It is a requirement for the Client Report that you have a written contract. This written contract is submittted with the resultant report.
I have written a lot of contracts in my life because of my background (architect) so this step was not intimidating to me. I find it not worthwhile to try to write these from “scratch” and so I always use a template or some previous example. The book Professional Genealogist has a couple of options, a formal contract and a letter type. Both are acceptable. Using the letter type, I wrote the contract between my friend and I. The hardest part was putting into words the work that I was to do for my friend as her request was to “know more about Jens”. Where to start and stop with that? With an unknown client, I would have pinned them down to a greater level of specificity or time limit. This scope of work was kept looser.
The letter also made reference to 2 different Codes of Ethics (APG & BCG) and one Standard (NGS). I reread them all.
I do think it reasonable to do a little preliminary work to see what sort of records are “out there”. For example, it is not reasonable to put a 10 hour timeline on tracing your “Martian alien” ancestor if there are no records available for Martians; it seems not fair to the client unless the client is aware of the limitations of records.
I admit that my work output is reduced right now as I am engrossed in the Ken Burn’s Prohibition series on Public Television. An amazing work and so suitable for today. The message at the end was loud and clear.
What I did today: wrote the contract for the client work and did some on line work on Jens’s wife, Anna/Anne/Annie. Found out she had 3 siblings, 2 sisters and 1 brother. I can tell Jens is going to be harder to track down.