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Fee Agreement Forms Manual

This is the best book available on fee agreements. It helps you prepare those all-essential fee agreements for new and returning clients, and it contains all the clauses you might need for a valid, enforceable fee agreement.

This is the best book available on fee agreements. It helps you prepare those all-essential fee agreements for new and returning clients, and it contains all the clauses you might need for a valid, enforceable fee agreement.

  • Discusses ethical issues, including liability insurance disclosure requirements
  • Specifies legal requirements, including relevant statutes and Rules of Court
  • Identifies potential client taxation issues
  • Provides sample forms with commentary for all practice areas
  • Provisions for fixed, hourly & contingency fee agreements, as well as limited scope representation
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This is the best book available on fee agreements. It helps you prepare those all-essential fee agreements for new and returning clients, and it contains all the clauses you might need for a valid, enforceable fee agreement.

  • Discusses ethical issues, including liability insurance disclosure requirements
  • Specifies legal requirements, including relevant statutes and Rules of Court
  • Identifies potential client taxation issues
  • Provides sample forms with commentary for all practice areas
  • Provisions for fixed, hourly & contingency fee agreements, as well as limited scope representation

1

Fee Agreement—Sample Provisions and Commentary

  • I. SCOPE OF THIS BOOK §1.1
  • II. SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER §1.2
  • III. BASIC CONSIDERATIONS
    • A. Fee Agreements Are Contracts §1.3
    • B. Different Types of Fee Agreements: Traditional and Alternative Models §1.4
    • C. Fee Agreements Are Subject to Statutory Requirements
      • 1. Contingent Fee Agreements §1.5
      • 2. Noncontingent Fee Agreements §1.6
      • 3. Some Fees Are Set by Statute §1.7
      • 4. Fees May Be Subject to Court Approval §1.8
    • D. Fee Agreements Are Subject to Ethical Requirements §1.9
      • 1. No Unconscionable or Illegal Fee §1.10
      • 2. Fee Negotiations Generally at Arm's Length §1.11
      • 3. Acquiring Ownership or Other Pecuniary Interest Adverse to Client §1.12
    • E. All Fee Agreements Should Be in Writing
      • 1. Risks of Unwritten Agreement §1.13
      • 2. Benefits of Written Agreement §1.14
  • IV. SAMPLE PROVISIONS AND COMMENTARY
    • A. Form: Identification of Parties §1.15
    • B. Form: Payment of Attorney Fees by Third Party in Noncontingent Fee Matter §1.16
    • C. Form: Retention of Law Firm Rather Than Particular Attorney §1.17
    • D. Form: Delegation of Attorney Services §1.18
    • E. Form: Authorized Representative of Client §1.19
    • F. Form: Legal Services to Be Provided §1.20
    • G. Form: Legal Services Specifically Excluded §1.21
    • H. Form: Responsibilities of Attorney and Client §1.22
    • I. Attorney Fees
      • 1. Form: Hourly Fee §1.23
      • 2. Form: Additional Fee Based on Results §1.24
      • 3. Form: Fixed Fee §1.25
      • 4. Form: Contingent Fee §1.26
      • 5. Form: Sample Hybrid Fixed and Contigency Fee Arrangement Letter §1.26A
      • 6. Form: Division of Attorney Fees §1.27
    • J. Costs
      • 1. Form: When Agreement Provides Hourly or Fixed Fee §1.28
      • 2. Form: When Agreement Provides Contingent Fee §1.29
    • K. Deposit
      • 1. Form: Deposit for Fees and/or Costs §1.30
      • 2. Form: Additional Deposits §1.31
      • 3. Form: Retainer Provision §1.32
    • L. Form: Statements and Payments §1.33
    • M. Form: Multiple Clients: Confidentiality and Conflict §1.34
    • N. Form: Representation of Adverse Interests §1.35
    • O. Form: Payment of Attorney Fees Under Fee-Shifting Statute, Agreement, or Court Order §1.36
    • P. Form: Settlement §1.37
    • Q. Form: Attorney's Lien §1.38
    • R. Form: Discharge of Attorney §1.39
    • S. Form: Withdrawal of Attorney §1.40
    • T. Form: Release, Retention, and Disposition of Client's Papers and Property §1.41
    • U. Form: Disclaimer of Guaranty §1.42
    • V. Form: Entire Agreement §1.43
    • W. Form: Severability in Event of Partial Invalidity §1.44
    • X. Form: Modification by Subsequent Agreement §1.45
    • Y. Arbitration
      • 1. Form: Client May Elect Fee Arbitration §1.46
      • 2. Form: Mandatory Nonbinding Fee Arbitration Through State or Local Bar §1.47
      • 3. Form: Agreement to Arbitrate Malpractice Dispute §1.48
      • 4. Form: Agreement to Arbitrate All Disputes (Including Fee and Malpractice Disputes) §1.49
      • 5. Form: Agreement to Mediate Dispute §1.50
    • Z. Form: Attorney Fees and Costs in Action on Agreement §1.51
    • AA. Form: Professional Liability Insurance Disclosure §1.51A
    • BB. Form: Governing Law §1.52
    • CC. Form: Effective Date of Agreement §1.53
    • DD. Form: Signatures and Dates §1.54

