What Is an Attorney Letter of Representation?
If you are notified of a legal case filed against you, or you file a legal case against someone else, it is very likely that you have an attorney who represents you and your interests. Once you hire an attorney, they will send a legal letter of representation to any other attorneys or parties involved in your case.
Why do you need a legal letter of representation?
The purpose of a legal letter of representation is to inform any other parties involved in the case that you have a lawyer or a law firm representing you in the case. This provides all parties with the understanding of who to communicate within reference to the case.
For example, if you are in a car accident, the legal letter of representation informs the person involved or responsible for the accident, and their insurance company, that you have a lawyer to whom all communication should go.
It can be quite useful to hire a lawyer and to send the legal letter of representation because often, it is enough to encourage the other parties to initiate a negotiation process, rather than pursuing further legal action.
What is included in a letter of representation from a lawyer?
A lawyer representation letter, sometimes called a legal letter of representation, is a document your lawyer sends to the opposing lawyers, called “opposing counsel”, which explains that they are now your legal representative. The letter explains that they, as the lawyer, now represent your interests in the legal case.
An attorney representation letter can be used for an individual, multiple people, a legal entity, or a business.
For example: Linda was in a car accident. As she is dealing with injuries due to the other person’s actions, she tries to send documents pertaining to the accident to the insurance company representing the other parties. In these documents, Linda is attempting to get the insurance company to process her request for compensation due to the accident, however, it is not going well. So, Linda hires a personal injury lawyer to represent her in her legal case against the insurance company. The attorney representing Linda sends a notice to the insurer informing them that their law firm now represents Linda and all information or documents sent to Linda, must go through them.
There are many other situations where legal representation is beneficial:
- Tax issues brought against an individual or business where the individual or business hires an attorney to fight the IRS on their behalf.
- Contested divorces where one party initiates a divorce and decides to pursue the case in court in order to divide assets and/or receive legal custody over the children.
- Wrongful termination cases where an individual files a legal claim against their former employer due to an incident at work.
- Class action lawsuits where a group of individuals hire legal representation to file a collective lawsuit against a company due to negligence or false advertising.
When should you send an attorney representation letter?
The most common scenario when individuals choose to hire an attorney is in personal injury cases or accident cases, especially if the insurance company is being difficult and their case goes to court.
In these types of cases, an attorney representation letter will be sent when an individual, such as Linda:
- Decides to initiate a legal claim against another person or
- Receives notice of a legal claim filed against them and wishes to secure representation for the court process.
No matter when it is sent, a legal letter of representation signals to the other party or parties that you now have legal representation. If the other party or parties involved in the case also have legal representation, then the letter lets their law firm know that you have now secured legal representation as well.
The sooner you have secured representation and send the legal letter of representation, the sooner you will be able to expedite any negotiations.
For example: Mike is fired. He believes he was fired because the boss had a personal vendetta against Mike for revealing a serious liability with one of the company’s new products, which Mike’s boss designed. When Mike revealed this product liability to the CEO, Mike’s boss got in trouble and Mike was fired shortly after. Mike attempts to file a claim against the company for wrongful termination, sending a letter explaining the events that transpired and the type of compensation he is pursuing. The company ignores his communication and takes no action. Based on their inaction, Mike hires an attorney who immediately sends the company and their lawyers a legal representation letter. In the letter, the attorney explains the circumstances, what Mike is pursuing for compensation, and what action the company should take. Seeing that Mike now has official legal representation, the company decides to respond to Mike and his request. Whereas they were happy to ignore his communications without an attorney, they are now willing to communicate through their lawyers.
In this example, it is clear that having an attorney, and the act of sending the legal representation letter, can be effective in any negotiation as it demonstrates to the other side that you mean business.
How to write a legal representation letter
The attorney you hire will be the person writing the legal representation letter. The letter will include information about who is being represented, by whom, and why.
The letter should also include:
- The names of attorneys or paralegals who are the lead on the case,
- The scope of any injuries, so that an adjuster can review the case,
- Any policy limit requests, usually for personal injury cases.
Sample attorney representation letter
Below is a sample attorney representation letter for a case involving a car accident and a personal injury lawyer:
January 10, 2019
Mr. Mark MacDougan
1 State Farm Blvd
Chico, VA 55555
Re: Injuries sustained
Our Client: John Smith
Your Insured: Betty Black
Date of Accident: October 15, 2018
Dear Mr. MacDougan:
Please be advised that our firm represents the above-named client for the broken arm, fractured leg, and other injuries sustained as a result of a car accident with your insured. Your insured ran a stop sign on October 15, 2018 in front of multiple witnesses including the Chico police officer who thereafter arrested your client on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. I do not suspect responsibility for this accident will be disputed.
I will forward to your office the medical bills and car accident reports from my client once they are available. We will continue to keep you apprised of any significant treatment developments.
Please inform me as to the policy limit associated with your insured and any other insurance coverages that could apply. There is some concern that this case will involve policy limits.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me directly.
An attorney letter of representation is a legal document that explaining that an attorney or law firm is now the acting legal representation for an individual, group, or business. It is used in any number of legal situations such as professional malpractice, car accidents, business lawsuits, family law issues like divorce or custody, and all types of personal injury cases. If you need a lawyer to help you file a claim against someone or against a company, or you have a case filed against yourself or your company, securing representation is the next step and thereafter, sending the attorney letter of representation.