Clark v. Lawlor
A lawyer who allegedly agrees to represent clients without furnishing a written fee contract can violate Rule 1.5(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Prosecutors accused Herbert Clark of assault, and Clark hired the respondent attorney, Richard Lawlor, who had represented Clark previously. Clark paid Lawlor $1,500. Allegedly, Attorney Lawlor did not provide Clark with a written contract or a receipt for the $1,500 payment, when he represented Clark on the assault charges. Attorney Lawlor allegedly called Clark several times and did not leave any message. Clark did not appear in court, and his case was continued. Attorney Lawlor asked to withdraw from representing Clark. A public defender represented Clark, who was convicted. Clark filed a grievance complaint against Attorney Lawlor, who allegedly did not file an answer. Rule 1.5(b) provides, "The scope of the representation, the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible, shall be communicated to the client, in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate." The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent attorney failed to provide his client with a written retainer contract, in violation of Rule 1.5(b) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The respondent attorney "routinely agrees to represent clients," wrote the Statewide Grievance Committee, and "does not provide them with a retainer agreement." The Statewide Grievance Committee reprimanded the respondent attorney and ordered that he attend continuing legal education courses in legal ethics and law office management.