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Law School Case Brief

In re Fordham - 423 Mass. 481, 668 N.E.2d 816 (1996)

Rule:

 It cannot be that an inexperienced lawyer is entitled to charge three or four times as much as an experienced lawyer for the same service.

Facts:

The bar counsel filed a petition for discipline against the attorney alleging that the attorney charged excessive fees for a drunken driving case. The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers dismissed the petition after hearings on the matter. A lower court justice denied the attorney's motion to dismiss bar counsel's appeal to the lower court, and the court affirmed the decision.

Issue:

Can an attorney be disciplined for charging excessive fees in a case?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court found that the attorney charged a clearly excessive fee pursuant to Mass. Sup. Jud. Ct. R. 3:07, DR 2-106(B), departing substantially from the obligation of professional responsibility owed to his client, and ordered that a judgment be entered in the lower court imposing a public censure. The court found that expert testimony indicated that the number of hours devoted to the case was substantially in excess of the hours a prudent experienced lawyer would have spent, the attorney's inexperience did not justify the high fee, as the client should not have paid for the education of the attorney.

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