The fact is, no matter how complicated a case, clients will consider an attorney’s fees to be too high. (This helps account for why we lawyers are the butts of so many jokes.) The majority of people in Texas don’t understand all of the costs, skills, or time investments that go into being a practicing attorney—and which you are entitled for them to reimburse you for. Most of the time, this just results in biting humor or grousing. But from time to time, someone will file a formal complaint that alleges an attorney’s fees are unreasonable. And when they do, it may put your license to practice law at risk.
An attorney should always be willing to review their fees with clients, showing a good faith accounting of the bill. Doing so is often enough to cause complaining clients to set their grievances aside. If an attorney can display that the billed amount complies with the Rules of Ethics on the books in Texas—which comport with the adopted American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct—then most disciplinary hearings should go their way.
The Model Rules of Professional Conduct contains factors that help an attorney with formulating a good-faith fee. For example, an attorney should examine the customary fees in their practice area. They should consider the complexity of legal questions in the case. They may take into account how much effort they’ve been required to expend in resolving a matter, and to what extent their skill-level has played into the resolution of the case. A fee levied should be reasonable given these considerations.
If the State Bar determines that an attorney has not charged fees in a way that can be considered in consonance with these ethical standards, it may begin looking at other elements that have gone into the fees—including problematic possibilities such as misuse of funds or even fraud. No attorney wants those words floated in connection with their professional reputation—and even less wants them applied against their license. A skilled professional license defense attorney can help.
Professional License Defense
BERTOLINO LLP provides aggressive advocacy for legal professionals facing disciplinary action in Texas. We have consistently won significant cases for lawyers and other professionals dealing with issues that could jeopardize their ability to work. We know how to build a strong case to protect your license—and your livelihood.
With offices in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, we serve attorney clients all over the state. As experienced attorneys, well-versed in state and federal ethics rules, we know how to win. Our results speak for themselves!
If you are facing disciplinary action before the Texas State Bar, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.