Don't Miss the latest ABA ethics opinion on changing fee arrangements during representation.
Formal Opinion 11-458 August 4, 2011

Changing Fee Arrangements During Representation

Modification of an existing fee agreement is permissible under the Model Rules, but the lawyer must show that any modification was reasonable under the circumstances at the time of the modification as well as communicated to and accepted by the client. Periodic, incremental increases in a lawyer’s regular hourly billing rates are generally permissible if such practice is communicated clearly to and accepted by the client at the commencement of the client-lawyer relationship and any periodic increases are reasonable under the circumstances. Modifications sought by a lawyer that change the basic nature of a fee arrangement or significantly increase the lawyer’s compensation absent an unanticipated change in circumstances ordinarily will be unreasonable. Changes in fee arrangements that involve a lawyer acquiring an interest in the client’s business, real estate, or other nonmonetary property will ordinarily require compliance with Rule 1.8(a).1



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We have several spots still open for one of the networking groups run by the Small Law Firm Committee. This group meets at 8:30 a.m. every third Thursday of the month. It is an attorneys-only group; only one practice area permitted per member. The following categories are already taken: Customs and international trade; trust & estate, elder law; tax; residential and commercial real estate; business/transactional, corporate governance; family law and divorce mediation, collaborative divorce; personal injury, legal malpractice, medical malpractice. Please contact if you are interested. Even if you think your practice area is already taken, we might be able to find a spot for you. $14 per meeting for members; $20 per meeting for visitors. Coffee, tea, juice, continental breakfast included.



This program begins in January of 2011

Dear Solo and Small Firm Practitioners,

A number of Association members have been seeking to connect with more experienced lawyers as mentors when handling matters in a particular area of law. In order to provide a means of matching lawyers with potential mentors, the New York City Bar has developed a new pilot mentoring program.

This will be a joint program of the Small Law Firm Center and the Legal Referral Service. If you believe you would benefit from the guidance of a mentor in a practice area, you may request to be paired up with a mentor, who is a panel member of the Legal Referral Service. Once your mentor is assigned, you can begin your mentor /mentee relationship on the following terms:

1. You may schedule meetings and/or telephone conferences with the mentor, during which you can ask specific substantive legal or practice related questions. For this type of service the mentors who are members of the LRS panel have graciously agreed to accept a reduced hourly fee of $100, which shall be paid by the mentee.

2. You may agree to co-counsel a case with the mentor based upon a mutually beneficial arrangement, which divides the work load and the fees from a particular client, subject to the LRS rules of panel membership.

3. The ability to help on any specific legal matter will depend upon the availability of a suitable mentor at the time that the request is received.

For more information and to apply, email

Best Regards,

Alla Roytberg

Director of the Small Law Firm Center, New York City Bar


NYS Commission's Report:
The Commission to Examing Solo and Small Firm Practice