Law Department Articles

Ethics Issues Arise Between the Law Firm and Its Client

Jim Roethe, former General Counsel at Bank of America and litigation partner with Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw Pitman, and I recently taped a CLE program entitled “Professional Relationship and Ethics.”  We discussed some ethical issues that may arise between the client and the law firm in billing, staffing, litigation discovery, lawyers’ financial interests and back-dating documents.  Below is a brief summary of our discussion.

Billing Rates

Many law firms have different hourly rates for different clients, and different rates for the same client depending upon whether the client is being reimbursed by a third party for the bill.  Although there is nothing inherently unethical about these different rates, ABA Model Rule 1.5 prohibits “unreasonable” fees, and outside counsel should be sure that clients understand the basis for the rate.

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