Detailed Advice Letters

Once you have established the basic relationship with the client, you need to ensure that you keep an adequate record of the advice you have given them.

If you are just giving a written advice, there may be no need for another document – after all, the written advice represents both the substance and the procedure of the work for them. However, if you are helping to lodge some form of litigation or drafting correspondence for negotiations with their adversaries, there may be a real difference between the paperwork they are commissioning from you, and the advice you would give them on merits. For example , you would not want to emphasise the weaknesses of their case in legal drafting, but you might want to do so in an advice document in order to ensure they understand the strengths and difficulties with their position – there is wisdom of making sure that the latter is documented.

Make sure you have collected all relevant information before you set out to write the letter. This in itself requires careful planning and time management: it is very easy to sit down, expecting a pile of papers or email attachments to be the equivalent of a brief, and then realise that you lack critical information. You need to set time aside at least twice before writing that advice, once to check that you know enough about the case to be able to ask the client to collate all relevant material, and once again to ensure that the client has actually provided you with everything that you sought in the first place. So set out a clear timetable for the writing of the letter.

Critical issues to cover will include:

  • A discussion of the relevant options that the client may have
  • An assessment of the merits of each one, and its cost implications  (going as far into the future litigation or other possibilities as realistically needs to be done, probably with diminishing detail as eventualities become more remote)
23rd October 2015

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