What Is An Attorney Contract Of Engagement? What Terms Should Be Included?
A reputable attorney representing clients charged with felony or misdemeanor offenses will have a contract. That contract spells out what efforts will be made to defend you against the pending charges. Because criminal charges go through the courts in stages and usually do not result in trial, the representation will probably be for all appearances up to a trial. If a trial is necessary there will be a separate agreement for the trial. On felony charges there is usually a preliminary hearing that is required before a case is set for trial. Representation can be up to the preliminary hearing or may include the hearing. Because results or beneficial plea bargains cannot be predicted most attorney’s contracts specify only that best efforts will be made to minimize effects of the pending charges. In some instances an attorney can be hired in anticipation of charges being filed. In those cases the same terms of a contract apply. Many clients feel it is important to have an attorney represent them, especially when it is clear that detectives will be interviewing and investigating prior to a filing. Also having a retained attorney can prevent a surprise arrest. Most law enforcement will cooperate with attorneys and allow for a planned surrender with a bail bond in place so that detention is minimal.
The following is a contact that I use. It allows for handwritten terms to satisfy each specific case or client.
ROBERT E. LEVY
Attorney at Law
28581 Old Town Front Street
Temecula CA 92590
Date of Engagement:_____________________________________________________________
ROBERT E. LEVY (“Attorney”) and ______________________________________ (“Client”) hereby agree that Attorney will provide legal services to Client on the terms set forth below.
1. CONDITIONS. This Agreement will not take effect, and Attorney will have no obligation to provide legal services, until Client returns a signed copy of this Agreement and pays an initial deposit or entire fee as called for under Paragraph 4.
2. SCOPE OF SERVICES. Client hires Attorney to provide legal services in the
Attorney will provide and use his best efforts to defend in a California court of criminal jurisdiction misdemeanor or felony charges filed against client in the following case described by charges filed, case number, court designation and charges filed.
Attorney will provide those legal services reasonably required to represent Client. Attorney will take reasonable steps to keep Client informed of progress and to respond to Client’s inquiries. This Agreement does not cover appeals of final judgment on motions or trial. Representation for misdemeanors covers services required through arraignment, discovery and pretrial motions. Representation for felonies covers services required through preliminary hearing, arraignment, discovery and pretrial motions. Representation for misdemeanor or felony trial should client wish to retain attorney will require a separate agreement.
3. CLIENT’S DUTIES. Client agrees to be truthful with Attorney, to cooperate, to keep Attorney informed of any information or developments which may come to Client’s attention, to abide by this Agreement and to keep Attorney advised of Client’s address, telephone number and whereabouts. Client will assist Attorney in providing information and documents necessary for the representation in the described matter.
4. FEE. Client agrees to pay Attorney $_____________________for services described in Section 2.
5. DISCLAIMER OF GUARANTEE AND ESTIMATES. Nothing in this Agreement and nothing in Attorney’s statements to Client will be construed as a promise or guarantee about the outcome of the matter. Attorney makes no such promises or guarantees. Attorney’s comments about the outcome of the matter are expressions of opinion only.
8. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. This Agreement contains the entire agreement of the parties. No other agreement, statement, or promise made on or before the effective date of this Agreement will be binding on the parties.
9. SEVERABILITY IN EVENT OF PARTIAL INVALIDITY. If any provision of this Agreement is held in whole or in part to be unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of that provision and of the entire Agreement will be severable and remain in effect.
10. MODIFICATION BY SUBSEQUENT AGREEMENT. This Agreement may be modified by subsequent agreement of the parties only by an instrument in writing signed by both of them or an oral agreement only to the extent that the parties carry it out.
11. EFFECTIVE DATE. This Agreement will govern all legal services performed by Attorney on behalf of Client commencing with the date Attorney first performed services. The date at the beginning of this Agreement is for reference only. Even if this Agreement does not take effect, Client will be obligated to pay Attorney the reasonable value of any services Attorney may have performed for Client.
12. RECEIPT. The signatures of the parties acknowledge receipt and tender of fees for services pursuant to the stated terms of the Agreement.
THE PARTIES HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THE FOREGOING TERMS AND AGREE TO THEM AS OF THE DATE ATTORNEY FIRST PROVIDED SERVICES. IF MORE THAN ONE CLIENT SIGNS BELOW, EACH AGREES TO BE LIABLE, JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY, FOR ALL OBLIGATIONS UNDER THIS AGREEMENT. THE CLIENT SHALL RECEIVE A FULLY EXECUTED DUPLICATE OF THIS AGREEMENT.