All good things must come to an end, and this includes the representation of clients. Whether you and the client had a good relationship or not, and regardless of the outcome of the legal matter you were hired to help with, at some point, your representation of the client will end. Before you send your client on their way, one essential final step is to compose and send the client a closing letter.
Like the initial retainer contract or fee agreement, the closing letter is a professional way for you to officially terminate the active attorney-client relationship and move the client from “current client” to “former client.” It is your opportunity to provide your client with one final professional courtesy as well as a chance to safeguard yourself against future ethical complaints.
Therefore, it is not only important that you write your client a closing letter but that you compose an appropriate and detailed closing letter.
Why it is essential to write a closing letter to clients
A closing letter is more than a note telling your client they are done working on their case. Any closing letter provides you with several benefits that can help your practice and be beneficial in responding to any future ethical complaints:
Official termination of representation: First, your closing letter serves as a tangible notification to your client that you have finished working on their case. It also notifies your client what the outcome of their personal injury case was, including any judgment or settlement you were able to obtain for them.
Identification of next steps: Sometimes, your personal injury client will need to undertake additional steps now that their case has ended. For instance, your closing letter to a client whose case was successful might include instructions on how to receive their settlement or judgment and what to do with the funds once they are received.
Show gratitude and appreciation: Last, a closing letter can be one final opportunity to tell your client “thank you” for the trust and confidence they placed in you to handle their legal matter. This personal touch can encourage clients to tell their friends and family about you and encourage them to seek you out when they have a personal injury matter.
Best practices for writing a closing letter
Writing a solid closing letter involves more than simply telling your client thank you and goodbye. It should contain helpful information so your client feels empowered and in charge, not lost and confused. Closing letters should:
Be sent quickly after representation has ended: You should send your closing letter as soon as you possibly can after representation has ended. If you are leaving the case before it has reached a conclusion, your client may need to seek other representation quickly or respond to the other party in a short timeframe. Delaying in sending a closing letter can result in client confusion and frustration and could lead to ethical complaints being filed against you.
Recap what happened in the case: While you do not have to give a play-by-play of how the client’s case went from initial filing to resolution, your letter should tell your client where the case is at and what you have done to get it to that point. If a judgment or resolution has been reached, talk about what you were able to secure on your client’s behalf.
Discuss what your client needs to do next: Clearly lay out what your client can expect to happen next and what they need to do. Give your client step-by-step instructions that are clear and concise. Do not leave it to your client to decide what they should do; instead, you should tell them about the following:
- Any upcoming court hearings, what they are, when they will be held, and where to go to attend the hearing
- Any legal deadlines they must meet and what they need to do about them
- Future communications they can expect to receive and how to respond to them
- When can they expect to receive any settlement funds or judgment, and what to do once they receive them
- Any documents they need to sign
The goal is not to overwhelm the client but to empower them to move forward confidently without you being present to help them.
Include copies of case-related documents: If you have any documents that your client gave you and you no longer need them, returning them with your closing letter makes perfect sense. Any forms that your client needs to sign should also be included with your closing letter.
Leverage technology: Personal Injury Case Management software providers like CloudLex make creating personalized closing letters easy and efficient, helping you complete this vital task without requiring a large investment of your time. Legal cloud storage can also help you stay organized and keep all case-related information in one easy-to-find location for quick retrieval and access. (No more hunting for a closed file in the file room beneath boxes and papers!)
Trust CloudLex to help you succeed with your practice
CloudLex is committed to helping personal injury attorneys create successful, client-centered practices that keep clients and their families returning whenever they have legal needs. Contact us today and learn what we at CloudLex can do to assist you and your practice.