Now that you have your business model and marketing materials ready to go, you need to stand ready to serve those clients! In order to do so effectively, ethically and in a way that is easily managed by you check out the following tips and resources to build up your “form bank.”
Once a client retains you on a matter you need to be sure your representation is clearly laid out in a written agreement and in compliance with the Rules regulating The Florida Bar:
The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar require different types of fee agreements for different forms of representation. Remember, if you plan to represent a client on a contingency fee basis, the Rules require the agreement to be in writing. Before having that first client sign on the dotted line, review Rule 4-1.5 in detail.
After the client is signed up and representation begins, or ends with a declination letter, additional agreements, letters, and forms will be necessary to ensure your business runs smoothly. All this even before you bring opposing counsel into the mix!
The Practice Resource Institute of The Florida Bar has created The PRI Administrative Forms Handbook to help lighten the load. While The Florida Bar has not adopted any of the forms provided as “official forms,” they are an excellent starting point to creating your own forms to cover your specific clients and their unique matters. The available forms range from client communications, client intake, fee agreements, declination letters, financial, marketing and even personnel. These materials are available here and can also be purchased on CD for $50.
For a little humor and a lot of knowledge, check out Solo University’s take on the retainer agreement.
If you are on the hunt for pleading forms, elements for certain causes of actions or some additional research on what it will take to prove your case, check out these resources:
When first starting out, the idea of not “reinventing the wheel” is certainly tempting, and at times, necessary. But, always remember the risks of using someone else’s forms as fee agreements, pleadings, contracts or any other document will fall on you. Be sure you do your homework, check the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and don’t be afraid to ask others what they have done in similar situations (once you have done your own research.)