2

Business Law—Sample Fee Agreements and Conflicts Letter

  • I. Scope of Chapter §2.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT FOR CORPORATE LEGAL SERVICES §2.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT FOR FORMING A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY CORPORATION §2.3
  • IV. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT FOR FORMING A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION §2.4
  • V. FORM: SAMPLE CONFLICTS LETTER AND WRITTEN CONSENT §2.5

3

Civil Litigation—Sample Fee Agreement and Consent to Fee-Splitting

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §3.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT BASED ON HOURLY RATE FOR CIVIL LITIGATION §3.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE DISCLOSURE AND CONSENT ON FEE-SPLITTING §3.3

4

Consumer Chapter 7 Bankruptcy—Sample Fee Agreement with Exhibits

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §4.1
  • II. CONSUMER CHAPTER 7 BANKRUPTCY
    • A. Form: Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case §4.2
    • B. Form: Exhibit A to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case §4.3
    • C. Form: Exhibit B to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case §4.4
    • D. Form: Exhibit C to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case §4.5

5

Criminal Defense—Sample Fee Agreement and Substitution of Counsel Letter

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §5.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE CRIMINAL DEFENSE Legal Fee Agreement §5.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE LETTER NOTIFYING DEFENSE COUNSEL OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL AND AUTHORIZING RELEASE OF INFORMATION §5.3

6

Debt Collection—Sample Fee Agreements

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §6.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE DEBT COLLECTION CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT WITH NONCONTINGENT RETAINER §6.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE DEBT COLLECTION HOURLY FEE AGREEMENT §6.3

7

Elder Law Litigation—Sample Fee Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §7.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT FOR LITIGATION AGAINST HEALTH CARE FACILITY §7.2

8

Estate Planning—Sample Fee Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §8.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE INITIAL FEE AGREEMENT FOR ESTATE PLAN FOR USE WITH MARRIED COUPLE §8.2

9

Limited Scope Representation—Sample Fee Agreements and Checklists

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §9.1
  • II. LIMITED SCOPE REPRESENTATION
    • A. Dividing Tasks or Issues Between Attorney and Client §9.2
    • B. Recognizing Legal and Ethical Responsibilities §9.3
  • III. SAMPLE FORMS: FAMILY LAW MATTERS
    • A. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Single Consultation Agreement §9.4
    • B. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Consultation Agreement §9.5
    • C. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Ongoing Consultation Agreement §9.6
    • D. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Court Appearance §9.7
    • E. Form: Sample Change in Scope Letter §9.8
    • F. Checklist: Tasks to Be Apportioned (Use as Attachment to Limited Scope Fee Agreement) §9.9
    • G. Checklist: Issues to Be Apportioned (Use as Attachment to Limited Scope Fee Agreement) §9.10
  • IV. SAMPLE FORMS: GENERAL CIVIL MATTERS
    • A. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Single Consultation Agreement §9.11
    • B. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Consulting Services Agreement §9.12
    • C. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Ongoing Consulting Agreement §9.13
    • D. Form: Sample Fee Agreement—Limited Representation Including Court Appearance §9.14
    • E. Form: Sample Change in Scope Letter §9.15
    • F. Checklist: Tasks to Be Apportioned (Use as Attachment to Limited Scope Fee Agreement) §9.16
    • G. Checklist: Tickler (Keep on Top of File) §9.17

