I was arguing that the word "commission" doesn't mean that the amount is based on a percentage of anything. I was using the term "commission" to mean "fee" (think Michelangelo being "commissioned" to paint the Sistine Chapel)
First, if the amount owed to the attorney is payable only if the firm collects, then is it a post-petition
asset? If the attorney couldn't sue the firm for the amount as of the petition date, how is it a prepetition asset or "liquidated debt owed the debtor."
Given the new facts, I guess the question is what is the relationship between the firm and the lawyer. Is he an employee, independent contractor or equity
owner? What is the document that governs how the amount is owed to the lawyer by the firm. It sounds like it would be a verbal agreement that the lawyer gets paid (with withholding) if the firm collects the funds.
The Trustee would argue that the fees are "earned" by the lawyer prepetition, but subject to a condition subsequent of the actual collection. That would make this a prepetition asset that is just not collectible until postpetition.
The Trustee is also going to argue that (1) "commission" means percentage of; (2) "personal service" doesn't mean lawyers; (3) the cap applies; (4) "commission" only means sales commissions; (5) the claim is just an account receivable under "liquidated debts owed to the debtor"; (6) the debtor's claim is just a claim for unpaid wages
or salaries; (7) etc.
If the Court rules that the fee is not exempt, the Trustee can collect the receivable from the firm directly (and maybe even from the client or Defendant) and use it to distribute to himself, his lawyer and creditors, as appropriate.