourself and the law firm open for a claim. In most areas of practice, there are scenarios where not clearly defining the client could be very costly for you and the law firm.

Over to you: Automate your manual processes and free up admin time

The timeline section of the engagement letter outlines the timeline for completion of the services. This section should also include any milestones that will be used to track progress. The material provided on the Incorporated.Zone’s website is for general information purposes only. The purpose of engagement letters is to clarify the relationship between the professional and the client. For example, a potential client contacts a lawyer for legal services as they have just been served with a lawsuit. A specific engagement letter is when the professional and the client define a specific mandate.

Where can I find a sample engagement letter for (insert name of service)?

An engagement can also include a clause around mediation or binding arbitration for the relationship. This aims to provide guidance for managing any disputes that may arise throughout the process between the two parties. At Mango Practice Management we are inspired to provide the best practice management software for CPAs, consultants, accounting professionals, and other businesses. While it’s practical to have a base template, always tailor each engagement letter to the specifics of the client and the scope of work. Your engagement letter should include conditions under which the agreement can be ended by either party.

However, it is still crucial to include every important aspect of the relationship between the provider and the client. This ensures transparency and demonstrates professionalism from the beginning of an attorney-client relationship. In these cases, the client has obtained third-party attorney retainer fee financing to pay for Minc Law’s legal services.

It also keeps a history of legally binding e-signatures for your records to help you stay compliant. An engagement letter defines the legal relationship (or engagement) between a professional firm (e.g., law, investment banking, consulting, advisory or accountancy firm) and its client(s). This letter states the terms and conditions of the engagement, principally addressing the scope of the engagement and the terms of compensation for the firm. After the scope of services is drafted, consider asking a colleague or an impartial party to read your engagement letter to help evaluate whether it’s sufficiently specific.

Frequently asked engagement letter questions

That is why it is so crucial to set firm expectations in the engagement letter. That way, the client knows exactly what they are paying for (and what to expect), and the provider understands exactly what work they are expected to do. It also provides the starting retainer amount that will be due for the attorney to begin working on the matter. While outcomes in hourly litigation and non-litigation matters are not guaranteed, we always strive to put the client in a better place than when they initially reached out. A legal engagement letter protects both lawyer and client and makes the relationship clear to both parties. It is always best to document the terms and parameters of an agreement in writing—which both parties review and sign.

Of course, the client may discharge the attorney for one of several reasons as well. They may be unhappy with the attorney’s customer service or communication. Or, the client may persist in instructing the lawyer to act contrary to professional ethics. Before you sign the engagement agreement, point out any sections that you disagree with and ask the attorney if they can alter those items in any way.

Leave a Reply