How do you know if your fee is too high?

The press will fixate on this lawyer’s hourly billing rate. But, that is not why he was disbarred. Rather, he was disbarred because of his wild and bizarre conduct.

There is no prohibition to charging a high hourly rate so long as at least 3 factors co-exist: 1.) The client receives value commensurate with the charge; 2.) The client perceives he/she has received value commensurate with the fee; and 3) There is sufficient communication between the lawyer and the client to confirm that the client understands what the charges will be … and the client is sophisticated enough to accept or reject the engagement agreement and fee being proposed.

The difficulty with fee disputes is that they are always "Monday morning quarterbacking," usually being determined by people who are using outdated standards of evaluation. The only real issues are 1) Did the client understand the fee structure and 2) Did the client receive sufficient value (not time) to justify the fee.

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