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

Lawyers and their clients can renegotiate fee agreements in the course of a representation, but "modifications of existing fee agreements are usually suspect because of the fiduciary nature of the client lawyer relationship." Any new fee arrangement must be reasonable. "An explanation of the lawyer's proposed modification of a fee arrangement, including the advice that the client need not agree to pay the modified fee to have the lawyer continue the representation, is necessary to enable the client to make an informed decision about the client's ability and willingness to pay the modified fee for continued representation." The client's consent to a new fee arrangement can be inferred in some situations, as with a lawyer's incremental increase in billing rates. Lawyers may not "unilaterally impose" a "success fee" premium, and must comply with contingent fee rules. Lawyers "seeking new or additional security for payment under an existing fee agreement" must comply with the rules governing lawyers doing business with their clients.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn