Get Your Fee Agreements!

The Fifth Edition of the OSB publicationFee Agreement Compendium, is now available on BarBooks.

Topics include

  • Ethics Issues Arising in Fee Agreements
  • Billing Costs
  • Truth in Lending Act and Attorney Fee Agreements
  • OSB Fee Dispute Resolution Program
  • Drafting Tips for Fee Agreements
  • Retained or Not Retained–You May Need to Prove It
  • IOLTA in Relation to Fee Agreements
  • And 14 sample forms, including 9 addressing specific practice areas

Get answers to your frequently asked questions

Credit cards and installment payments

  • Does the Truth-in-Lending-Act prohibit me from passing on credit card surcharges to clients? §3.9
  • What are the implications of taking installment payments from clients?  §3.4

Client costs

  • Should I “bundle” or “unbundle” client costs? §2.3
  • What are the tax consequences of advancing costs for a client? §2.5-2
  • Am I personally liable for costs if the client doesn’t pay? §2.7

Drafting Tips

  • What are the 10 best tips for drafting fee agreements? §5.2
  • What are the perils of an ambiguous fee agreement? §5.1-3

Fee Disputes

  • Should I, or shouldn’t I, use OSB Fee Dispute Resolution?  §4.1-1 through 4.1-3.

Referral fees, splitting fees, and limited scope representation

  • What are the rules on referral fees? Splitting Fees? §1.1-7, §12.1 through 12.2-4.
  • How should I craft a limited scope representation agreement? §10.1 through 10.2.

(See the cited sections for answers.)

The Fee Agreement Compendium has always been a treasure trove of resources and tips.  Download the PDF from BarBooks today.

All Rights Reserved – 2018 – Beverly Michaelis

 

Billing Practices and Lawyer Compensation

The new OSB 2017 Economic Survey is available for download. In it, you’ll find a plethora of information about Oregon lawyers, including employment characteristics, compensation, billing practices, career satisfaction, and future plans.  Here are a few highlights:

Employment Characteristics

  • 28.3% of survey respondents reported being a member of at least one other state bar.
  • 86.1% reported working as an Oregon lawyer; 13.9% were not.
  • Lawyers who chose to work part-time did so to maintain work/family balance, pursue other career interests, or because they were semi-retired.
  • Slightly more than 60% of working Oregon lawyers reported being in private practice, with just under 20% in government positions.
  • The most dominant areas of private practice are business/corporate (transactional and litigation), civil litigation (plaintiff and defense), tax/estate planning, family law, and real estate/land use/environmental.
  • The most common practice size was a 1 lawyer office, followed by 3-6 lawyer offices, and 7-20 lawyer offices.

Compensation

  • The statewide mean compensation was $143,277.
  • The amount of compensation was highest in the Portland metro area and lowest on the Oregon coast.
  • The highest paying area of practice was real estate/land use/environmental.
  • Statewide, female lawyers reported earning less than male lawyers.
  • Peak earning years were 50-59, with compensation generally decreasing after age 60.

Billing Practices

  • Statewide, the mean hourly rate was $286, ranging from $226 to $324 regionally. (The highest reported hourly rate was $850 in Portland.)
  • By area of practice, the highest hourly rate was for business/corporate – litigation, with a mean of $333.  Other top billing areas were: real estate/land use/environmental, civil litigation – defendant (excluding insurance defense), and business/corporate – transactional.

Career Satisfaction

  • On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very dissatisfied and 5 being very satisfied, lawyers statewide had a mean career satisfaction rate of 3.98. In general, the more years in practice, the greater a lawyer’s satisfaction with his/her career.
  • By location, employment, and area of practice, the most satisfied lawyers were:
    • In the Upper Willamette Valley
    • Working as judges or hearing officers
    • Practicing in civil litigation defense, real estate/land use/environmental, or criminal law (private bar).

Future Plans

  • 19.2% of lawyers statewide reported they were planning or contemplating retirement.
  • 6.7% were planning to leave the profession, but not retire.
  • Another 10.3% were planning to reduce their practices.

