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Loss Prevention Tip #10

When are you Retained on a New Matter for a Multiple-File Client?

A lawyer represented a busy salesman on several commercial matters including some litigation files. During meetings to discuss his commercial files, the client mentioned he’d been involved in a car accident and complained about the trouble he was having getting his insurer to pay for the damage to his car.

The client recalled that he may have asked the lawyer to call the insurer to flush things out and that, before the limitation date expired, he showed the lawyer some documents indicating that the insurer would not acknowledge the client’s claim.

The lawyer, on the other hand, recalled that although they did discuss the insurance problem generally, she was given no details. She said the client formally retained her to resolve the claim against his insurer five days after the limitation date expired. Only then did she open a file and receive documents.

In fact, the client thought he had retained the lawyer to help on his insurance matter a full two months before the lawyer thought she was hired.

The moral? If your multiple-file client casually brings up a new matter, be alert. Clarify whether or not you are retained on that new matter. Then memo the file. (Excerpt from Issue #20, CLIA Loss Prevention Bulletin)