LEO: Fees: Dispute Between Client and  LE Op. 817


Fees: Dispute Between Client and Forwarding Attorney.


September 19, 1986


An attorney recovered fees which were subject to division with a

forwarding attorney. Subsequently, client advised the attorney that client

and forwarding attorney were involved in a dispute over the fees and

requested that attorney not transmit any funds to the forwarding attorney

until the dispute was settled. Attorney sent a letter to both the client

and forwarding attorney outlining the attorney's understanding of the

disposition of money and stating when the attorney expected to disburse

the funds. Client approved the attorney's proposal and no response was

received from the forwarding attorney. Eventually, the attorney disbursed

funds as outlined in the proposal and withheld the funds that the attorney

understood to be in dispute. The forwarding attorney then notified the

attorney that he disagreed with the manner in which the attorney had

distributed the funds. Consequently, the attorney restored ample funds to

his trustee's account to cover the amount the attorney understood to be in



Given the above circumstances, the committee opined that the attorney was

not required to advise the forwarding attorney of client's concerns

regarding fees and that the attorney appropriately disbursed the fees. The

committee advised the attorney to deposit the retained funds into one or

more identifiable bank accounts pending resolution of the dispute between

client and forwarding attorney. The committee determined the resolution of

the disagreement to be a legal, and not an ethical matter. [ DR:2-105(D),

EC:2-24, DR:9-102(A)(2)]


Committee Opinion September 19, 1986