California Bar Journal
OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1999
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California Bar Journal

The State Bar of California


REGULARS

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Front Page - October 1999
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News
Johnson confirmed for second term as bar's top prosecutor
Courts serve up mixed rulings on State Bar
Ethics association elects Karpman president
Six new governors join bar board
New group targets health care fraud
Public law section creates online library of public law links
JoAnne Spears honored
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Trials Digest
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Opinion
Slaying an imaginary dragon
The perfect ending: Results
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From the President - This bar year ends on a high note
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Letters to the Editor
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Public Comment
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Legal Tech - Tips for network administrators
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New Products & Services
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1999 Honors
State Bar cites pro bono service
Young lawyers salute San Diego sole practitioner for outstanding service
State Bar hails 'lawyer's lawyer'
Aided by attorney, parolee cited, hired
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MCLE Self-Study
The Rigors of Fee Agreements
Self-Assessment Test
MCLE Calendar of Events
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Discipline
Ethics Byte - Before you sue for fees, think again
Woman who impersonated husband ordered reinstated
Attorney Discipline

MCLE SELF-STUDY

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Self-Assessment Test
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Answer the following questions after reading the MCLE article on fee agreements. Use the answer form provided to send the test, along with a $20 processing fee, to the State Bar. Please allow at least eight weeks for MCLE certificates to reach you in the mail.

1. Generally, when an attorney represents a client on a contingency basis, the fee agreement must be reduced to writing and must be signed by both the attorney and client.

2. Pursuant to Business & Professions Code 6147, an attorney must provide the original written contingency fee agreement to the client, but may keep a copy for himself or herself.

3. A written contingency fee agreement must set forth the contingency rate that the attorney will charge the client.

4. A written contingency fee agreement must include a statement that costs applying to the representation are not set by law but are negotiable between attorney and client.

5. A written contingency fee agreement need not address to what extent the client could be required to pay any compensation to the attorney for related matters that arise out of their relationship that are not covered by their contingency fee contract.

6. Contingency fee agreements covering the recovery of workers' compensation benefits must comply with Business & Professions Code 6147 written contingency fee agreement requirements.

7. Generally, in non-contingency representations where it is reasonably foreseeable that the total expense to the client, including attorney fees, will exceed $1,000, the attorney-client fee agreement must be in writing.

8. In non-contingency representations, where a written fee agreement is required, the attorney may wait to provide a copy of the written fee agreement to the client until the attorney bills the client.

9. In non-contingency representations, where a written fee agreement is required, the agreement must describe the general nature of the legal services to be provided to the client and the respective responsibilities of the attorney and the client to the representation.

10. The requirements of Business and Professions Code 6148 do not apply if the client is a corporation.

11. The requirements of Business & Professions Code 6148 apply even where the client states in writing, after full disclosure of this section, that a writing concerning fees is not required.

12. The requirements of Business & Professions Code 6148 do not apply where legal services are rendered in an emergency situation.

13. Currently, under Business & Professions Code 6147 and 6148, an attorney must disclose to the client in the written fee agreement whether the attorney maintains errors and omissions insurance.

14. Failure to comply with the written fee agreement requirements under 6147 or 6148 renders the fee agreement void and the attorney thereafter will be entitled only to the reasonable value of his or her services. (Bus. & Prof. Code 6147(b), 6148(c).)

15. Even where an attorney has met all statutory written fee agreement requirements, the attorney may still not be entitled to collect the contracted fee because the fee is either illegal or unconscionable.

16. There are no maximum fee limits in California regarding contingency fee rates or representations.

17. California Rule of Professional Conduct 4-200 prohibits an attorney from collecting an illegal or unconscionable fee, but does not address whether the attorney can enter into a fee agreement that calls for or produces an unconscionable fee.

18. Under Rule 4-200, the unconscionability of a fee is determined on the basis of the facts and circumstances existing at the time the agreement is entered into, except where the parties contemplate that the fee will be affected by later events.

19. California Rule of Professional Conduct 4-200 sets forth 11 factors that are the only factors which may be considered in determining whether a particular fee is unconscionable.

20. One of the 11 factors set forth in Rule 4-200 is the financial ability of the client.

CERTIFICATION

This activity has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of California in the amount of 1 hour, of which 1 hour will apply to legal ethics.

The State Bar of California certifies that this activity conforms to the standards for approved education activities prescribed by the rules and regulations of the State Bar of California governing minimum continuing legal education.