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The Champion

February 2009 , Page 61 

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Practice Points

By Denis M. deVlaming

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Edited by Elizabeth Kelley 

Signing Up the Client: How to Contract

“Get it in writing.” How many times have we, as lawyers, said that to a client? They teach it in law school and for good reason. If it is not in writing, people forget. And if they don’t forget, they conveniently “remember it another way.” When it is in writing, signed by the parties, there is no question to debate.

Let’s face it, we are 50 percent lawyer and 50 percent business owner when we are in private practice. It would be nice to forego the business aspect and concentrate solely on the professional part of practicing law, but that is just not a reality. It is absolutely imperative to contract for legal services with a client in writing.

Discussing fees and costs is an unpleasant task. It should normally be done at the first meeting with the client. In that way, both the lawyer and the client know whether or not the legal services being requested are affordable and whether or not the expectations of the client (for th

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