November 29, 2011
Too Late To Mitigate
An attorney was retained and paid a $10,000 non-refundable retainer for a criminal case. A few days later, the client committed suicide. At the time, the attorney had done no more than five hours of work on the case.
The client's widow sought a refund. The attorney refused, "asserting that he had earned the entire amount." The attorney refunded the fee during the ensuing disciplinary proceeding.
The Indiana Supreme Court ordered a suspension of 30 days for charging an excessive fee and failure to return an unearned fee. The court found that restitution after a grievance is filed "does not qualify as a mitigating circumstance." (Mike Frisch)
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