Legal Malpractice representation often requires examination of the retainer agreement. Here is an interesting case on the issue.
“A provision of a retainer agreement requiring a client to pay her lawyer’s costs in the event of a successful fee collection action has been voided by a Manhattan appellate court as against public policy.
Patricia Dow hired attorney Jeffrey Ween in 1998 to represent her in a dispute with her co-op board over her right to sublet a commercial studio and over water leaks in the NoHo building as well as disturbances from a ground-floor garage. The matter settled in March 2003. Ween sued in July 2004 for more than $74,000 in allegedly unpaid legal fees.
Ween’s retainer agreement stated: “If client fails to pay for charges due under this agreement and the law firm takes legal action and is awarded such charges, client shall owe to law firm costs, expenses and attorneys’ fees (including but not limited to the reasonable value of the law firm’s own work) attributable to law firm’s collection proceedings and/or action.”
But the Appellate Division, 1st Department, said last week in Ween v. Dow, 110972/04, that “such a provision is not entitled to judicial sanction and is, therefore, unenforceable.”