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Abstract

The rules of professional conduct in most states require attorneys to enter into written agreements with their clients when contracting on a contingent fee basis.2 In so doing, the parties define the existence and limits of their attorney-client relationship. In the present case, an attorney and his client agreed to a ten percent contingent fee; however, the lawyer transferred to a new firm prior to the conclusion of the case.4 Subsequently, the client signed a new, identical agreement provided by the attorney's new firm.5 In the contract, the attorney used the previously agreed-upon fee percentage instead of the standard office rate used by the attorney's new firm.6 After the case settled, the senior partner in the attorney's new firm withheld the settlement from the client and brought suit demanding a larger contingent fee.7 The trial court, relying on a state statute allowing contract disputes of under $15,000 to be referred to a fact-finder, did just that.8

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