Legal Ethics – two little words that make the hairs on every attorney’s neck stand up. What does ethics mean to you – is it just another required MCLE course?
There is obviously a reason why legal ethics is mandatory in almost every state. Knowing your ethical obligations and acting responsibly will ensure that you get to keep that law license you worked so hard for.
ttorney’s fees and fee agreements, we have been lucky enough to work with renowned attorney James E. King of the King Law firm. Mr. King has put together an excellent two-hour course on fees and fee agreements. In the course Mr. King discusses case law, advisory opinions, and Model Rules to detail both the ethics and reasonableness of attorney fees.
Here is my favorite quote from the course:
“If one pays peanuts, one only expects to hire monkeys.”
The fee agreement ensures that you get paid and a well-written fee agreement means that you get to keep the fees that you have earned – provided that they are ‘reasonable.’ It may also prevent action from the State Bar or a malpractice proceeding. In addition to ensuring that you get paid, the fee arrangement also serves as the roadmap of the relationship between the attorney and the client. And it protects you because it is the contractual agreement between the attorney and client and it
memorializes the terms of the agreement.
I will leave you with one last quote from Abraham Lincoln (compliments of Mr. King) that comes from a speech he gave to a group of young lawyers in Illinois over a century ago:
“A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade.”
The course can be found here: Fee Agreements: Ethics & Reasonableness
 Mr. King is the founder of the King Law Corporation in San Diego and specializes in attorney fee disputes, legal ethics, and advises corporate counsel and law firms on litigation costs. Mr. King has testified as an expert witness on numerous attorney-client fee disputes and has represented prominent clients such as Heisman Trophy winner Rashan Salaam, Prince Fahd Aziz of Saudi Arabia, and attorney Robert Shapiro. Mr. King serves as a Special Master for the State Bar of California and is Vice-Chair of the Fee Arbitration Committee for the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. King also lectures and publishes works on the ethics and reasonableness of attorney fee ethics and other legal ethics topics.
 As soon as an attorney files a claim for unpaid bills from the client, the client usually turns around and files a malpractice suit and seeks to have the lawyer’s fees reduced. Without a solid fee arrangement, an attorney may have his or her bills reduced by 25% or disgorged completely if there have been egregious ethical slip-ups.
 It sets the boundaries for the entire attorney-client relationship. Don’t like answering phone calls? If you charge the client for excessive calls, they will be less likely to call you every 5 minutes for updates on the case. Have a problem terminating clients? Make sure to include a clause that makes them pay for any extra copying of papers or files at the termination of the representation.