How to Prevent a Fight with Co-Counsel over Litigation Dividing Fees?

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How to Prevent a Fight with Co-Counsel
How to Prevent a Fight with Co-Counsel

If you’ve been in the legal industry for a while, you might have a friend with a rock-solid case who needs you to represent them, and you know how impacting and substantial the damages can be. The problem with solo-practitioners is that they’ve only handled cases of small magnitude.

If you’re one of them, you too might feel more confident and comfortable when an attorney is included in the case. On the other hand, managing this case also means you’re going to get a hefty paycheck for your efforts. It’s simply your take to bear the high risk and get the largest chunk of the meal or not.

Rules for Dividing Fees – How Does it Work? 

Due to a low experience of specific law practices, general practitioners might feel a little uneasy while representing someone in a specific case like personal injury. The fee dividing rule requires both the representative and practitioner to sign an agreement.

If there’s any referring party involved, it would get paid a percentage of the case’s fee. However, sometimes the lawyers might not agree to the agreement, but this is completely unpredictable. The case can still be settled alongside determining the precise way to divide the fee.

After the settlement of the case and receiving payment from the client, the general practitioner needs to pay the referring lawyer their portion of the fee. If they fail to do so, the referring attorney can file a lien in the court and demand an appearance in the case.

According to the law, the representation fee can be divided whether or not both the representative and general lawyer work in the case. Moreover, it also encourages both to decide upon a perfect diving fee before things start to take action.

Tips to Avoid Disputes over Diving Fee 

Foremost of all, make sure you’re not discouraged from bringing a co-counsel to get help with the representation. According to several studies, associating with other lawyers is a great practice, encouraged by ethical rules of the law. Here’s how not to have disputes over splitting fees:

  • Be Clear and Concise with the Attorney 

The first thing that you need to do after bringing a co-counsel is to determine the way fees will be divided between both the lawyers involved in the case. Although the court doesn’t directly order you to have a written agreement signed between both the lawyers, it’s always a good thing to do.

Start by initiating a conversation at the outset, and make sure you never assume your personal assumption will be fine in terms of fee division. To be on the safer side, you can also put the offer on a written material with your signatures.

  • Always sign an agreement with the Client

Apart from letting the other lawyer involved know about how the fee will be divided, you also need to have the client agree to this partition in proper writing. According to the requirement of Colo. RPC 1.5., the rule is in place to protect the clients, even if they’re not involved in the litigation directly.

Moreover, you also need to make sure that the agreement contains a specified section for fee-splitting and client onboarding. If you make sure you have a signed agreement, you can share your fee smoothly, especially when it’s a big cut.

The Takeaway 

While you might feel more comfortable in the involvement of an attorney, it won’t help you to get a sweet paycheck at the end of the day. Therefore, make sure you never hesitate from getting a co-counsel to help you with the case and still enjoy your part of the money.

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