Goncalves v. Miniter
An attorney who, considering the results obtained, allegedly charges an unreasonable attorney's fee, violate Rules 1.5(a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The complainant, Cari-Ann Goncalves, hired the respondent attorney, Francis Miniter of Hartford, and paid Miniter $4,850. Miniter filed a complaint on behalf of Goncalves. Miniter allegedly did not respond to his client's request for an invoice. In November 2011, Miniter was suspended from the practice of law. Goncalves' civil case was not resolved before Miniter's suspension. A trustee became involved, and Goncalves' civil case was closed. The Statewide Grievance Committee found, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent charged an unreasonable attorney's fee, in violation of Rule 1.5(a), considering the results obtained. Rule 1.5(a) provides in part, "The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following: (1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; (2) The likelihood, if made known to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer; (3) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services; (4) The amount involved and the results obtained. . . ." The respondent's fee was not reasonable considering the results obtained. The Statewide Grievance Committee ordered the respondent's presentment to Superior Court for discipline.