Court reprimands lawyer for unreasonable contingency fee

     Every person who wants to hire an attorney should know that the amount and method of the attorney’s payment is negotiable. But there are limits to what an attorney can charge.

     The American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct state that “A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.” State bar associations have adopted this restriction and Indiana’s version of the rule was recently addressed by its Supreme Court.

     On June 12, 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court assessed a public reprimand against an attorney for charging an unreasonable fee. The fee agreement at issue called for an hourly rate of $75 per hour plus 50% of the amount recovered. Interestingly, the Indiana Supreme Court did not actually rule that the fee agreement was unreasonable. It instead accepted the parties’ stipulation that making an agreement to charge a client a 50% contingency fee in addition to an hourly fee was a violation of Rule 1.5(a) of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct when it assessed the reprimand. 

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Joe - September 22, 2009 5:50 PM

Cite please?

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