– Below are ethicalEsq-f/k/a postings and annotated web resources on this topic. Find our full list of annotated ethics links by clicking the Client Rights & Legal Ethics link on the Navigation Bar.
- “understanding and reducing attorney fees” (February 28, 2009)
- “crushed by clocks? insulted by intervals” [ALF #4; is hourly billing an insult to lawyers? of course not] (Feb. 26, 2009)
- “don’t forget those minimum fee schedules” [ALF #3] (Feb. 24, 2009)
- “foxes guarding the golden eggs” [ALF #2] (February 24, 2009)
- “other thoughtful voices on the lawyer billing debate” [ALF#1] (Feb. 22, 2009)
- “GAL’s alternative universe” (Feb. 5, 2009)
- “value pricing by lawyers raises many ethical red flags” ” (Dec. 3, 2008)
- “smart clients care about . . . marketplace ‘value’” (Nov. 25, 2008)
- “doubts over debt negotiation fees” (July 22, 2008)
- “unconscionable silence over Graubard’s $42 million contingency fee” (December 11, 2007)
- “time, fees, flu, pumpkins, too” (Oct. 10, 2007)
- “finally: NLJ on the realities of alternative billing” (Sept. 11, 2007)
- contingency fees and the clueless fiduciary Sept.4, 2007
- why do lawyers lie (about contingency fees)? Aug. 29, 2007
- broadening the billable hour debate Aug. 18, 2007
- presumed ignorant: Scott Turow on the Billable Hour July 26, 2007
- lawyers and cashews (and premium pricing) May 9, 2006
- the ETHICS and ECONOMICS of STANDARD CONTINGENCY FEES: Part I (Market failures); Part II (risk matters); Part III (do “standard” fees still exist?); and Part IV (ethical duties) -
- the value-billing babysitter (March 23, 2006)
- we need more low-fee lawyers (even in Ohio!) (March 22, 2006)
- even NYT scapegoats the billable hour (March19, 2006)
- “lawyer entitlement and the cost of legal services” (Nov. 30, 2005)
- when outsourcing, just pass on the cost (June 28, 2005)
- seminal cases can shape a lawyer’s psyche (June 25, 2005)
- “ethics aside” (April 8, 2005)
- LexThink about higher fees (er, value billing) (April 4, 2005)
- Injured Consumers’ Bill of Rights for Contingency Fees (April 1, 2005)
- (An April Fool’s Dream) ATLA Condemns Standard Contingency Fee (April 1, 2005)
- chronomentrophobia [the fear of clocks] (Jan. 7, 2005)
- a Canadian role model (Jan. 5, 2005) (contingency fees, trust, etc.)
- licensing fattens lawyer income says study (Dec. 3, 2004)
- Posting 07-16-04 contingency fee competition: PB&N tv ad
- Posting 04-06-04 98% Win Rate: Where’s the Risk?
- Posting 03/06/04 Deceptive Billing Brings Disbarment
- Sanction This (Firm)! [for excessive hourly billing quotas] (March 1, 2004)
- Posting 02/26/04 Mass. Counsel Seek Fair Funding & Fees
- Posting 02/24/04 A Large Incentive to Proof-Read Pleadings
- Posting 02/23/04 Tennessee Loosens Its Discipline Gag Rule
- Posting 02/23/04 Better Data Show Contingency Fees Too High
- Posting 02/19/04 Lawyer Lincoln Was a Bargain
- Posting 02/17/04 Value Billing or Venal Bilking?
- Posting 02/12/04 Fees and the Lawyer-Fiduciary
- Posting 01/31/04 Valuable Debate on Value Billing
- Posting 01/28/04 Fiduciary Duties and Contingency Fees
- Posting 01/28/04 Value Billing and Lawyer Ethics
- Posting 01/24/04 Undergrounder Feels Under Attack (re standard cont. fees)
- Posting 01/13/04 Another Great Reason to Negotiate Contingency Fees (taxes)
- Posting 01/07/04 Suggestions for the ABA/TIPS Contingency Fee Task Force
- Posting 12/15/03 Honest Lawyer Says Tobacco Fee Claim Excessive
- Posting 12/03/03 Non-Litigating Lawyers on Trial
- Posting 10/03/03 Missouri Lawyers Come Late to the Party, Still Get a $111 Million Slice of the Tobacco Fee Pie
- Posting 09/18/03 Even Struggling Lawyers for the Poor Don’t Get Antitrust Immunity
- Posting 09/08/03 NY Top Court Asked to Review Tobacco Fees
- Posting 9/05/03 It’s Not Unusual (to take one-third)
- Posting 9/03/03 Rate Calculator Added to Bristol County Lawyers’ Website
- Posting 9/03/03 Contingency Fees Lure Ever More Advertising
- Posting 9/01/03 Bristol County to Boston via Cyberspace
- Posting 8/29/03 Skeptical About Motives When Lawyers Stop Taking Malpractice Cases
- Posting 8/17/03 Why the Bay State Lawyer Boycott is Illegal
- Posting 08/01/03 Appellate Court Disses and Dismisses Judge Ramos’ Attempt to Trim Tobacco Fees
- Posting 7/30/03 Kritzer Contingency Fee Article: More Bunk Than Debunk
- Posting 7/29/03 Professor Continues to Fight New Model Rule 1.5 and Contingency Fees
- Posting 7/16/03 A Bar President Writes About Contingency Fees
- Posting 7/16/03 Challenge to Public Citizen: Help Fix the Contingency Fee System (get the current rules enforced . . . )
- Posting 7/14/03 Improving Lawyer Fee and Retainer Agreements
- Posting 6/30/03 New Arizona Rules Reject Ethics 2000 Fee Conspiracy
- Posting 6/18/03 Fiduciaries Everywhere: Except in the Mirror?
