September 22, 2021

Adjuster Practice Tip: Attorney Assignments — Don’t Just Mail it In

The “usual” way of assigning cases to outside defense counsel is to mail or email the claim file with a cover letter.  Nothing wrong with this, but go a step further.  Calendar a few days after the assignment gets to counsel’s desk to reach out and phone counsel. Or, instruct defense counsel to call you upon receipt of the assignment.

Take 5 to 10 minutes to

  • discuss the assignment,
  • discuss the scope of the work that the adjuster desires and to
  • ask the attorney to provide some estimate (within 30-90 days) of the cost of handling the case.

This telephone exchange is also an opportunity for the adjuster to add some commentary that may not have fit into the assignment sheet or cover letter. There may be other features about handling the case that you prefer not to put in the cover letter that you can convey to defense counsel by phone.

Do more than just “mail it in” when making an  assignment to defense counsel. Follow-up with a initial, albeit brief, phone call to set the tone, set expectations and forge the foundation for a productive working relationship.

Yes, it may consume a bit more time in the short run. If it avoids misunderstandings, billing overruns or strategic missteps, however, it is time well spent.

Amidst all of the high-tech methods of communicating, e-mail, instant messenger, social media, we can often lose sight that there is a handy technological device that allows us to actually communicate with people in real time. It’s called a . . . telephone.

When making initial assignments to defense counsel, feel free to send a assignment letter, but supplement that by picking up the phone as well to elaborate and provide context for the case assignment.

Any other thoughts on ways to improve the assignment process to outside counsel?  Post your thoughts here or email them to

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