Explanation of Law Firm Engagement Agreements

At Dahl Law Group, before we start working on legal matters, we require each client to sign an Engagement Agreement. These are frequently transmitted via email or text message for clients to e-sign. We realize that it is very intimidating to review a contract from an attorney, so we created this page to explain the terms of the Engagement Agreement in plain English. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT A PREDATORY, ONE-SIDED AGREEMENT FOR THE LAW FIRM. THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA (AND MOST OTHER STATES) REQUIRE CERTAIN TERMS IN THESE AGREEMENTS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS.

Please note that the numbering of these paragraphs may differ slightly, but the headings of the paragraphs will remain the same. The explanation of the terms are as follows:

First Non-Numbered Paragraph
We have malpractice insurance in accordance with the State Bar requirements.

Second Non-Numbered Paragraph
The people who are bound by the Agreement are identified here.

Paragraph 1 – Conditions
The agreement will only start when the person or group signs it and pays an initial fee. The agreement can be signed electronically. The law firm’s signature on the agreement sent by email is valid.

Paragraph 2 – Scope of Services
This defines the scope of the legal services that we will provide. Please review this carefully.

Paragraph 3 – Client’s & Attorney’s Duties
Both the law firm and the client have certain responsibilities. The law firm must keep the client informed and answer their questions. The client must be honest and provide necessary information and documents.

Paragraph 4 – Flat Fee OR Retainer Deposit (as applicable)
This paragraph will show the flat fee we will provide for legal services, or for hourly matters the retainer deposit. If you fire us per Paragraph 8 (this doesn’t usually happen but is within your right) and there is any money left from their retainer, we will return that to you promptly. Also, if it is for a flat fee matter, we will return fees in an amount that is proportionate to the amount of legal work that we did not complete, if any.

Paragraph 5 – Legal Services & Billing Practices
It is extremely important to point out that these hourly rates do not apply for flat fee matters. The State Bar of California (who gives us attorneys our licenses) requires that we disclose hourly rates even if they do not apply. If your matter will be billed hourly, then these rates will apply. We also bill in units of .1 (6 minutes), rounding up to the nearest 6 minutes. So, if we work 10 minutes on your case, we will round up to 12 minutes of billing.

Paragraph 6 – Costs & Other Charges (as applicable)
Typically, our flat fee cases include costs and expenses. Review Paragraph 2 to determine whether that is the case. Otherwise, we may charge for costs and expenses as applicable, such as court or county filings fees.

Paragraph 7 – Billing Statements
The law firm will send regular statements showing the fees and costs incurred, and showing the legal work completed by our staff. The statements need to be paid within 10 day of emailing/mailing.

Paragraph 8 – Discharge & Withdrawal
You can fire us at any time by emailing us. Review Paragraph 2 above that discusses whether, and how much of your payment will be refunded. Also, we can stop representing you for any reason or no reason, and you still owe the firm for work performed prior to the discharge/firing.

Paragraph 9 – Disclaimer of Guarantee and Estimates
While we have a great reputation and are confident in the legal work we provide, we cannot guarantee a specific result or outcome (no attorney can or will do that). Any estimates of fees are not guaranteed.

Paragraph 10 – Entire Agreement
The Engagement Agreement contains all the terms, and there are no other “side agreements”, whether oral or written.

Paragraph 11 – Severability in Event of Partial Invalidity
If any part of this Agreement is not enforceable, the rest of the agreement will still be valid.

Paragraph 12 – Modification by Subsequent Agreement
The Agreement can only be changed in writing or by carrying out an oral agreement.

Paragraph 13 – Effective Date
This Agreement covers all legal services provided by the law firm starting from the date they began working. The starting date mentioned in the Agreement is only for reference. Even if the Agreement doesn’t take effect, the client still needs to pay for any services provided.

Paragraph 14 – Arbitration
If there’s a dispute about fees or costs, both the law firm and the client agree to resolve it through binding arbitration, meaning it will be decided by a neutral third party instead of going to court. It isn’t fair to go against an attorney in court, and so the State Bar of California requires this in all fee agreements.

Paragraph 15 – Document Retention Policy
The law firm keeps documents for five years and may destroy them afterward. If the client wants any documents saved, they need to request it in writing.

Paragraph 16 – Electronic Document Storage & Communication Disclaimer
The law firm stores records and communicates electronically. While they take precautions, there is a risk of data breaches. The law firm is not liable for any damages arising from such breaches. We have never had such an IT security breach, and if we do, we will inform all affected clients.

Paragraph 17 or 18 – Future Services
This Agreement also applies to future matters if both parties agree. However, our policy is that any future services will require us to sign another Engagement Agreement.

Paragraph 17 – Credit Card Authorization (for matters charged hourly)
Your lawyer will securely store your credit card details and won’t start work until they have them. They’ll charge your card for legal services only if your invoice is past due, which is on the 11th day after emailing/mailing. You may pay with any other payment method within the invoice due date window. If your card can’t be charged, they may pause work until you give them a valid card. By agreeing, you authorize automatic card charges, and agree to provide a new card if needed. Charges for completed work are final, so no refunds. If you have concerns, talk to your lawyer; don’t cancel your card or request refunds to avoid extra fees.

DISCLAIMER: This page does not contain the actual terms of the agreement between you and the law firm. The explanation of the terms on this page are not intended to be and are not binding on the parties. This information is only provided for your convenience.