- Posting 6/12/03 UnCommonly Good Advice on Contingency Fees
- Posting 6/7/03 FTC Opposes Inflated Fees Based on Face Value of Coupons
- Posting 6/6/03 Let Your Fingers Walk for Me
- Posting 6/03/03 Got My First Hate Mail
- Posting 6/03/03 Using a Standard Contingency Fee is Often Unethical
- Posting 6/02/03 A Fee Hike Even I Like
- Posting 5/31/03 Is a Fee Ever Too Big?
- Posting 5/30/03 Personal Injury [P/I] Lawyers v. Common Good
Intro to ABA Statement on Principles in Billing (American Bar Association; The Task Force on Lawyer Business Ethics, 1996). Plaintalk on the ethical use of the billable hour, and on charging for costs. In a nutshell, you can comply with Model Rule 1.5 by (a) basing the fee on the experience and capabilities of the lawyer, and complexity of the matter; (b) performing in an efficient and competent manner; and (c) keeping the client well-informed. See Rule 1.5 and the Task Force Report for more details.
Fiduciary Duty to Disclose: Prof. Lester Brickman has explained: “The principal fiduciary obligations imposed on the lawyer include the duties of confidentiality, loyalty, safeguarding property, giving disinterested advice, and acting fairly towards the client. The duties to act fairly and in a non-self-interested fashion, in particular, relate to the financial relationship between the lawyer and client. ” (The Continuing Assault on the Citadel of Fiduciary Protection, University of Illinois Law Review, 2003, at 1185-86; available at SSRN). Learn more about fiduciary duties in f/k/a postings such as “Fees and the Lawyer Fiduciary” (02/12/04).
The Objective of Professional Licensing In “What is the Objective of Professional Licensing? Evidence from the US Market for Lawyers” (Nov 2004), Turin Univ. Profesoor Mario Pagliero finds that the objective of such regulation in the USA is explained by capture theory, rather than public interest theory, and that “licensing increases annual entry salaries by more than $20,000, ” with a total welfare loss of over $6 billion. This link accesses an abstract, but the entire study is available with a free registration.
Brickman Testimony on Contingency Fees Cardozo Law professor Lester Brickman presented these comments to the ABA’s Ethics 2000 Commission, stressing the need for explicit rules that would help prevent excessive contingency fees by linking fees to risk, and by informing clients of their right to choose other fee options, such as hourly or flat fees, and to negotiate the level of a contingency fee.
- The Continuing Assault on the Citadel of Fiduciary Protection: Ethics 2000’s Revision of Model Rule 1.5 (2003 U.Ill.L.Rev. 1181 [Number 5]) A summary of this important article can be found in our posting here.
FTC and class action fees In a Washington Post article (9/30/02), staff writer Caroline Mayer describes steps taken by the FTC to keep class action fees in line with the risk taken by the lawyers involved.
Florida Bar Continency Fee Rules Through Rule 4-1.5 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, clients entering into contingency fee arrangements have greater protection than in any other state, including a Statement of Client’s Rights for Contingency Fees (stating, among other things, that there is no set percentage fee and that the client has the right to negotiate the fee level), a 3-day “cooling off” period to reconsider after signing an agreement, and step-down maximum fee levels as the amount awarded increases.
Sue City: The Case Against the Contingency Fee (Policy Review, Winter 1991) . This article by Walter Olson is excerpted from “The Litigation Explosion: What Happened When America Unleashed the Lawsuit,” with some new material added.
Pricey Contingency Fees : In this June 2000 article from Prairielaw.com, David Giacalone, ethicalEsq‘s Editor, shows (quite persuasively) how the use of a “standard” contingency fee violates existing codes of ethics and ethical opinions, while enriching lawyers at the expense of their clients.
Common Good: Early-Offer Settlement Proposal In May 2003, a national coalition led by Common Good filed legal petitions in 13 states proposing to change the rules governing the contingency fees charged by lawyers in “early offer” settlements in personal injury cases. In addition to reducing the fees received by lawyers in these situations, Common Good believes the proposed change would reduce court congestion, and increase the incentive to settle rather than litigate certain liability claims. “Most importantly, the change will increase the settlement proceeds going directly to accident victims.” See our posting “P/I Lawyers v. Common Good” (May 30, 2003)
The ABA and the Standard Contingency Fee: Protecting Fees Rather than Injured Clients. In this Open Letter to the FTC on the ABA and Contingency Fees (dated April 11, 2002, and published at HALT), your Editor, David Giacalone, details bar association actions to prevent competition over personal injury fees, by removing existing (although ignored) ethical restrictions on the use of the “standard contingency fee.”