New York – The Power of An Engagement Letter
By Will Jordan
Two recent decisions out of New York highlight the benefit of a well-drafted engagement letter in legal malpractice litigation. In Rothman v. McLaughlin & Stern, LLP, in which the Plaintiff claimed the lawyer failed to conduct due diligence in connection with the Plaintiff’s acquisition of two companies, the court dismissed the Plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim because “the retainer agreement excluded due diligence from the scope of representation.” As Staples would say, “That was easy.” In Lombardi v. Lombardi, the court dismissed the Plaintiff’s legal malpractice claim on the ground that there was no attorney-client relationship. The court noted “there must be an explicit undertaking to perform a specific task” in order for an attorney-client relationship to exist. The Plaintiff could point to no such explicit undertaking and the court granted summary judgment in the lawyer’s favor.