Friday, April 3, 2009

Not Lawyer Or Broker

An attorney admitted in Nebraska and South Carolina was contacted by the attorney of a person who wished to sell real estate in Costa Rica. The seller agreed to pay a 4% finder's fee to the attorney if he was able to find a purchaser. The attorney (named Wiseman) introduced the seller to one of his clients, who eventually made the purchase. The attorney did nothing to facilitate the transaction other than a single phone call. When the seller died, the attorney sought payment of the 4% from his estate.

The Nebraska Supreme Court held that the attorney was not entitled to any fee for legal services to the seller as his claim that he had represented the seller "is not supported by the record." Further, the attorney did not have a real estate license and was precluded by statute from payment for services performed as a real estate broker. (Mike Frisch)

Economics | Permalink

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I am starting to sound like Jeff here, but you say the seller promised to pay a 4% finders fee. The lawyer found a buyer. The deal was a success. Whether as a lawyer or not, why should not the estate get the fee? And as to whether there was a representation, I wonder if even with one phone call, something had gone wrong, would the court deny he could be sued for malpractice? Or the matter could not be treated as a bar discipline matter related to the practice of law? I understand that the definition of whether there is an attorney-client relationship is fluid and context-dependent, but there ought to be some larger consistency there, such as if you take on the risks and obligations from a client, you are entitled to the reasonably agreed upon rewards. Or put another way, clients have duties too. --ALAN

Posted by: Legal Profession Prof | Apr 3, 2009 8:35:14 AM

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