Good Risk Management: Use an “I Am Not Your Lawyer” Letter

On occasion you will meet with people who are connected with a matter but not otherwise your client. For example, where you have met with several people during the creation of a business and will end up acting for the business but not for one or more of the individuals. Or, where you meet with the children of an elderly couple in the course of doing estate planning work. In these cases an “I am not your lawyer” letter can serve to make it crystal clear for which individuals you are and are not acting.

Here is a model “I am not your lawyer” letter:

[Firm letterhead ]

[Delivery method ]

[Date]

[Non-client address]

Dear sir/madam:

Re: [Subject ]
We are writing further to our meeting on [insert date]. We want to confirm that we will be representing [Name the party or parties the firm will represent ] in connection with [Provide details regarding the nature of the firm’s mandate or the transaction].

We will not, however, be representing you personally. Although we understand your personal involvement in this matter and anticipate having much contact with you throughout our mandate, please understand that you, personally, are not our client. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you consult with your own lawyer regarding issues which have an impact on your personal interests in this matter.

We further confirm that we have not received any confidential information regarding your interests in the matter. [Where communications with the non-client involved document or property exchange: We return herewith those documents we reviewed regarding this matter and confirm that we are not in possession of any documents or property belonging to [non-client ]]

[In Quebec only (required by The Charter of the French language) : This letter of agreement has been drafted in English at the express request of the parties. Cette lettre d’entente a été rédigée en anglais à la demande expresse des parties.]

Please confirm your receipt of this letter by signing and returning a copy to my attention.

Thank you very much, and we look forward to working with you.

Yours truly,
[Lawyer signature]

I, hereby acknowledge receipt of the above letter and my agreement with all that is stated in it.

[Signature]

[Date]

The above model letter is one of the documents in the Conflicts of Interest Toolkit created by the Canadian Bar Association’s Task Force on Conflicts on Interest. The Task Force adapted it from similar model letters created by William Frievogel and the Law Society of British Columbia.

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Comments

  1. Very useful advice. If this is in a book of models, however, maybe some of the legalese could be edited out, like ‘further to’, ‘herewith’ and ‘hereby’. It comes across as stuffier than it needs to be. (I assume that the comma after ‘I’ in the acknowledgement line is a typo, possibly left over from a model that said, ‘I, ….[name]……., acknowledge …’.)

    Does the Charter of the French Language require an express choice of language when the document is not a contract or an offer? (Does the CBA precedent book have the precedents in both languages, come to that?)