By Steven Ciszewski, Partner, Novack and Macey LLP
An often overlooked “best practice” is to formally end the attorney-client representation when a particular matter ends. This can easily be done by sending a short letter or e-mail stating that the matter has concluded, that your representation on the matter has ended, and that there is no on-going attorney-client relationship absent a new retention letter.
This communication can also be a good time to remind the client of any remaining amounts due and, if circumstances warrant, to invite the client to call you about future matters.
Having such a formal communication at the end of the matter serves several useful purposes and helps reduce the risk of malpractice claims. Among other things, it creates a clear and documented end of the attorney-client relationship with respect to that matter.
This serves to end any on-going legal duty to the client with respect to that matter (other than on-going ethical obligations to former clients). It also helps with future conflict checks and other ethical considerations that might differentiate between current clients and former clients. And, assuming the representation ended on a positive note, this closing communication can be a great time to remind the client of the excellent work you did and to ask for future business from the client.
So, when a matter ends, set aside a few minutes to end it the right way and make sure the case is truly closed.
(This is for informational purposes and is not legal advice.)