The Client-Lawyer Relationship Question and Answers

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The customary retainer agreement for attorneys in divorce proceedings calls for the payment of a fee equal to one-third of the alimony or property settlement the attorney successfully negotiates. Clients who object to this arrangement are not accepted as clients by the attorney. Is the retainer agreement used by the attorney appropriate?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
According to MR 1.5(c), a contingent fee compels the client to pay a fee (or bonus) only if the outcome is favorable. Except while defending a defendant in court or in domestic violence instances, a lawyer may accept a contingency fee [MR 1.5(d)].

The retainer agreement in this case for an attorney in a divorce case, a domestic relations matter, stipulates that payment is only due if the attorney is successful in obtaining alimony or property in a settlement. A contingent fee is a part of the agreement. The agreement stipulates that a charge of one-third, based on the amount of alimony or property settlement, shall be paid.

Attorney and Deft, the subject of a criminal proceeding, entered into a signed retainer agreement. Deft stipulated in writing that if Attorney was successful in keeping Deft out of jail, Deft would give Attorney title to Deft's car. The accusations against Deft were later dropped. Does Attorney face punishment for signing this retainer agreement?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
A lawyer cannot represent a defendant in a criminal matter on a contingent fee basis, according to MR 1.5(d)(2).

In this instance, the payment of a fee (the title to a car) by the defendant was dependent upon the outcome of the criminal case.

Attorney encountered a number of situations where clients didn't pay their fees on time, but it was too late to end the representation without harming the clients. Attorney has created a clause of consent to withdraw if fees are not paid in accordance with the fee agreement in order to prevent a repeat of this circumstance. She suggests having each client sign the clause at the beginning of the representation. Is it appropriate for the attorney to employ the clause that allows them to end a client's representation anytime they don't pay fees?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
According to MR 1.17(b), a lawyer may discontinue representing a client if: (1) withdrawal is possible without materially harming the client's interests; (2) the client continues to use the lawyer's services in a way that the lawyer reasonably believes is illegal or fraudulent; (3) the client has used the lawyer's services to commit a crime or commit fraud; and (4) the client insists on acting in a way that the lawyer finds objectionable or with improper motives. If a lawyer represents a client in pending litigation, the court will probably need to approve or give notice of the representation. If required to do so by a court, an attorney may still be required to represent a client even if there is a solid reason to end the representation [MR 1.16(c)].

It is improper for the attorney to use the stipulation in this case because, even if the client does not pay the fees when they are due, the court might not agree to the client's withdrawal if they do not have enough time to find another attorney while the case is still pending.

The lawyer wants to make it simpler for her clients to pay her fees. Which of the following best describes a lawyer? I. Take bank credit cards as payment for legal expenses. II. Make arrangements for clients to get bank loans so they can pay the attorneys' costs. 3. If a case is noteworthy, ask that the client provide the attorney the right to publish information about the case in exchange for a portion of the fee.

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
I and II are acceptable since a lawyer may charge a client's fee using a credit card or by securing a bank loan on their behalf. III is prohibited under MR 1.8(d), which states that a lawyer may not negotiate or acquire literary or media rights to a portrayal or account of a pending representation before the representation is over.

On a contingency fee basis, the attorney is defending Client, the plaintiff in a personal injury case. The client lacks the financial means to cover the costs of the investigation and the necessary medical tests to get ready for trial. Client requested that the attorney cover these costs. Attorney offered to guarantee Client's promissory note to a local bank in order to get the monies required to pay those expenditures but rejected to advance the funds. In the event that the attorney is held liable for the guaranty, the client has committed to pay the attorney back. If Attorney backs up the client's promissory note, would she face consequences?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
"A lawyer may charge a fee by credit card or by securing a bank loan on behalf of the Client. For a fee, the Attorney will accept an interest-bearing promissory note. With a contingent fee, the customer is only required to pay the charge (or bonus) if the conclusion is good [MR 1.5(c)]. Except while defending a defendant in court or in domestic violence instances, a lawyer may accept a contingency fee [MR 1.5(d)]. According to MR 1.8(e)(1), a lawyer may advance court costs and other litigation costs with the possibility that reimbursement will depend on how the case turns out. The lawyer is responsible for covering the charges and expenses if the Client loses the lawsuit.

In this instance, MR 1.5 permits the Attorney to take a contingent fee to represent the Client in a personal injury case (d). An attorney is not subject to discipline if she guarantees Client's promissory note; alternatively, Attorney may arrange for a bank loan to advance the costs for trial preparation."

Despite living next door to one another, the plaintiff and defendant are savage rivals. Plaintiff accuses the defendant of trespassing and is suing him. Each party sincerely believes that his perspective is the right one. Attorney Alpha represents the plaintiff, and Attorney Beta represents the defendant. Plaintiff informed Alpha that he had hired Alpha "I don't want you to give the defendant or his attorney any delays or courtesies. I want you to be picky about every little detail." Beta has received a demand from Alpha to respond to written questions. Due to his secretary's illness, Beta has requested from Alpha an additional five days to respond to his questions. If Alpha agrees to Beta's request for a five-day extension, would she face punishment?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
According to MR 1.2, CMT. [2], "The lawyer typically has the right to choose the technical and legal tactical methods by which the client's objectives will be pursued. However, the lawyer must engage with the client regarding the means. How an issue should be pursued are at the discretion of the attorney, who is not required to press for every benefit that might be achieved for a client [MR 1.3, CMT. [1]]. A lawyer's obligation to respond with reasonable promptness does not prevent them from granting a fair request for a delay as long as it won't harm their client [MR 1.3, CMT. [3]].

In this case, Alpha may extend the deadline out of an abundance of goodwill provided as it doesn't harm the Plaintiff's rights. Because Alpha has discretion over the methods to achieve Plaintiff's goals, Alpha does not have to insist on everything being done exactly as Plaintiff requested.

A seasoned oil and gas developer served as the client. Client requested legal counsel for assistance in a lawsuit to prove Client is the rightful owner of specific oil and gas royalties. Client lacked the resources required to cover the attorney's reasonable hourly fee for embarking on the case. Instead, the client suggested paying the attorney a sum equivalent to 20% of the total revenues from whatever first-year royalties the client would be entitled to as a consequence of the lawsuit in cash. The lawyer agreed to take the case and accepted the offering. Is Attorney liable for punishment?

Correct! Wrong!

Explanation:
With a contingent fee, the customer is only required to pay the charge (or bonus) if the conclusion is good [MR 1.5(c)]. Except while defending a defendant in court or in domestic violence instances, a lawyer may accept a contingency fee [MR 1.5(d)]. Here, the client offered to pay the attorney a sum in cash equivalent to 20% of the total revenues from any first-year royalties the client would be entitled to as a result of the lawsuit. According to MR 1.5, this was a contingent fee that the attorney might receive.

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