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Is this a situation where you have no written agreement?
That may prove to be a little problematic for your lawyer.
S.C. Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(c) provides:
A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing signed by the client and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal; litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery; and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses the client will be expected to pay. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery, showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination
Thank you, just so you will know, I asked her up front about her fee, she said if we won, she would bill the losing side. During the case I asked her what I would owe her if we lost and she said 0 dollars. When the settlement was reached , I asked her at that time how much I owed her and she agreed to 60/40% split. Like I said , I was deeply affected when I got her bill. Do you think the SC Bar will rule in my favor, and shoud I pursue displairy actions against her?
Regardless of the how the fee is divided she most likely will have to respond to a bar compliant for failing to have a fee agreement.
What percentage is she charging you and how much is related to expenses, if you know?
I have paid all expenses, and as to the percentage, it appears to be about 110%. We only settled for 25,000 dollars and she is billing me 27,105 dollars.
Well unless she reduces her fee to something you find acceptable, the SC Bar seems to be where you are headed.
it is always a shame when a case is done and a client has to take action against a lawyer to recover their portion of the fee.
I have already filed with the SC Bar, I felt it was the only thing to do. Do you think they will rule fairly? I've never had to do any of this before , so I'm a little scared.
I would hope so.
Thank you so much for for advice and encouragement. I hope you have a great life.
That lawyer is going to have problems without a written and signed fee agreement.
That's what I thought.
has the lawyer represented you in the past?
Twice, with no problems, but she suffered a stroke about 6 months ago, I thought she was fine until we got to court.
A clerk at the Bar slipped up and referred to her as the nutty lawyer.
Were the terms of that agreement hourly?
Was the recent bill for at an hourly rate?
no, they were a percentage once, and a set amount for my divorce.
Recent bill was for an hourly rate
If she is charging you hourly then a different part of Rule 1.5 applies.
a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
(b) The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing..
The rule still strongly prefers that the fee arrangement be in writing.
That looks like I'll be ok, I didn't sign amything, and she never informed me of any change.
You do realize that you can have an attorney represent you in your fee dispute.
Yes, I do, but I don't know who to trust.
It's not necessary, but it may help. I can't help you with that. You can interview different lawyers. You will want to find one that sues attorneys and one that is shocked by what she did.
Ok, I will do so. I have told one attorney what she did and they were totally shocked.
Ask that lawyer who you should hire. You can check http://lawyers.com. Look for a lawyer that does "legal malpractice" or "legal ethics and professional responsibility"
ok, thank you for all your help.
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