July 16, 2008
A Massachusetts attorney was subject to an agreed-upon public reprimand for charging a clearly excessive fee in a divorce matter. Initially, the matter appeared to be uncontested and the client was charged a $2,500 non-refundable flat fee. When it appeared that it would become contested, the attorney advised the client that he would handle the matter for a $12,500 flat fee. The client paid the full amount.
Shortly thereafter, it became clear that the case would proceed on an uncontested basis. The client hired new counsel and sought an accounting and refund. The lawyer responded with an additional bill of over $4,000, charging $300 per hour for simple administrative tasks. He also did not provide the client file to new counsel, violating ethical rules governing withdrawal from representation. (Mike Frisch)
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