10

Marital Dissolution—Sample Fee Agreements

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §10.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE ATTORNEY FEE AGREEMENT—LETTER STYLE §10.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE FEE AGREEMENT FOR SERVICES WITH CLIENT ENGAGED IN MEDIATION OF DISSOLUTION ISSUES §10.3

11

Medical Malpractice—Sample Fee Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §11.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACTION §11.2

12

Personal Injury—Sample Fee Agreement and Health Care Provider Lien Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §12.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT §12.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE HEALTH CARE PROVIDER-PATIENT-ATTORNEY LIEN AGREEMENT §12.3

13

Probate—Sample Fee Agreements

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §13.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE PROBATE FEE AGREEMENT §13.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE VARIABLE CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT—WILL AND TRUST CONTEST §13.3

14

Unlawful Detainer—Sample Fee Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §14.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE UNLAWFUL DETAINER FEE AGREEMENT—PRIVATE PRACTITIONER §14.2

15

Wrongful Termination—Sample Fee Agreement

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §15.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE ATTORNEY FEE AGREEMENT §15.2

16

Completion of Representation Letter and Nonengagement Letter

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §16.1
  • II. FORM: SAMPLE COMPLETION OF REPRESENTATION LETTER §16.2
  • III. FORM: SAMPLE NONENGAGEMENT LETTER §16.3

17

Statutes and Rules

  • I. SCOPE OF CHAPTER §17.1
  • II. FEE AGREEMENTS STATUTES (Bus & P C §§6146–6149.5)
    • A. Bus & P C §6146 §17.2
    • B. Bus & P C §6147 §17.3
    • C. Bus & P C §6147.5 §17.4
    • D. Bus & P C §6148 §17.5
    • E. Bus & P C §6149 §17.6
    • F. Bus & P C §6149.5 §17.7
  • III. FEE ARBITRATION STATUTES (BUS & P C §§6200–6206)
    • A. Bus & P C §6200 §17.8
    • B. Bus & P C §6201 §17.9
    • C. Bus & P C §6202 §17.10
    • D. Bus & P C §6203 §17.11
    • E. Bus & P C §6204 §17.12
    • F. Bus & P C §6204.5 §17.13
    • G. Bus & P C §6206 §17.14
  • IV. SELECTED CALIFORNIA RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT
    • A. Rule 1.4. Communication With Clients §17.14A
    • B. Rule 1.4.1. Communication of Settlement Offers §17.15
    • C. Rule 1.4.2. Disclosure of Professional Liability Insurance §17.16
    • D. Rule 1.5. Fees for Legal Services §17.17
    • E. Rule 1.5.1. Fee Divisions Among Lawyers §17.18
    • F. Rule 1.7. Conflict of Interest: Current Clients §17.19
    • G. Rule 1.8.1. Business Transactions With a Client and Pecuniary Interests Adverse to the Client §17.20
    • H. Rule 1.8.5. Payment of Personal or Business Expenses Incurred by or for a Client §17.21
    • I. Rule 1.8.6. Compensation From One Other Than Client §17.22
    • J. Rule 1.8.8. Limiting Liability to Client §17.23
    • K. Rule 1.9. Duties to Former Clients §17.24
    • L. Rule 1.15. Safekeeping Funds and Property of Clients and Other Persons §17.25
    • M. Rule 1.16. Declining or Terminating Representation §17.26
    • N. Rule 5.4. Financial and Similar Arrangements With Nonlawyers §17.26A
  • V. SAMPLE FORMS AVAILABLE FROM THE STATE BAR §17.27

FEE AGREEMENT FORMS MANUAL

(2d ed Cal CEB 2007)

