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Retainer Agreements

Beware the Mis-named Non-Refundable Retainer

September 24, 2007 by Carolyn Elefant

UPDATE – In December 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed this decision and held that the non-refundable retainer passed ethical muster because the agreement was unambiguous. See here . Thank goodness for lawyers who are willing to risk a disciplinary sanction to retain $2500 of money that any objective observer would recognize as unearned and […]

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Lawyers: Do You Eat Your Own Dogfood?

October 17, 2006 by Carolyn Elefant

My husband recently started a new position at a technology company that, like many others, eats its own dogfood, i.e., it uses the product that it makes.  For lawyers, our dogfood is our advice to our clients.  But how many lawyers “eat own dogfood” when we draft retainer agreements for our clients? This article, NY […]

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Declining Representation Without Peril

December 28, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

I’ve posted quite a bit on the importance of retainer letters, here and here, but not as much on a declination letter which informs prospective clients that you’ve declined to take their case.  This post from Day on Torts discusses the perils of misinforming clients about the applicable statute of limitations in a declination letter.  […]

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Ways to Make Sure You Get Paid

May 19, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

As this article, Getting Paid, Not Played (Meg Tebo, ABA Journal, 5/19/05) begins, “Getting stiffed is almost like a rite of passage of solo practice.”  This article offers a couple of ideas from practitioners to avoid this rite, such as customizing and revising a retainer agreement to facilitate client payments, giving upfront estimates and collecting […]

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And here’s yet another story,

April 1, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

And here’s yet another story, NY Firm, Attorney Fail to Execute Retainer , New York Lawyer (3/31/05) on the importance of a retainer agreement.  The article reports on a suit by law firm Fenderstock & Partners against its former client, attorney Stephen Shapiro to recover fees for services that Fenderstock provided, ironically, to defend Shapiro […]

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What NOT to Put In A Retainer Agreement

February 28, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

As we at MyShingle have said many times, a retainer agreement is one of the most important tools that we lawyers have to protect ourselves from unscrupulous or troublesome clients.  It should be obvious though that lawyers can’t use the retainer agreement to protect themselves by cutting off their clients’ rights to file a grievance.  […]

Read more Ethics & Malpractice Issues 6 comments

Lack of A Retainer Can Cost Lawyers’ Their Fee

February 15, 2005 by Carolyn Elefant

Next time you find yourself thinking about letting the retainer agreement requirement slide (“I trust the client,” or “There’s no time,” are some excuses that might run through your mind), think again.  Lack of a retainer agreement one can cost you your entire fee.  That’s what happened in the case desribed in this New York […]

Read more Ethics & Malpractice Issues 22 comments