Law School Case Brief
In re Fordham - 423 Mass. 481, 668 N.E.2d 816 (1996)
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.
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.
Can an attorney be disciplined for charging excessive fees in a case?
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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