October 2019

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

File Name

Book Section

Title

CH01

Chapter 1

Fee Agreement—Sample Provisions And Commentary

01-015

§1.15

Identification of Parties

01-016

§1.16

Payment of Attorney Fees by Third Party in Noncontingent Fee Matter

01-017

§1.17

Retention of Law Firm Rather Than Particular Attorney

01-018

§1.18

Delegation of Attorney Services

01-019

§1.19

Authorized Representative of Client

01-020

§1.20

Legal Services to Be Provided

01-021

§1.21

Legal Services Specifically Excluded

01-022

§1.22

Responsibilities of Attorney and Client

01-023

§1.23

Hourly Fee

01-024

§1.24

Additional Fee Based on Results

01-025

§1.25

Fixed Fee

01-026

§1.26

Contingent Fee

01-027

§1.27

Division of Attorney Fees

01-028

§1.28

When Agreement Provides Hourly or Fixed Fee

01-029

§1.29

When Agreement Provides Contingent Fee

01-030

§1.30

Deposit for Fees and/or Costs

01-031

§1.31

Additional Deposits

01-032

§1.32

Retainer Provision

01-033

§1.33

Statements and Payments

01-034

§1.34

Multiple Clients: Confidentiality and Conflict

01-035

§1.35

Representation of Adverse Interests

01-036

§1.36

Payment of Attorney Fees Under Fee-Shifting Statute, Agreement, or Court Order

01-037

§1.37

Settlement

01-038

§1.38

Attorney’s Lien

01-039

§1.39

Discharge of Attorney

01-040

§1.40

Withdrawal of Attorney

01-041

§1.41

Release, Retention, and Disposition of Client’s Papers and Property

01-042

§1.42

Disclaimer of Guaranty

01-043

§1.43

Entire Agreement

01-044

§1.44

Severability in Event of Partial Invalidity

01-045

§1.45

Modification by Subsequent Agreement

01-046

§1.46

Client May Elect Fee Arbitration

01-047

§1.47

Mandatory Nonbinding Fee Arbitration Through State or Local Bar

01-048

§1.48

Agreement to Arbitrate Malpractice Dispute

01-049

§1.49

Agreement to Arbitrate All Disputes (Including Fee and Malpractice Disputes)

01-050

§1.50

Agreement to Mediate Dispute

01-051

§1.51

Attorney Fees and Costs in Action on Agreement

01-051A

§1.51A

Professional Liability Insurance Disclosure

01-052

§1.52

Governing Law

01-053

§1.53

Effective Date of Agreement

01-054

§1.54

Signatures and Dates

CH02

Chapter 2

Business Law—Sample Fee Agreements And Conflicts Letter

02-002

§2.2

Sample Fee Agreement for Corporate Legal Services

02-003

§2.3

Sample Fee Agreement for Forming a California Limited Liability Corporation

02-004

§2.4

Sample Fee Agreement for Forming a California Corporation

02-005

§2.5

Sample Conflicts Letter and Written Consent

CH03

Chapter 3

Civil Litigation—Sample Fee Agreement And Consent To Fee-Splitting

03-002

§3.2

Sample Fee Agreement Based on Hourly Rate for Civil Litigation

03-003

§3.3

Sample Disclosure and Consent on Fee-Splitting

CH04

Chapter 4

Consumer Chapter 7 Bankruptcy—Sample Fee Agreement With Exhibits

04-002

§4.2

Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

04-003

§4.3

Exhibit A to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

04-004

§4.4

Exhibit B to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

04-005

§4.5

Exhibit C to Sample Fee Agreement for Legal Services in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case

CH05

Chapter 5

Criminal Defense—Sample Fee Agreement And Substitution Of Counsel Letter

05-002

§5.2

Sample Criminal Defense Legal Fee Agreement

05-003

§5.3

Sample Letter Notifying Defense Counsel of Substitution of Counsel and Authorizing Release of Information

CH06

Chapter 6

Debt Collection—Sample Fee Agreements

06-002

§6.2

Sample Debt Collection Contingent Fee Agreement With Noncontingent Retainer

06-003

§6.3

Sample Debt Collection Hourly Fee Agreement

CH07

Chapter 7

Elder Law Litigation—Sample Fee Agreement

07-002

§7.2

Sample Fee Agreement for Litigation Against Health Care Facility

CH08

Chapter 8

Estate Planning—Sample Fee Agreement

08-002

§8.2

Sample Initial Fee Agreement for Estate Plan for Use with Married Couple

CH09

Chapter 9

Limited Scope Representation—Sample Fee Agreements And Checklists

09-004

§9.4

Sample Fee Agreement—Single Consultation Agreement

09-005

§9.5

Sample Fee Agreement—Consultation Agreement

09-006

§9.6

Sample Fee Agreement—Ongoing Consultation Agreement

09-007

§9.7

Sample Fee Agreement—Court Appearance

09-008

§9.8

Sample Change in Scope Letter

09-009

§9.9

Checklist: Tasks to Be Apportioned (Use as Attachment to Limited Scope Fee Agreement)

