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  1. #1

    Default Can an Attorney Charge for Legal Research

    My question relates to legal practice in the state of: California

    I have an attorney who has been working for me on a straight contingency fee of 35%. He is doing quite well and I don't begrudge him that as I agreed to it. On documents he presented to the court in a petition to approve claim he is charging under additional items of expense parking fees, transportation, copying and legal research.

    The last one troubles me. Why would a lawyer charge for legal research is that not part and parcel of his profession and should be covered under the basic retainer agreement? There is nothing in the retainer agreement covering this topic. I was not informed of those charges and only saw this by acquiring a copy from the courthouse.

    Any input would be appreciated

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    19,132

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Lawyers charge for both their time and for any costs that they incur. Legal research involves not just digging through books these days but online through services that cost money. Most of these services provide a client/matter billing so it can get apportioned out.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,712

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Is he charging those fees to you or is he seeking reimbursement from the other party for those items? If he seeks Fees and costs from the opposing party, that could cause the items to be listed in a way that is not necessarily the same as you are charged.

    He can’t file for 35% of any award as his costs. He has to put numbers on everything.

    Not saying he isn’t going to charge them to you but you can’t make the determination by what you saw. What he can charge you is based on your retainer agreement.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Quote Quoting flyingron
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    Lawyers charge for both their time and for any costs that they incur. Legal research involves not just digging through books these days but online through services that cost money. Most of these services provide a client/matter billing so it can get apportioned out.
    He is trying to bill me for the expenses separate from the 35% he is making. Incidental stuff it appears except for this legal research. It was a settlement that is in the court..a minor compromise hearing. Meidcare gets paid first but the lawyer calculates his cut on the whole number before medicare deducts theirs so he will get more than the plantiff. The form I get the numbers from is the petition to approve compromise of disputed claim. It states who gets what and how much. it ultimately will require my signature so I got a copy myself to read it over. His personal declaration is quite long and reads like a resume with argument to justify the amount he is asking.
    The judge needs to approve it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    15,494

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Quote Quoting condenado
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    He is trying to bill me for the expenses separate from the 35% he is making. Incidental stuff it appears except for this legal research. It was a settlement that is in the court..a minor compromise hearing. Meidcare gets paid first but the lawyer calculates his cut on the whole number before medicare deducts theirs so he will get more than the plantiff. The form I get the numbers from is the petition to approve compromise of disputed claim. It states who gets what and how much. it ultimately will require my signature so I got a copy myself to read it over. His personal declaration is quite long and reads like a resume with argument to justify the amount he is asking.
    The judge needs to approve it.
    Did you sign a contract with the attorney? If so, you need to review that contract.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    38,712

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Quote Quoting condenado
    View Post
    He is trying to bill me for the expenses separate from the 35% he is making. Incidental stuff it appears except for this legal research. It was a settlement that is in the court..a minor compromise hearing. Meidcare gets paid first but the lawyer calculates his cut on the whole number before medicare deducts theirs so he will get more than the plantiff. The form I get the numbers from is the petition to approve compromise of disputed claim. It states who gets what and how much. it ultimately will require my signature so I got a copy myself to read it over. His personal declaration is quite long and reads like a resume with argument to justify the amount he is asking.
    The judge needs to approve it.
    As I wrote in my reply;

    he has to create a list of cost if he is seeking an award that covers costs, whther it be his time or actual expenditures. He can’t just write attorney’s fees: 35% of gross award. Costs: to be determdied

    he is effectively writing a bill as if he was working on an hourly basis.


    read your contract to see what you have contracted to pay him. Regardless of what he lists as costs seeking reimbursement from the other party, that is what and all he can charge you.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    As I wrote in my reply;

    he has to create a list of cost if he is seeking an award that covers costs, whther it be his time or actual expenditures. He can’t just write attorney’s fees: 35% of gross award. Costs: to be determdied

    he is effectively writing a bill as if he was working on an hourly basis.


    read your contract to see what you have contracted to pay him. Regardless of what he lists as costs seeking reimbursement from the other party, that is what and all he can charge you.
    The "retainer letter" says I am to pay him 35% straight contingency "as legal fees in this matter" and repay disbursements and costs. To me that says it should have a reciept to it.
    So somewhere in the court documents I should see the actual reciept for the item be it parking, legal research or whatever? It may be there it was a huge file and I had limited time. I copied the narratives and left the exhibits undone. Might be a trip back next week. My issue is mostly with the legal research I need to know what thats about.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    If he's charging for his time performing legal research on top of the contingency fee, that is inappropriate.

    If he's charging for the cost of a legal research service that he used to perform research for your case, but not for the time, then that may be a valid cost for him to charge under the retainer agreement. It could also make a difference if he's using a flat fee service or is using a service on a pay-per-use basis, as the former might be properly deemed part of his office overhead.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
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    If he's charging for his time performing legal research on top of the contingency fee, that is inappropriate.

    If he's charging for the cost of a legal research service that he used to perform research for your case, but not for the time, then that may be a valid cost for him to charge under the retainer agreement. It could also make a difference if he's using a flat fee service or is using a service on a pay-per-use basis, as the former might be properly deemed part of his office overhead.
    Thats how I see it too. Need more info there may be a justification. At this point Im speculating and the attorney wont respond to my emails for clarification of his costs.
    This seems to be a hearing between the lawyer and court with myself on the sidelines but I do see a line for my signature approving whatever they decide. So at some point some explaining will need to be done if I am to sign off on this.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,040

    Default Re: Retianer Ageement and Attorney Expenses

    Well, if you are going to be present at the hearing, speak up and ask for justification of the charges.

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