Iowa lawyer suspended 30 days for $2,500 minimum fee.

by JMF on April 13, 2012

As reported by the ABA Journal and Lawyerist, an Iowa lawyer was suspended for 30 days for keeping a $2,500 minimum fee on a criminal law matter.

According to the article, the lawyer only completed 3.7 hours of work  – including 1 hour spent doing an accounting.  The case against the client was ultimately dismissed and the client wanted some money back.

I don’t have more facts beyond the article.  I have read plenty of ethics opinions where non-refundable fees got lawyers in hot water or worse.  My question:  why use one?  It doesn’t seem worth the risk.

Here are my other thoughts:

  • Don’t be a jerk
  • Don’t charge more than your services are worth
  • Don’t mess with the disciplinary committee
  • Solo lawyers can have a hard time making a living

I feel a little bad for the lawyer.  $2,500 is a pretty reasonable retainer.  My dentist charges more for less.  Doctors charge more for less.  Lawyers seem to get the low end of the proverbial stick.

What are your thoughts?


-This post was written by Joseph M. Flanders and lawyer in Apple Valley, MN.

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