“On November 13th, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right. But he also knew that someday he would return to her.”
It seems only fitting to mark the anniversary of Felix’s eviction (and the recent passing of Murray the Cop) with some sage legal advice courtesy of everyone’s favorite neat freak/hypochondriac/opera buff. After his divorce, Felix had his share of dalliances; he even tried to rekindle his relationship with his high school sweetheart (“There’s nobody cleaner than Mildred Fleener”). But he always held out hope that his ex-wife Gloria would welcome him back. And indeed — SPOILER ALERT (if you can have such a thing for a show that ended 40 years ago) — she did. Before it became fashionable to have a final episode, the series concluded with the second wedding of Felix and Gloria. For as much as Gloria was always in Felix’s heart, he recognized the need to formalize the renewed relationship with new vows.
Lawyers, take note. After our work for a client has concluded, we, like Felix, hope that the client will someday return. We keep in touch with them, maybe take them out to dinner. We forward them marketing material and do formal pitches. And when they return we are happy.
But make no mistake — like Felix and Gloria, lawyers must formalize this renewed relationship. If two years (or even less) have passed since you last did work for a client, don’t assume you can just pick where you left off. Why not? Felix answers that as well:
There are lots of issues to be addressed first: Has the entity’s ownership changed? Has a colleague undertaken a matter adverse to the erstwhile client? Does the client expect to pay two-year old rates? For all these reasons (and more) you must go through the new matter intake process, including running a conflicts check and issuing a new engagement letter, before undertaking new work for a former client. This way there’s no confusion about who our client is, what waivers (if any) are required, and what are the terms of the engagement.
As good a lesson as we learn from Felix (and the above clip notwithstanding), Felix’s forays into the practice of law were generally less than successful. So here’s another tip — if you choose to hire a commercial photographer (portraits a specialty) as your lawyer, let it be on your head.