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Court amends conduct rules relating to attorney fees Friday, July 1, 2022

The Supreme Court has amended the Rules of Professional Conduct to add clarifying language on fees. The amendments are effective July 1, 2022.

New subdivision (f) of Conduct Rule 1.5 states that a “lawyer may charge a flat, fixed fee or minimum fee for a particular representation with services to be rendered in the future.” Such a fee is considered “the lawyer’s property when paid and may be deposited in the lawyer’s operating account.”

Meanwhile, Rule 1.5’s new subdivision (g) provides that “[n]onrefundable fees and nonrefundable retainers are prohibited.” This subdivision also states that “[a]ny agreement that purports to restrict a client’s right to terminate the representation or that unreasonably restricts a client’s right to obtain a refund of unearned or unreasonable fees is prohibited.”

Consistent with the amendments to Rule 1.5, the court also made minor amendments to Conduct Rule 1.15 on safekeeping property.