June 26, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Attorney Did Not Violate Rule 1.16(d) Where Some of Non-Returned Flat Fee was Earned

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of Juliet Carol Gilbert on Monday, April 6, 2015.

Attorney Discipline—Quantum Meruit—Colo. RPC 1.16(d).

In this attorney discipline proceeding, the Supreme Court considered whether an attorney violated Colo. RPC 1.16(d) by failing to return all of an advance fee to her clients. Colo. RPC 1.16(d) requires attorneys to refund upon termination by a client any advance payment of fee that “has not been earned.”

In this case, the attorney’s flat fee agreement did not describe what payment, if any, the clients would owe the attorney if the representation ended early. The Hearing Board determined that the attorney had earned part of the advance fee under a quantum meruit theory by performing services for the clients, and that she did not violate the ethical rules by retaining this amount after her discharge.

The Supreme Court affirmed the Hearing Board’s order. Under the facts of this case, the attorney did not violate Colo. RPC 1.16(d) by failing to return the portion of an advance fee to which she was entitled in quantum meruit for services rendered for her clients.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Supreme Court: Quantum Meruit Claim Allowed Against Former Co-Counsel Even When Barred as Against Former Client

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Melat, Pressman, and Higbie, L.L.P. v. Hannon Law Firm, L.L.C. on Monday, October 22, 2012.

Quantum Meruit Recovery From Former Co-Counsel—Time of Accrual—Statute of Limitations—Contingent Fee Agreements—CRCP Ch. 23.3.

The Supreme Court held that, where multiple attorneys are co-counsel in a contingent fee agreement, CRCP Chapter 23.3 does not bar a withdrawing attorney from pursuing a quantum meruit action against former co-counsel for a share of attorney fees obtained in the case, even though that attorney is barred from pursuing such an action against the former client. The claim accrues at the time the withdrawing attorney knows or should know of the occurrence of the settlement or judgment that will result in the payment of attorney fees.

Summary and full case available here.