Somewhere Rise, Anytown Anyshire, AN1 3BD
Tel 01234 567890 Fax 01234 112233
21 Whereabouts Close
You must identify the individuals who will be handling the matter. This must be by name and an explanation as to their position. Ensure that personnel are identified accurately, for example it is both illegal and unethical to hold a person out to be a solicitor if they are not so. It is important to remember that the responsibilities of both the legal personnel and the client are set out from the outset and throughout the conduct of the matter.
Note that the client in this scenario and the paralegal handling the case share the same surname. Always ensure you are aware who the client is, such matters as conflicts of interest must always be borne in mind.
Reference must be made to the terms of business of the practice.
If necessary or where appropriate forms of mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution should be discussed and offered if not already done so at the initial meeting.
Both your requirements and/or proposals and those of the client must be clearly set out to ensure that all parties are aware of their obligations.
Identify and explain any conditions or limitations where any third parties may be involved, for example fee sharers.
Fees should also be agreed from the outset. Sometimes an exact figure may not be possible therefore a practical forecast or range should be provided. In addition, in this instance, an explanation as to the reasons should also be provided. If the client is eligible for public funding this should have been discussed and matters can be clarified in writing at this point.
In order to ensure that the client is clear about who is dealing with the matter and how they can contact them it is prudent to reiterate the name and provide clear contact details, for example a telephone number or e-mail details.
Remember you are there to ensure that the client is guided through the legal process as well as ensuring that you do the best possible for them in the circumstances.
A client may well be confused and upset whilst undergoing the process so it is important that they are treated with respect and an appropriate amount of empathy. Even a small action shows that thought has been given to their welfare or needs and will clearly demonstrate that the firm is professional and diligent in all aspects of service.
It is prudent to enclose a copy of the letter and documents explaining cost, complaints procedure and terms of business and ask the client to sign and return them. This will ensure that should a complaint arise there is clear evidence that all the provisions of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct and accompanying requirements have been met as far as required.
There may be times when you will be asked to sign the letter on their behalf and this should be done with a 'pp' before your signature to indicate that the signature is not theirs but another person's on behalf of the person named.