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Know the Limits on Attorney Fees

Attorneys can’t always get what they want in attorney fees. There are statutory limitations, fees subject to court approval, and fee agreements that violate public policy. Continue reading

Fee Agreements: Say What You Won’t Be Doing

thinkstockphotos-493171033Many times you can anticipate related services that you don’t intend to provide under the existing fee agreement with the client, but that the client might want provided. Like when you’re retained to negotiate a dispute, but not to litigate it. Or a settlement may have tax consequences for the client, but you won’t be giving tax advice. Be fair to the client and protect yourself by stating any excluded services in your fee agreement. Continue reading

Read This Before You Go the Contingency Fee Route

ThinkstockPhotos-135547447Among the several alternatives to the traditional hourly fee arrangement, contingency fees have been commonly used for decades. Under a contingent fee agreement, the attorney and client agree that the attorney will receive a particular percentage of the client’s recovery or of the savings obtained for the client as a fee for legal services, if there is a recovery. The attorney takes on the risk with the potential for significant reward. Not surprisingly, there are statutory requirements for these types of agreements—and failing to comply with them is risky, too. Continue reading

Review Your Hourly Fee Agreement

ThinkstockPhotos-481542709Hourly billing for legal services has been criticized for, among other things, discouraging attorney efficiency and providing the client with no predictability of cost (see, e.g., ABA Commission on Billable Hours Report 2001-2002) and has even been declared dead. But traditional hourly billing is still the most common type of fee arrangement in many types of practices. If you go the hourly route for at least some of your practice, review these points to be sure you are following best practices and are in compliance with the law. Continue reading

Confidentiality Among Co-Clients?

ThinkstockPhotos-97050627Whenever you’re representing multiple clients with respect to the same subject matter, make sure to address the issue of confidentiality right at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship—in fact, you should cover it in your fee agreement. Continue reading

When Someone Else Is Paying Your Fees

money_89682134When, in a noncontingent matter, a third party is paying all or some of the attorney fees for your client, do you know how to deal with the issues that can arise? Short answer: Address them upfront in your fee agreement. Here are sample provisions to get you started. Continue reading

Suing Your Client to Get Paid

Law firms are getting more aggressive about suing clients for unpaid legal bills. As the New York Law Journal says, what used to be “unseemly” may become routine. But bringing a breach of contract action against a client for unpaid fees is a very tricky business: first, you have to get out of the attorney-client relationship, and then you have to invoke your (hopefully) enforceable fee agreement.

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