Made an offhand post to the ABA GP Solo LinkedIn group the other day. THought it was worth sharing here.
When a prospect doesn’t hire you, should you send them a non-engagement letter? But of course. Here are my four reasons to do so.
The first reason is obvious – to have a track in your file that says you notified the person you were not representing them. That’s just good risk management, and most malpractice carriers love it when you do that.
The second is about professionalism. Someone considered putting their well-being in your hands. That’s an honor that deserves a “thank you.”
And the third is that thing called “marketing.” Part of the letter should detail how else you might be able to help them or someone they know in the future.
And the fourth follows the third. They should now be added to your marketing database for future contact (you DO keep in touch with past clients and prospects, don’t you??). By the rules of ethics, once someone has asked you for information, there are no barriers to future contact. It’s no longer considered “solicitation.” You can send them your firm newsletter (please don’t – they’re usually boring as H–) or better, devise some good and positive ways to communicate with them that they receive as positive, helpful and useful.
Those last are numbers two and four of the four fundamentals of personal marketing: build trust relationships, and stay in touch consistently over time. In other words, create “top of mind awareness” so that, next time they have a problem, they think of you first.
Oh, and it’s never a good idea to prejudge or assert anything about a case or the prospect in the letter. You could easily be sued for giving bad legal advice (after all, you didn’t get to the discovery, did you?) or defamation of character. So it’s best to simply say “I am not able to represent you at this time.”