Timeless Tips

1. Always check for conflicts of interest before hearing or learning client confidential information.
2. If you are offered an interest in a client's business in lieu of fees, JUST SAY NO!
3. Avoid forming an attorney client relationship with a prospective client through casual contact. For example, during social situations, on the street, in an e-mail, or phone call. When in doubt, document any casual contact involving a legal question.
Identify another attorney who could protect your clients' interests when you are out of the office, on vacation or in the event of an unforeseen absence. If you're a sole practitioner, work out a reciprocal arrangement with one or several other attorneys you trust and have confidence.
If a client chooses not to follow your recommendations or advice, write a letter confirming and documenting the advice you gave the client.
If the client's matter is non meritorious or their problem would be better solved outside the legal system, say so up front. Don't wait for the client to discover it on his or her own, after you have spent considerable time and a significant bill has accumulated.
Schedule a monthly meeting of support staff to discuss office procedures, and the importance of client confidentiality, client relations, ethics, and similar topics. It never hurts to ask your staff for their input.
Develop written procedures for opening, storing and retrieving, archiving, and destroying client files.
Keep a record of all voice mail messages, including name, date, time, phone numbers, and key points.
Keep detailed time records. This applies to contingent fee cases as well, in the event you need to prove the quantum meruit value of your services.
Send "for your information" copies of all important correspondences and documents to your clients.

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