A standard practice for law firms and attorneys in Minnesota is sending a Non-Engagement Letter (i.e. Togstad Letter) to everyone who contacts the firm or lawyer but does not hire the firm or lawyer.
While this may sound like an unnecessary burden, it is the best way for a lawyer or law firm to avoid potential legal liability after the case of Togstad v. Vesely, Otto, Miller & Keefe, 291 N.W. 2d 686 (1980).
It is common for someone to contact a lawyer, and either the lawyer declines representation or the person decides not to hire the lawyer. The lawyer wants to avoid the person from coming back later to claim, “I missed the deadline because the lawyer I met with did not warn me of the statute of limitations deadline,” or “I missed the deadline because the lawyer implied I had no case.”
In 1980, the Minnesota Supreme Court held a law firm liable for failing to notify someone the firm’s lawyer met with because the lawyer declined to represent the person and failed to notify the person of deadlines under the statute of limitations. In that case, the court held the attorney “acted negligently in failing to inform [the person] of the applicable limitations period.”
Togstad Letter Template
Here is a template of the Togstad notice our firm sends to people who contact our firm but do not retain our firm:
LEGAL NOTICE. Under state law, we are required to tell you that there are statutes of limitation and legal deadlines for your situation. Failure to act within these times can result in a waiver of your rights. We have made no representations to you regarding these deadlines. Accordingly, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible should you wish to pursue this matter further.
Unlike other templates, this one maintains simplicity. It does not require customization for every client. Administrative staff can easily email it to anyone who contacts our firm by email.
In plain language, our Togstad notice tells people it is up to them to take action to protect their rights.
Learn more by reading this article discussing the Togstad case written in 1980.