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