These summaries were prepared by McGuireWoods LLP lawyer Thomas E. Spahn. They are based on the letter opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar. Any editorial comments reflect Mr. Spahn's current personal views, and not the opinions of the Virginia State Bar, McGuireWoods or its clients. 
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8-Bills and Fees

A fee agreement under which a client must pay an additional $500 if the lawyer must institute collection proceedings to recover an unpaid fee would be unethical, because such an automatic collection fee could exceed the unpaid balance. A fee agreement is not like a normal contract, and even an agreed-upon term can violate the Code. A fee's reasonableness is not judged solely at the time of the agreement, because "the occurrence of events not contemplated by the parties at the outset of the representation may also be relevant to the reasonableness of the fee." It would not be improper to include in the fee agreement a provision for the recovery of reasonable attorneys' fees if the lawyer must sue to collect an unpaid fee.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn