Client care letter template for solicitors
Solicitor's client care and terms of business templates toolkit
Save hours of time with our template client care letter and template terms of business for solicitors. Fully updated to comply with the latest SRA rule changes and guidance on how client care information should now be presented. No subscription necessary.
Solicitor's office manual PLUS client care and terms of business
Refresh your SRA risk and compliance manual at the same time by buying a bundle which includes both the client care and terms of business template toolkit and our incredibly popular template solicitor’s office manual. No subscription necessary.
About our template client care letter and terms of business for solicitor’s firms
Simply purchase the templates on our online shop by following the links above and you will immediately gain access to the Word templates for tailoring. The toolkit includes some guidance on the most common areas for tailoring the templates to your individual needs.
What is a client care letter?
A client care letter summarises the key information which the client of a solicitor’s firm needs to know about how their legal matter is going to be dealt with. Strictly speaking, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Codes of Conduct only require the information on how to make a complaint to be in writing. The SRA has scrapped virtually all of the prescription which used to be in place about the need to have a client care letter and what you had to include in it. There is much more flexibility now. However, in practice solicitors will need to clearly set out for clients key information about their case such as how the firm can help, costs, who is dealing and how long it will take. A covering letter to the terms of business remains the most popular way to do this and we call this letter the ‘client care letter’.
Is your client care letter compliant with the new SRA checklist?
Most solicitor’s client care letters, and surprisingly even many of the templates still available to purchase, fall short of SRA’s new expectations for this documentation. There has been a dramatic shift in the standards required. The SRA loathes lengthy detailed client care letters full of text and boiler plate details. We can summarise the SRA’s client care checklist into the following questions:
1. Is your client care letter concise? It should not be too lengthy. The SRA encourages firms to think about whether some information could be separated out such as into the terms of business. This is the approach which we take in our template. We give the client the absolutely essential information over one or two pages and then all of the detail goes into the terms of business. Some solicitors are using our templates in simple matters to cut their client care letter down to just one page. Two pages is more common of course which is still a vast improvement.
2. Is it easy for the client to read and in plain English? Your client care letter should avoid legalistic language or jargon particularly for vulnerable clients. This is less of a concern if you are working with legally experienced clients but fundamentally you need to be certain that clients can quickly understand your communications.
3. Do you highlight key information such as by using headings, bold text or icons? Our templates try to use headings, frames and even (gasps) icons as much as possible to lay the facts out clearly for the client. It makes it easier for the client to navigate.
4. Do you explain what is going to happen and when? It can be difficult to give an exact timescale for completion of a matter. However, you should at least be able to give the client some idea even if it is between two brackets or split into different eventualities. There is a temptation to save time by using standard wording for all matters but if you can generate a slightly more granular approach (albeit still using standard wording very often) it can go a very long way to managing client expectations and appeasing the regulator.
5. Is it clear how much the matter is going to cost? You must give the client the best possible information about how much their legal matters is going to cost overall. We see a lot of client care letters which only provide a price for a very small part of the overall transaction. It can be difficult to give an overall estimate of costs but again you should try to use brackets or broad estimates for different scenarios. It should be exceptional, if at all, that you cannot give some idea of the overall legal costs of a matter.
6. Is it obvious to the client what they need to do next? This is another area where many of the client care letters which we see tend to fall short. Often what the client needs to do next is littered piecemeal over 12 pages, with ID documentation dealt within one page and other matters specific information on another. Our template encourages a short bullet point list at the end of the letter to set out with absolute clarity exactly what the client must do next and how to do it.
7. Is it clear what the purpose of your client care letter is? If you can follow the other points in this checklist, this one should take care of itself. A concise, clearly laid out letter summarising the key information and next steps should be obvious what it is there to do. It is when letters drag on over many pages covering, meshing key information with boiler plate terms, that the purpose becomes less clear.
8. Have you tailored the letter? It should not include irrelevant generic information
9. Have you included your contact details?
You can view the full SRA guidance in its own words on its website but rest assured our template client care letter and terms of business provide the perfect starting point for ticking off all of these boxes.
Reducing complaints, investigations and wasted time
The fundamental point to bear in mind is that you have professional obligations to ensure that clients understand the likely overall costs, timescales and prospects of success for their legal matter. If you can achieve this at the outset you also dramatically reduce your risks of an adverse finding by either the SRA of the Legal Ombudsman for legal complaints if a concern is raised later. Speed of progress and costs are two of the most common areas for complaints being made to the Ombudsman. It is a stressful and potentially very costly process, with decisions being published on the internet. If you can manage expectations and achieve absolutely clarity at the outset you could dramatically reduce the risk of wasting time and money on later grumbles. You also strengthen your position in the event of a difficult customer. If the costs and timescales are very clearly set out at the outset it is difficult to see how a complaint about eventual timescales or costs which are consistent with those estimates could be justified.
Frequently asked questions:
What format does your client care and terms of business template come in?
All of our templates are immediately accessible upon purchase in a Word file. This allows you to amend the templates to best suit your needs. Please contact us if you require alternative formats before purchasing this item.
Are the templates up to date with the latest SRA requirements?
Yes. We work very hard to ensure that our templates remain up to date with the latest rule changes. The templates have been updated to account for the new SRA rulebook (SRA Standards and Regulations 2019) in force from 25 November 2019. When you buy our templates from the shop it is a one off purchase without updates. If you would prefer to subscribe to our templates to access to the most up to date versions you can do so with a compliance office in the cloud subscription. Get in touch for more information.
Do I need to subscribe?
Have the templates been approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)?
The SRA do not approve templates and do not generally provide their own for use in the profession. However, the SRA have set out quite clear expectations for client care letters in recent guidance and our templates are in keeping with the approach now expected by the regulator.
Do you provide guidance on tailoring the template client care letter and terms of business for solicitors?
We price our templates competitively and without the inclusion of any consultancy support as standard. However, we do work with a number of consultants and some external solicitors who can help you tailor your client care letter and terms to your individual circumstances. Contact us if you would like more information about this.
As you can see from the image above, our solicitor’s client care template keeps things as simple as possible. It focuses on the key information which the client requires only. The rest of the detail is included in the solicitor’s template terms of business. The contents are therefore very simple::
- How we can help
- Costs information
- Key people
- Next steps
And that’s it! Click on the next tab to see the much more comprehensive list of items covered in our terms of business template.
Our template terms of business includes the more in-depth information the SRA would expect to see a firm providing to its clients:
- About us – including the information about how the firm is regulated
- Charging information
- Payment of interest policy
- Terminating instructions
- Client protections
- Complaints policy
- Privacy notice
- Anti-money laundering information