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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LEO NumTopicsSummary

8-Bills and Fees

22-Interviews with Prospective Clients

Unless the defendant consents, a lawyer may not represent a plaintiff in a personal injury action when the defendant had earlier consulted with the lawyer's partner about a possible representation, even if the firm was never retained, no fees were charged and the partner remembers nothing about the substance of the consultation. Relying on LEO 186-B, the Bar reiterated its opposition to imposition of an automatic finance charge on unpaid bills. Such finance charges are permissible "if the client has agreed to the amount of the attorney's fee, is able to pay, but desires payment be deferred for his convenience," and if the client "agrees to the terms [of the finance charges], retains the right to prepayment without penalty, and is not accessed [sic] a finance charge on fees prior to the time that the fees are earned by the attorney."

Copyright 2000, Thomas E. Spahn