Friday, November 8, 2013

One Retainer Covered Two Representations

A single retainer agreement sufficed to cover a second matter and entitled counsel to legal fees, according to a decision of the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department:

The record establishes plaintiff's entitlement to recover the unpaid legal fees that arose from its representation of defendants in two underlying actions. Contrary to defendants' contention, the subject retainer agreement governs plaintiff's work on both underlying matters. In compliance with 22 NYCRR 1215.1, which mandates that retainer agreements contain an "explanation of the scope of the legal services to be provided" (22 NYCRR 1215.1[b][1]), the agreement specifies that plaintiff's services "will include legal representation and advice with respect to specific matters that you refer to the Firm." Although defendants initially sought plaintiff to represent them in only one of the underlying actions, it is undisputed that they requested plaintiff's services with respect to the other action, shortly thereafter. Plaintiff's representation of defendants in the latter matter therefore falls within the ambit of the retainer.

The client did not challenge the invoices when rendered and could thus not attack the reasonableness of the fees. (Mike Frisch)

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