Engagement Letter Management
In today’s complex business environment, firms that take on new matters or engagements without clearly documented engagement terms are playing a dangerous game. The days of handshake agreements and unspoken understandings are over — the stakes are simply too high. To reduce the chance of client billing disputes, mitigate the very real and increasing risk of malpractice claims, and address growing scrutiny by insurers, firms must more effectively and consistently use engagement letters.
Yet most firms struggle to incorporate engagement letters into their standard new business acceptance process. According to the 2014 Risk Roundtable survey, only 38% of law firms report having automated this critical activity.
Firms typically identify several barriers to standardizing the use of engagement letters. Culture can be a significant factor — if clear policies and requirements are lacking, or if lawyers and professionals expect great personal latitude during intake, compliance naturally suffers. But technical barriers loom even larger — if a firm lacks the capability to effectively manage engagement letters as part of business intake, it lacks the basic building blocks necessary to succeed in adopting their use at any scale. The building blocks of success include:
Clear policies and management expectations
Letter templates and standards that clearly define firm expectations (to avoid ad hoc approaches)
- A clear exceptions process (for one-off instances when terms must be re-negotiated)
But most of all, the overall process must be integrated into the very fabric of new matter/engagement intake. And to do that, it must be automated — so that there is no additional complexity, delay or hassle for lawyers, professionals and staff, and so that firm management has greater visibility and control over the entire business review and acceptance process.
The Solution – Intapp Open
Intapp Open has redefined business acceptance with a fresh approach that includes the ability to automatically draft and manage engagement letters as part of business inception. Intapp Open:
- Automatically generates draft engagement letters for new matters and engagements, using data gathered during the normal intake process (or additional detail gathered through questions integrated into normal form/workflow activity)
- Supports multiple templates, using the relevant option based on firm-defined business rules (e.g. matter type, geography, jurisdiction)
- Integrates document assembly, leveraging a firm’s existing investment in HotDocs or ContractExpress; or allowing organizations to secure a document assembly tool licensed for engagement letters
- Manages review and approval of draft letters as part of the overall new matter/engagement review and intake process
- Attaches generated letters to intake requests, creating a clear record and audit trail
Intapp Open makes it easy to broaden the use of engagement letters by tightly integrating and automating drafting and tracking activity as part of new matter/engagement inception. This allows organizations to increase the overall use of engagement letters, to reduce risk and protect revenue, while increasing internal efficiency and user satisfaction by reducing overhead associated with traditional business intake processes.