February 05, 2014 Articles

Ethical Fee Collection from a Former Client: Bringing Out the Big Guns

What to do after the love is gone.

By John Martin and Kathryn Heinrichs

You have arrived at the end of the road with your client. The payments promised for months haven’t materialized. After repeatedly advising your client that you could not continue your representation unless progress was made, you’ve finally received permission from the court to withdraw. You applied the retainer you were careful enough to demand at the outset of the representation to your outstanding invoices (in accordance with your engagement agreement), but are still left with a balance that is more than you (or your partners) are comfortable writing off, particularly given the excellent service you provided. While you’re mindful of the substantial risk of a malpractice suit should you actually sue your client, you’d like to take some further action to collect the amount that is due you. As an ethical lawyer, what are your options?

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