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RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 42158
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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Is it permissible attorney to take a 30 percent contingency

Customer Question

Is it permissible for an attorney to take a 30 percent contingency fee in a probate matter?
The jurisdiction is in North Dakota
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. I am Ray and will be the expert helping you today.

It is legal here for the lawyer to take such a contingency fee assuming he can justify it as reasonable.The client is free to seek a better or lower fee or an hourly one as an alternative.

Here are the rules for reference..

Rule 1.5 Fees

(a) A lawyer’s fee shall be reasonable. 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, if apparent to the client, 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) When the lawyer has not regularly represented the client, the basis, rate, or amount of the fee shall be communicated to the client before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.

(c) 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 writing 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. 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.

(d) A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:

(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or

(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.

(e) A division of fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:

(1) The division of fee is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or each lawyer, by written agreement, assumes joint responsibility for the representation;

(2) After consultation, the client does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved; and

(3) The total fee is reasonable.

(f) A lawyer may charge for work performed by a legal assistant.

(g) A lawyer may not split legal fees with a legal assistant nor pay a legal assistant for the referral of legal business. A lawyer may compensate a legal assistant based on the quantity and quality of the legal assistant’s work and value of that work to a law practice. The legal assistant’s compensation may not be contingent, by advance agreement, upon the outcome of a case or upon the profitability of the lawyer’s practice.

[Comment][Narrative][Other Jurisdictions]

It would be proper here under ND law as long as the fee is set out in writing and signed by both parties to reflect agreement.Again the client here can seek a cheaper or different fee from ano0ther probate lawyer.

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Please let me know if you have more follow up.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

North Dakota law allows for “reasonable” compensation to the personal representative and the attorney for services

provided.The court would have final say if this in fact reasonable.It would be possible to raise this issue in front of the probate judge.

The court would look at the size of estate, work by the lawyer here, difficulties involved, etc. to see if it was reasonable.

Court would also want to see the fee contract and whether the parties agreed to it and understood the fees.Court has to approve it or reject it here.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 2 years ago.

Thanks again, the court has final say on the probate fees here and the judge decides if this is reasonable here.