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Written by Jill Jacobs

To begin creating your fee agreement, it helps to know first what MUST be in your agreement. For the most part, this will be dictated by statutes or regulations, and/or the rules of professional conduct in your state. Some case law or other resources such as sample agreements and practice guides may also be helpful. Since I practice law in California, I will highlight specific requirements that apply to California attorneys. But if you practice law outside of California and are creating an attorney fee agreement, I suggest you peruse your state Bar’s website to find form agreements and guidance, and also find the statutes and regulations, and/or rules of professional conduct that apply to the practice of law in your state to determine what you are required to include in your agreement.

What Must Be in Your California Attorney Non Contingent Fee Agreement

In California, California Business and Professions Code §§ 6146 - 6149.5 governs attorney fee agreements, and luckily, these are short and pretty clear laws. Section 6148 specifies what should be included in a non-contingent fee agreement, which is what transactional attorneys most often use.

Section 6148 also states that if it is reasonably foreseeable costs and fees will exceed $1000, the fee contract must be in writing, signed by both parties, and include:

  1. Any basis for compensation including hourly rates, statutory fees, flat fees, costs, etc.,

  2. The general nature of the legal services to be provided, and

  3. The respective responsibilities of the attorney and the client as to the performance of...

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(Photo Credit: Missouri-The Great Whiskey Ring Trial, shared by The Cornell University Library via Flickr)

Written by Will Pasley

I was not a happy camper in law school.  The teaching style was dry and confusing and during my first semester I found myself grasping in the darkness for an understanding of what the law actually is.  The rare moments of lecture I found useful were when the law was laid out in a straightforward fashion.  There were too few of those moments.  Now that I am a lawyer and free of law school, I have had the opportunity to look a little deeper into the law school industry. I have a bit more sympathy for those professors than I did while I was in law school.  They are stuck in a pedagogical quagmire.

When I had the opportunity to teach a series of classes for a group of apprentices, I realized I could teach the law the way I wish it had been taught to me… that is to say, straightforwardly.   It was harder than I thought it would be and I felt myself reverting to some of the teaching styles I suffered through in law school.  I have a love-hate relationship with the case method.  On the one hand, I HATED it in law school.  Often during my first year I felt lost and confused.  Professors asking questions of the student audience both paralyzed me with fear of being called on and made it difficult for me to follow how the law fit together.  Listening to a professor unsuccessfully fish for an answer for 10 minutes was incredibly boring and taught me nothing.  But, on the other hand, I LOVE learning concepts through use of examples.  It is hard for me to feel the flow of the law without seeing it applied.  Examples also make it easier for me to...

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Written by Hasmik Geghamyan

It is crucial to have proper designations when entering into an agreement with someone for their services. The Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement ("The Labor Board") frowns upon the misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor when the common law factors and/or Borello standard show that the employee was misclassified as an independent contractor. The principal-employer could be subject to many penalties, including withholding of wages, overtime and vacation pay, and a whopping penalty of up to $15,000 for intentional misclassification.

Despite the initial good intentions among the parties, misclassification can substantially impact the financial well-being and morale of the business. Here are some guideposts to follow if you plan to use the services of an independent contractor:

Establish an Objective Criteria

1.         Discuss the details of the services desired: Because a principal can control only the end result of an...

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Written by Sarah Kaplan

Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor, and I am not giving investment advice.  This is just shared legal research, not advice to anyone in particular.

Long-Term Capital is in IRAs.

Trillions of dollars are stored in IRAs in this country.1

What if you, I, and 300 of our closest friends invest just a portion of our IRAs in local businesses and housing? The possibilities for change are really huge. I could imagine REITs that provide affordable access for farmers. Start-up funding for worker co-ops. New grocery stores and jobs in your favorite local food desert.2

What All Resilient Economy Lawyers Should Know about Self-Directed IRAs:

An IRA is a tax-deferred investment.  Tax-free income compounds faster, so in the future, you will have more money.3

Business as Usual: Iris Investor’s IRA is held in trust for her by some large investment firm.  For example, Vanguard (an investor-owned company) offers IRAs.4  The money in these accounts is invested in “funds” that hold a long list...

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(Photo credit: Lori L. Stalteri via Flickr)

By Hasmik Geghamyan  

Imagine: A group of five neighbors decide to turn their backyard into a small organic vegetable garden and name it Perennial Veg Power. Sometimes they like to refer themselves as a “collective” or a “collaborative.” They primarily want to grow and share veggies together. Their association is informal. Though they have considered selling some of their excess veggies to their community, they have not figured out the details of that yet. They like the informality of their relationship and the potential business venture that it may offer. They do not intend to officially incorporate as a business entity (i.e. a partnership or a limited liability company).

Generally, when a group decides to perform some task together without filing any legal paperwork or establishing any formal legal structure, whether they know it or not, they have formed an unincorporated association. In California, unincorporated association is defined as an “unincorporated group of two or more persons joined by mutual consent for a common lawful purpose, whether organized for profit or not.” Corp Code §18035.

Unincorporated associations as well as nonprofit unincorporated associations are governed by Cal Corp. Code §§18000-24001....

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(Photo Credit: Gentlemen Protesting Segregated Bus Seating: Tallahasee, Florida, shared by the Florida Memory Project via Flickr)

Written by Will Pasley

I recently was part of a political march from LA to Sacramento.  The California March for Democracy walked 480 miles to bring attention to the corruption of money in politics, and I am proud to say I walked around 400 miles of that journey.  We walked in the heat of the early summer, late May and almost all of June for a total of 37 days on the march.  Once we got to Sacramento, our message was that we were not going anywhere until the legislature took a few symbolic steps to address the corruption of money in politics.  To bring home the point that we were not going anywhere, some individuals decided to risk arrest to try to stay in the Capitol overnight.  There was a total of 47 arrests over the course of two weeks and I was one of only two attorneys in the group.  Some of the individuals asked me questions, and I did a fair amount of counseling concerning civil disobedience.  I explained the possible consequences so that individuals knew what they were risking.  I legal observed the police while the police arrested them, and I was at the jail to pick them up when they were released.  I spent two weeks in a kind of haze of legal support work.  I was very happy that prior to the march I had done a bit of research into how to comply with professional ethics rules while counseling on civil disobedience.

In this post I am going to focus on some of the basics of how to counsel on civil disobedience without violating professional ethics rules and not how to risk arrest yourself without violating ethics rules.  ...

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