California State Bar Sample Fee Agreements

Here is a direct link to the California State Bar website, which includes word and pdf versions of the instruction and all the forms here on the State Bar website: www.calbar.ca.gov/About-Us/Forms#samplefee Former Chairman of the State Bar`s Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration, Rae Lamothe helped overhaul the bar`s standard agreements. This was the first major revision of the forms since their inception in 1987. Lamothe, who founded his own company last month, now uses the new forms in his practice. Recently, she discussed with the Bar Journal the changes to the forms and the benefits of using them. I am very pleased to inform you that, on July 29, 2015, after much hard work by the California State Bar`s Committee on Mandatory Fee Arbitration, the Board of Trustees has granted final approval of revised and updated standard agreements for hourly fee issues (both litigation and non-procedural matters), as well as optional clauses for California lawyers, which must be taken into account when developing their legal fee agreements. I am particularly proud of the addition of an optional #14 clause that responds to the customer`s consent to the use of e-mails for data communication and storage by cloud services. I encourage all lawyers who have not included such a clause in their new fee agreements to consider it in light of today`s technological issues. The first important point for lawyers who accept the lump sum fees under the new rules of professional conduct is that the lump sum agreements should be made in writing, regardless of the amount of the flat fee, since the lawyer must state in writing that the client could require that the lump sum be paid into a CTA and that the client is entitled to a refund of a portion of the lump sum that has not been earned. The lawyer must make these written disclosures for each lump sum agreement, so that the lawyer back up a written agreement in order to deposit the lump sum fees into the lawyer`s operating account for all lump sum cases if the lawyer intends to use the operating account. Standard agreement forms include three types of agreements: (1) pricing agreements per hour for litigation; (2) non-litigation agreements per hour; and (3) contingency royalty agreements. In addition, these documents contain an instruction and commentary document outlining the purpose and limitations of standard royalty agreements, as well as a set of optional publication clauses and forms that may relate to a particular commitment.

The “CMFA” has developed a model royalty agreement (“SFA”) to help lawyers develop their own agreements. The forms are published on the website of the state bar and cover (1) disputes every hour, (2) non-procedural cases and (3) event cases. The committee has also developed (4) optional instructions and (5) advertising clauses and forms that may be useful to lawyers in representing clients. These forms are not binding on the State Bar of California, the Board of Trustees or the persons or tribunals responsible for regulatory responsibilities, or for a member of the State Bar of California. Unlike what I did when I opened my office 20 years ago, which asked a group of friends to get their detention and cutting and insertion contracts, it provided a model that could be perfectly and quickly adapted. The current law and the types of situations that we have often seen in arbitration proceedings, mainly retainers that were written in legalis and clients had no idea what they were signing or did not understand the practicality of it.