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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:
Any basis for compensation including hourly rates, statutory fees, flat fees, costs, etc.,
The general nature of the legal services to be provided, and
The respective responsibilities of the attorney and the client as to the performance of...