New Advisory Opinion on a Lawyer’s Use of Percentage-Based Fees in Representing Succession Representatives

On August 25, 2021, the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee of the Louisiana State Bar Association published Public Opinion 21-RPCC-22 providing guidance on a lawyer’s use of a percentage-based fee in representing a succession representative. See LSBA Public Opinion 21-RPCC-22 (Aug. 25, 2021). Said the Committee:

It is not per se unethical for a lawyer representing a succession representative to charge a fee that is calculated with reference to a percentage (customarily, in the range of 2.5 to 3%) of the value of the estate. While not a “contingency” fee, this percentage method in succession matters constitutes a form of “fixed” fee that is permitted by the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct. As with all types of fees, however, the agreed-upon percentage shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, and the amount of the fee yielded by application of the percentage must be reasonable pursuant to the factors outlined in Rule 1.5(a). Succession lawyers who use the percentage method in their practices, therefore, should exercise care to ensure that this type of fee arrangement is appropriately within ethical boundaries based on considerations such as the estate’s value and the amount and complexity of the work necessary to complete the succession.

Id. at 1.

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