New ABA Formal Opinion Allows Counsel to "Change Horses Midstream"


What if a client requests that the lawyer switch from being compensated by the hour to accepting a contingency fee instead? How would the lawyer avoid any conflicts, fulfill her duties of disclosure and avoid any other ethical violations to make that change, and how would this be done in a way to maximize its enforceability?

The American Bar Association (ABA) issued a new formal opinion (11-458, Changing Fee Arrangements During Representation, Aug. 4, 2011) which may help answer that question. 11-458 clarifies the circumstances wherein a lawyer may modify an existing fee agreement during the representation, or "change horses midstream."

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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