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Drafting Client Engagement Agreements: Legal Ethics Considerations for Counsel

Leveraging the Agreement to Defend Against Disciplinary Actions and Malpractice Claims

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, November 11, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide attorneys regarding engagement agreements with their clients. These agreements can help avoid costly disputes down the line regarding the scope of representation, fees, conflicts of interests, and many other aspects of the attorney-client relationship. Familiarity with the ethics rules regarding such agreements is a must.


A meticulous attorney always advises clients to reduce oral agreements to writing. However, some attorneys do not heed this advice when it comes to memorializing the terms of client representation. Failure to secure a written engagement can create ambiguity and tension in the attorney-client relationship. The worst-case scenario is messy malpractice litigation. Despite the importance of such agreements, no one ethical rule contains simple guidelines for their drafting.

The engagement agreement should clearly state the financial terms of the representation: hourly, flat rate, contingency, or otherwise. The agreement should address when payment is due, the consequences of nonpayment, and the retainer and its application. Attorneys and firms must give special attention to matters relating to clients involved in any way in the cannabis business.

The engagement letter should specify the scope of representation, so it is clear to both parties what the client hired counsel to do, disclose any potential conflicts, and set the standards for future conflicts.

Listen as our authoritative panel reviews, in detail, the legal and ethical constraints regarding the terms of an engagement agreement to include discussions on client identification, scope, file retention, and more. Additionally, attendees will benefit from an analysis of using these agreements to defend against malpractice claims and disciplinary proceedings.



  1. Important provisions
    1. Client identification
    2. Scope of engagement
    3. Terms of payment
    4. Staffing concerns
    5. Conflicts
    6. File and documentation retention
  2. Special considerations regarding cannabis
  3. Defending disciplinary proceedings
  4. Defending malpractice claims


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Understanding which ethical rules apply when drafting client engagement agreements
  • Determining the types of provisions to include in engagement agreements and the impact of legal ethics rules
  • Leveraging the use of client engagement agreements to mitigate or resolve client complaints, grievances, disciplinary proceedings, and malpractice claims
  • Drafting client agreements to proactively avoid client complaints and using lessons from others' mistakes


Lefkowitz, David
David Lefkowitz

The Lefkowitz Firm LLC

Mr. Lefkowitz represents individuals and companies (corporations, LLCs, PCs, etc.) in their claims for legal...  |  Read More

Hartzell, A. Neil
A. Neil Hartzell

Freeman Mathis & Gary

Mr. Hartzell has extensive experience in a broad range of matters, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in...  |  Read More

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