It is important for a retainer agreement…

It is important for a retainer agreement to set forth the tasks that the attorney will perform on behalf of the client, as well as those which are outside of the tasks to be performed. This was emphasized in the following decision of Keld v Giddins Claman, LLP, 170 AD3d 589 [1st Dept 2019]:

The retainer agreement entered into by plaintiff and defendant law firm constitutes documentary evidence which utterly refutes plaintiff’s claims (see generally Leon v. Martinez, 84 N.Y.2d 83, 88, 614 N.Y.S.2d 972, 638 N.E.2d 511 [1994]; CPLR 3211[a][1] ). The scope of services defendant was to provide plaintiff in connection with her purchase of a condominium unit was clearly limited by the retainer agreement. The retainer agreement enumerated the legal services defendants would provide including the review, preparation, and/or negotiation of specific documents related to the closing and the investigation and analysis of issues relating to title. Plaintiff’s allegation that the agreement required defendants to manage all aspects of the purchase including advising on inspections for safety, quality of renovation and environmental issues is without merit. These duties are outside the scope of the retainer (see AmBase Corp. v. Davis Polk & Wardwell, 8 N.Y.3d 428, 435, 834 N.Y.S.2d 705, 866 N.E.2d 1033 [2007] ). Thus, plaintiff cannot maintain a legal malpractice claim against defendants.

R. A. Klass
Your Court Street Lawyer

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