TERMS OF SERVICE
You agree to these terms when you work with me, Benjamin Dyches. Some of these terms are professional and ethical requirements for all lawyers while others follow from privacy and security obligations. Mostly, TL;DR.
I recommend that you consider whether you want to have this agreement reviewed by another lawyer.
1. OFFICE SHARING
My overhead costs are informed by modern law practice technology and practical client needs. I currently work out of a co-working space. There is private meeting space for phone calls and meetings, but the premises are shared with other professionals. No client records are stored on-site.
2. LIMITED SCOPE
I offer a limited range of legal services to maintain service level expectations and provide predictable pricing. If your legal needs fall beyond my scope of services, I will refer you to legal counsel better suited to your requirements.
You agree that all legal services that I provide are usually set out in a Legal Services Agreement or otherwise accepted in writing. This is called a "limited scope retainer." This means that my representation of you is limited to those specific things that I agree to do for you.
I work with clients to provide predictable pricing through fixed-fee services or project budgets. Nobody likes billable hours.
Long live billable hours. For many matters, hourly billing remains our best pricing model. Unless otherwise agreed in writing, my fees for general matters including drafting, consultations, and communications, are based on my normal hourly rate, as updated on an annual basis.
You authorize me to pay on your behalf for any reasonable third-party bills associated with my legal services (e.g. courier charges, government filing fees). That being said, any outside professional services costs (e.g. accounting) remain your responsibility and I am not required to pay any third-party costs or fees on your behalf. Where I anticipate incurring significant disbursements on your behalf, I will invoice you in advance and proceed with incurring the expense once your payment has been received.
All applicable taxes as applicable on legal fees, third party expenses, and disbursements will also be charged to you.
I do not operate a trust account. Accordingly, I do not take on matters that require funds to flow through trust. I invoice for my legal services upon completion of a service, upon completion of a matter, or monthly and payment is due immediately when I bill you. Because I do not take a retainer deposit in advance, I reserve the right to withhold your records pursuant to a lien until my invoices are paid in full. One of the ways that I am able to control costs for all clients is to avoid inefficiencies, like time spent collecting accounts. You agree to ensure that accounts are paid immediately and agree that accounts overdue by 30 days or more will accrue interest at a rate of 2% per month, compounded monthly (27.1% per year).
I accept payment by check, direct transfer, or by credit card. I do not accept cash payments for services or disbursements.
5. JOINT REPRESENTATION
If you have asked me to represent more than one person (including corporate "persons") in respect of my legal services, this is called "joint representation." Representing you jointly simply means I will be engaged by both of you to act on the same matter at the same time. Lawyers may act jointly for clients, but only when their interests are not in conflict.
If you do not believe your interests are in conflict, and I agree with your assessment, I may act for you jointly. However, it is possible that your interests could diverge or even conflict in the future. Because of this possibility, I am required to raise certain issues with you and obtain your consent to the course to be followed if a conflict arises. The following will apply to my joint representation of you:
I owe each of you a duty of undivided loyalty. This means I must act in each of your best interests at all times and must not favor the interests of one of you over the interests of another, or allow anything to interfere with my loyalty to each of you or my judgment on your behalf. If I am unable to fulfill this duty of undivided loyalty to each of you, I will have to withdraw.
No information I receive from one of you, or from any other source with respect to my legal services, can be treated as confidential from either of you. This means that, as long as my joint representation continues, I must disclose relevant information to both of you. However, should I receive information from any source that makes it clear we are in a conflict by acting for you jointly, or if a contentious issue arises between you, I must cease acting for both of you in the matter unless the conflict is resolved.
If I have acted for, and have a continuing relationship with, one or more of you in one or more related matters, I recommend that each of you obtain independent legal advice on the issue of us acting for both of you on a joint retainer given our continuing relationship.
If I receive or have received confidential information from one of you, I will have to withdraw from this matter unless I receive consent from the relevant party to disclose that information.
If a conflict/contentious issue arises between you, you have the option to settle the conflict/contentious issue by direct negotiation with one another, or if you both agree that you want us to assist you in attempting to resolve an issue we may decide to do so, as long as the issue in our view falls short of an actual conflict between you. If a conflict is resolved by direct negotiation between you, or if an issue short of an actual conflict is resolved with or without my assistance, I may then continue to represent both of you.
If a conflict arises between you and that conflict is not resolved, and if at the time of the issue arising both of you agree that we may continue working for one of you, will I will refer the other or others to another lawyer.
If a conflict arises between you that is not resolved, then I will cease to represent both of you and I will refer you each to outside lawyers.
Although joint representation of a number of clients by a single lawyer or law firm has some advantages, there are aspects of joint representation that could lead to the potential problems I have outlined above. For that reason, I ask that you consent to the potential course of action we have outlined before I commence acting for both of you jointly.
6. NO TAX ADVICE
I encourage you to obtain detailed tax planning advice regarding your matter from a qualified tax professional. Although I may advise on general tax principles from a legal perspective, I will not provide any specific tax advice in your matter.
This too shall pass. There will be a day when I can no longer serve my clients. As a sole-practitioner, I consider matters of resilience and continuity throughout my law practice. Access to my records is available to my executor. In the event of my death or incapacitation, the Law Society will assign a custodian to wind-down my practice. Keep calm and carry on because there won’t be much to wind-down:
I do not operate a trust account and do not have custody of client funds;
I provide all finalized documents to clients upon completion of each matter;
clients are notified of all corporate filing deadlines and asked to add these deadlines to their respective calendars;
I do not retain paper records on behalf of clients.
8. RECORDS RETENTION
I do not retain paper records. All paper-based originals are scanned and either returned to the client or destroyed. If you would like to retain paper copies of all records related to your file, please inform me of this requirement when I open your file.
You may terminate my services at any time on written notice to my email address. Subject to my obligations to maintain proper standards of professional conduct, I may terminate my services for good reasons, which may include (without necessarily being limited to):
If you or any of your representatives fail to cooperate with any of my reasonable requests;
If there is a serious loss of confidence between us;
If you fail to provide me with satisfactory identification materials as required above;
If our continuing to act would be unethical or impractical; or
If my invoices are not paid when due.
If my services are terminated, you would only have to pay my fees, disbursements, other charges, and the applicable taxes incurred up until the time I stopped acting on your behalf
10. AMENDMENT & MODIFICATION
This agreement is subject to any other terms that we may set out by email.
I may also change the terms of this agreement by providing written notice to you. Upon delivery of notice regarding any changes, you will be deemed to agree with such change unless you notify me in writing within 10 business days after receiving notice and, in any event, before I provide further legal services. My ability to change the terms of our engagement will always remain subject to your right to terminate my services in accordance with these Terms of Service
Communications between myself and my clients are protected by solicitor-client privilege.
I employ administrative and technical measures to ensure that the security of my communications is consistent with the sensitivity of the information being protected.
Hopefully, this puts us all on the same page. I look forward to working with you.
Questions? Let’s talk.