By Andrea Woods
The San Francisco Law Library maintains a comprehensive Law Practice Management Collection, with publications that detail all aspects of running a practice—client relations, billing, marketing, finances, risk management, technology, and more. This post gathers the Law Library’s LPM resources that have time-saving sample forms for more efficient management of a law firm. This is the final article in a monthly series that highlights each topic in the LPM Collection. Stay tuned for further updates about the collection, as well as a forthcoming guide to all of the forms included in the Law Library’s LPM Collection.
California Client Communications Manual: Sample Letters and Forms, by Holly J. Fujie. CEB, 2012–present. In-Library access via CEB OnLaw.
Keeping up with client communications can be a daunting task for any attorney. Not only is the duty to communicate required by ethics rules, but communication is also the foundation of a healthy attorney-client relationship. Notwithstanding these compelling reasons for paying great attention to client correspondence, there is no denying that composing all those letters and documents takes up a substantial amount of valuable time. This collection of sample letters and forms from CEB aims to cure that with templates for every phase of legal representation. Chapters cover initial contact with a prospective client, declining representation, fee agreements, conflicts of interest, case status, requesting documents from clients, termination of the relationship by the attorney, client files, fee collection, and fee arbitration. Plus, each chapter begins with a list of relevant drafting considerations, practice tips, and citations to the controlling provisions of the California Rules of Professional Conduct. Whether you need a sample email policy for a new client, a charging lien for services rendered, or something in between, the California Client Communications Manual is sure to be a time-saver.
Fee Agreement Forms Manual, with CD-ROM, by Bob Pickus. Loose-leaf, CEB, 2007–present.
This collection of sample fee agreements contains individual contract provisions so attorneys can build their own customized fee agreement, and also whole sample agreements for use in specific practice areas. Individual provisions include traditional hourly billing, various alternative fee models, and other issues such as attorney’s liens and payment of fees under fee-shifting statutes. Whole sample agreements cover business formation and corporate legal services, civil litigation, chapter 7 bankruptcy, criminal defense, debt collection, elder law, estate planning, limited scope representation in family law and other civil cases, dissolution, medical malpractice, personal injury, probate, unlawful detainer, wrongful termination, as well as sample letters for nonengagement and completion of representation. This comprehensive manual also includes basic drafting considerations, thoughtful commentary, checklists, and relevant sections of the California Business and Professions Code and Rules of Professional Conduct.
Law Firm Partnership Agreements, with CD-ROM, by Leslie D. Corwin and Arthur J. Ciampi. Loose-leaf, Law Journal Press, 1998–present.
This resource offers much more than a model law firm partnership agreement—it is the definitive text on the substantive law of law firm partnerships. In great detail, it addresses choice of entity, set-up considerations, management structure and committees, compensation systems and distribution of partnership income, changes in partnership relationship such as withdrawal or addition of partners, dissolution of the partnership, the sale, purchase, or merger of a law practice, and law firm bankruptcy. With ample discussion of tax and ethical issues, partnership, contract, and tort law, along with numerous sample forms covering everything from an action for an accounting to a dissolution confidentiality agreement, this is the book to consult for any law firm partnership question.
Letters for Lawyers: Essential Communications for Clients, Prospects, and Others, with CD-ROM, by Thomas E. Kane and Tammy A. Linn. American Bar Association, General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Section, 2nd ed., 2004.
Lawyers have a seemingly endless amount of correspondence to complete, and it takes time and energy to consider how to strike the appropriate tone and find the right words. Enter Letters for Lawyers, which presents templates for letters to clients and referral sources, employees and prospective employees, prospective clients, the media, and other professional contacts. If you need to send an offer letter to an employee or a letter of condolence to a client, reach for this book.
Letters for Litigators: Essential Communications for Opposing Counsel, Witnesses, Clients, and Others, with CD-ROM, by Daniel I. Small and Robin Page West. American Bar Association, General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division, 2004.
This compilation of sample letters should be every litigator’s companion in day-to-day practice. With an understanding that all correspondence ultimately becomes part of litigation, these well-crafted letters aim to define a litigant’s position in a clear, polite tone while pushing for a particular outcome, but without overstating facts or law. Templates include retention and declination letters, demand letters for various causes of action, offers to settle, communication with witnesses, and other letters to coincide with each phase of litigation. Each chapter is accompanied with practice and drafting tips that illustrate the connection between each piece of correspondence and the bigger picture of the litigation process.
Andrea Woods is a Reference Librarian at the San Francisco Law Library.