09-010

§9.10

Checklist: Issues to Be Apportioned (Use as Attachment to Limited Scope Fee Agreement)

09-014

§9.14

Sample Fee Agreement—Limited Representation Including Court Appearance

CH10

Chapter 10

Marital Dissolution—Sample Fee Agreements

10-002

§10.2

Sample Attorney Fee Agreement—Letter Style

10-003

§10.3

Sample Fee Agreement for Services with Client Engaged in Mediation of Dissolution Issues

10-004

§10.4

Sample Fee Agreement for Provision of Mediation Services

CH11

Chapter 11

Medical Malpractice—Sample Fee Agreement

11-002

§11.2

Sample Contingent Fee Agreement for Medical Malpractice Action

CH12

Chapter 12

Personal Injury—Sample Fee Agreement And Health Care Provider Lien Agreement

12-002

§12.2

Sample Contingent Fee Agreement

12-003

§12.3

Sample Health Care Provider-Patient-Attorney Lien Agreement

CH13

Chapter 13

Probate—Sample Fee Agreements

13-002

§13.2

Sample Probate Fee Agreement

13-003

§13.3

Sample Variable Contingent Fee Agreement—Will and Trust Contest

CH14

Chapter 14

Unlawful Detainer—Sample Fee Agreement

14-002

§14.2

Sample Unlawful Detainer Fee Agreement—Private Practitioner

CH15

Chapter 15

Wrongful Termination—Sample Fee Agreement

15-002

§15.2

Sample Attorney Fee Agreement

CH16

Chapter 16

Completion Of Representation Letter And Nonengagement Letter

16-002

§16.2

Sample Completion of Representation Letter

16-003

§16.3

Sample Nonengagement Letter

 

Selected Developments

October 2019 Update

We updated all citations and fee agreements in this book and added developments as relevant. The most important developments are:

New and Amended Rules of Professional Conduct. The new Rules of Professional Conduct became effective on November 1, 2018. In addition, in 2019, the Board of Trustees of the State Bar approved new sample fee agreement forms intended to assist attorneys in complying with the new rules. The contents of this publication have been updated to incorporate the new rules and forms.

Cybersecurity issues. As the duty of technological competence becomes more prominent, attorneys should consider adding language to fee agreements addressing secure communication and the risk of data breaches. See §1.14.

Clarification regarding a client's entitlement to refund of fixed fee amounts. Pursuant to Cal Rules of Prof Cond 1.15(b), a client has the right to require that the flat fee be deposited in an identified trust account until it is earned. See §1.25. For an updated discussion of refundable deposits and nonrefundable fees, see §1.30. For an updated discussion of flat fees in limited scope representation, see §9.3 and revised language for agreements at §9.7.

When a written fee agreement is not required. California Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15(b) and Bus & P C §6148 work together to allow oral agreements for flat fees under $1000. See §1.25.

Fee splitting. The client's consent must be obtained at the time the attorney has agreed to divide the fee or as soon thereafter as is reasonably practicable. Cal Rules of Prof Cond 1.5.1(a)(2). This is a change from the prior rule, which allowed the client to consent to the split at the time the fee was being divided (at the end of the case). See §1.27.

When a flat fee is earned. Comment 2 to Cal Rules of Prof Cond 1.15 provides that the attorney and client can agree as to when the flat fee is earned. It can be earned in stages throughout the representation. Fee agreements may be drafted to allow the attorney to withdraw funds as the fee is earned without separate client consent for each withdrawal. See §1.30.

New Mediation Agreement. A sample fee agreement for provision of family law mediation services by an attorney is now included. See §10.4.

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PRACTICE AREA Law Practice Skills
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PRACTICE AREA Civil Litigation & Torts