Excessive Legal Fees

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What Is an Excessive Legal Fee?

Whether a legal fee is excessive will generally depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. Under the American Bar Association's (ABA) Model Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer may not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.  

Generally this means that a fee is reasonable unless it is clearly excessive. However, the ABA Rules are merely illustrative and are not binding. Each state has adopted their own set of rules (usually modeled on the ABA) for when a legal fee is excessive. For example:

What Are Some Factors in Determining the Reasonableness of a Legal Fee?

To make a determination of whether a legal fee is excessive, there are a number of factors that should be considered, including: 

The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses should be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after the representation has begun. If the client is regularly represented by the lawyer on the same basis or rate, the lawyer need only communicate any changes in the basis or rate of the fee. In some states, when the parties have a written contract in which the fees and costs are clearly established, the fees and costs charged thereunder shall be presumed reasonable.

What Can I Do If My Legal Fees Seem Excessive?

If you feel that your attorney has charged you an excessive fee for your legal services, you may want to contact an experienced malpractice attorney who can help you to recover the unreasonable cost.

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Last Modified: 03-13-2014 11:41 AM PDT

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