All Rights Reserved 2018 Beverly Michaelis

 

Are Limited License Legal Technicians Coming to Oregon?

With the success of the Washington Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) experiment, will Oregon finally dip its toe into paraprofessional licensing? The answer appears to be yes.

In June 2017 the OSB Futures Task Force submitted its report to the OSB Board of Governors. Among the recommendations: implementation of a paraprofessional licensing (LLLT) program in Oregon.

The task force recommended the BOG appoint a committee to develop a detailed implementation plan. The plan would include draft rules of admission, practice, and professional conduct for approval by the Supreme Court and adoption by the BOG. ORS Chapter 9 would be amended to provide for licensure of paraprofessionals who would be authorized to provide limited legal services, without attorney supervision, to self-represented litigants in family law and landlord-tenant proceedings. Consumer protection measures would also be enacted.

Why Do We Need LLLTs (Paraprofessionals)?

Short answer: access to justice. As detailed in the task force report, the number of self-represented litigants continues to grow. Legal Aid, pro bono services, and limited scope representation only meet a small part of the need.

Minimum Qualifications and Licensing

The task force report lays out a series of minimum qualifications for paraprofessionals or LLLTs. Licensing would include “liability insurance in an amount to be determined,” preferably through the Professional Liability Fund, and continuing legal education. To protect the public from confusion, LLLTs would be required to use written agreements with mandatory disclosures.

Scope of Services

“Licensees should be able to select, prepare, file, and serve forms
and other documents in an approved proceeding; provide information and advice relating to the proceeding; communicate and negotiate with another party; and provide emotional and administrative support to the client in court. Licensees should be prohibited from representing clients in depositions, in court, and in appeals.”

Proposed Expansion of Washington’s LLLT Program

BOG approval of a LLLT/paraprofessional program seems greater than 50-50. As we await the outcome in Oregon, Washington is seeking to update its program. Under draft amendments, the LLLT role would expand to permit:

  • Accompanying and assisting clients in specific court proceedings, mediation, settlement conferences, and arbitration proceedings.
  • Attending, but not participating in, depositions.
  • Communicating with opposing counsel and parties on procedural matters and negotiations.
  • Gathering information on the value and potential encumbrances on a home.
  • Presenting agreed, uncontested, and default court orders.
  • Assisting clients seeking nonparental custody or major modifications up to the point of the adequate cause hearing.
  • Dividing single-family residential dwellings which have no more than twice the homestead exemption in equity.

Washington bar members have until July 17 to submit comments.

Parting Thoughts

At its June meeting, the BOG accepted the OSB Futures Task Force report. As noted on the OSB website, “the board will be looking at those recommendations throughout the year and likely into 2018.” Comments are encouraged and may be submitted to president@osbar.org.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2017

Free Law Practice Transition CLE

On November 1, the Oregon State Bar is offering a FREE Law Practice Transition CLE for lawyers who are interested in buying or selling a law practice.  Here is the announcement:

The legal profession is undergoing a demographic shift as baby boomers retire in large numbers and a steady stream of law school grads enter the marketplace. In the meantime, the ratio of new lawyers to entry-level positions has caused many new lawyers to hang out their own shingle when they don’t find employment elsewhere.

To address this issue, a free CLE will be held on Friday, November 1, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the bar center in Tigard, with a social/networking hour hosted by LawPay immediately following. “Law Practice Transitions: Buying, Selling, or Transferring a Law Practice” is the first in a new series of seminars designed to help lawyers looking to move into our out of an existing practice.

Whether you want to sell or you are looking to start a career (without starting from scratch), this CLE will give you valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to transition planning. Plus, all attendees will receive a coupon code to post a practice for sale on the bar’s online Career Center for FREE!

Thanks to LawPay for graciously hosting the social/networking event immediately following the CLE.

Special thanks to the Oregon New Lawyers Division and the Sole and Small Firm Practice Section for the assistance with this program.