Abraham Lincoln Weighs in on Up-Front Fixed Fees

Abraham_LincolnAs noted in a recent post, the LSBA Rules of Professional Conduct Committee is evaluating a proposed amendment to Louisiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(f)(2). Under the current rule, a lawyer earns a fixed fee when the lawyer agrees to handle the client’s matter through completion. As a result, the rule permits the lawyer to deposit the fixed fee into the lawyer’s operating account upon receipt. The Committee is now considering a rule change to require a lawyer (1) to deposit a fixed fee into trust, and (2) to withdraw payments only as the lawyer’s work progresses or is completed. The post concluded with a suggestion that lawyers “speak up” and voice their opinions on this proposal.

This just in from Springfield:

As a general rule never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something, and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well.

See Abraham Lincoln’s Notes for a Law Lecture (1850). Well said. (HT to Lincoln aficionado E. Phelps Gay.)

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