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

Clients and their lawyers can agree on a reasonable “conversion clause” indicating how the lawyer will be compensated if the client terminates a fixed fee agreement without cause (rather than relying just on a quantum meruit process that requires a terminated lawyer’s legal action against the former client). Unlike the scenario with “conversion clauses” in contingent fee arrangements, the fixed fee setting has no expected recovery, and a “conversion clause” cannot result in the lawyer receiving more than the fixed fee itself. As long as the arrangement is reasonable and fully explained to the client, such a “conversion clause” might use “benchmarks” based on the “amount of work” done at certain stages of a fixed fee representation.

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn