Risk Management Issues in Pro Bono Representations

Representing pro bono clients is rewarding work. It allows attorneys to use their skills to give back to their community and to serve the less fortunate. However, representing pro bono clients may mean increased risk for attorneys. The good news is that any increased risk can be managed to help ensure that attorneys working on pro bono matters are able to serve their pro bono clients without creating issues of liability for themselves.

Use an Engagement Letter to Define the Relationship

Most firms require an engagement letter when they commence the representation of a paying client. They should similarly require one for any pro bono representation. The engagement letter helps signify to the client that the attorney-client relationship is beginning, and it helps protect the attorney down the road from any misunderstandings regarding the representation.

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Shari Klevens is a partner at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington, D.C., and associate general counsel for the firm. Alanna Clair is an associate at McKenna Long & Aldridge in Washington, D.C.

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