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  • #31
    Can a family law practitioner make an arrangement to cancel or refund fees based on success?
    No. There are a few problems with this.

    1. There is seldom 'success' in family court. Good legal strategy is more akin to breaking the fall rather than 'winning'. I often tell my clients no one wins in family court. With proper advice and strategy one can lose less. There is an exception for situations where one person is completely unreasonable (total parenting time denial when not warranted, refusal to pay basic support, reasonable equalization positions...etc.). Outside of this, many situations do not lend themselves to a 'win/loss' model.

    Related, who gets to define success? Many clients may feel they were not successful when an objective analysis might say they were. This is because family court isn't really about winning or vindication, but taking one home and splitting it into two... there is almost always the sense of loss in this process.

    2. Contingency fees are banned in family law matters (s.28.1(3) of the Solicitors Act). Your proposal could fall into this category.

    3. No professional would subscribe to a model with only downside risk. Nor should they. Even if we could define success in family law, then lawyers should get an upside if they succeed if there is a downside when they lose. Taking a greater percentage of the family wealth because the outcome was favorable doesn't seem ethical.

    False statements and errors by a lawyer may or may not warrant a fee reduction. More details are required. If a lawyer lied to the court, and it was clear they knew they were lying (and not just accepting their client's narrative), this might be a matter for the law society to review. A lawyer could get their fees reduced by an assessment officer, but only the client can request an assessment.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Kinso View Post
      No. There are a few problems with this.

      1. There is seldom 'success' in family court. Good legal strategy is more akin to breaking the fall rather than 'winning'. I often tell my clients no one wins in family court. With proper advice and strategy one can lose less. There is an exception for situations where one person is completely unreasonable (total parenting time denial when not warranted, refusal to pay basic support, reasonable equalization positions...etc.). Outside of this, many situations do not lend themselves to a 'win/loss' model.

      Related, who gets to define success? Many clients may feel they were not successful when an objective analysis might say they were. This is because family court isn't really about winning or vindication, but taking one home and splitting it into two... there is almost always the sense of loss in this process.

      2. Contingency fees are banned in family law matters (s.28.1(3) of the Solicitors Act). Your proposal could fall into this category.

      3. No professional would subscribe to a model with only downside risk. Nor should they. Even if we could define success in family law, then lawyers should get an upside if they succeed if there is a downside when they lose. Taking a greater percentage of the family wealth because the outcome was favorable doesn't seem ethical.

      False statements and errors by a lawyer may or may not warrant a fee reduction. More details are required. If a lawyer lied to the court, and it was clear they knew they were lying (and not just accepting their client's narrative), this might be a matter for the law society to review. A lawyer could get their fees reduced by an assessment officer, but only the client can request an assessment.
      1. Cost awards are assessed by the judge if no agreement between the parties?

      2. Unwritten contingency fees happen I am pretty sure.

      3. Submitting an inflated claim based on a known falsehood? That the judge corrects more than once? Unethical certainly, overzealous and damaging. No foul.

      Comment


      • #33
        Cost awards are different than fees. There are specialized appointees to do the fee assessments if needed.

        I'm sure unwritten contingency fees happen, but it's unethical. (Note, contingency fees means a percentage of recovery, deferred fees are a distinct thing)

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by Kinso View Post
          Cost awards are different than fees. There are specialized appointees to do the fee assessments if needed.

          I'm sure unwritten contingency fees happen, but it's unethical. (Note, contingency fees means a percentage of recovery, deferred fees are a distinct thing)
          Some will adjust fees based on cost award
          Modified contingency

          Comment


          • #35
            Some will adjust fees based on cost award
            Modified contingency
            Sorta, but without more details I cannot say if it's ethical or not. It certainly approaches the grey line.

            I would not support a business model where my revenue is contingent.

            Comment


            • #36
              My husband demanded a credit for an appointment and time spent drafting an offer which didnít go out. He was adamant that he not be charged as he had to go back and do a new one as it was out of date. The lawyer agreed.

              This is why a retainer agreement is so important and why it is just as important for the client to follow the agreement and be on top of things. If your lawyer does not provide a retainer agreement and also does not provide a statement of account after doing work or monthly, run to a new lawyer. A retainer agreement is a contract between you both and clearly outlines what you are paying for.

              Many clients make a number of calls, put additional demands on their lawyers and have unrealistic expectations which increases bills. Best advice is to educate yourself on the process, write down all you questions before an appointment, always ask worst and best case scenario, always ask what their timelines are (i.e. when should I expect to see a copy of the documents filed) etc. that avoids having to call repeatedly asking where the files are.

              Be smart. There are unethical lawyers but you can manage that by being aware and knowledgeable. NEVER EVER ignore your file or go the opposite direction and bug your lawyer daily.

              Comment


              • #37
                With the tech tools available online there is no reason that a client portal could not be implemented to allow complete account visibility not to mention secure file sharing. If your investment advisor charged fees willy nilly you would have an aneurysm. Or a contractor. Or a dog walker. I suggested this many times over the years and was scoffed at. Maybe should hire some html geeks and build a service.

                Why would anyone have to duplicate a file management and billing system? Ridiculous. Especially when you are trying to stay sane and maybe raise kids in legal mayhem.

                The murkier the waters the better it seems. Family Law in particular because it is so emotional is prone to issues.

                Yes there are many excellent, reputable and dare I say honest lawyers. They would welcome transparency I would like to think.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Many clients make a number of calls, put additional demands on their lawyers and have unrealistic expectations which increases bills. Best advice is to educate yourself on the process, write down all you questions before an appointment, always ask worst and best case scenario, always ask what their timelines are (i.e. when should I expect to see a copy of the documents filed) etc. that avoids having to call repeatedly asking where the files are.
                  Solid advice. I love it when a client comes in with a list of questions and we can have a focused meeting addressing their concerns rather than 10 interruptions a day (it has happened) for 10 questions I have to answer in piecemeal.

                  With the tech tools available online there is no reason that a client portal could not be implemented to allow complete account visibility not to mention secure file sharing. If your investment advisor charged fees willy nilly you would have an aneurysm. Or a contractor. Or a dog walker. I suggested this many times over the years and was scoffed at. Maybe should hire some html geeks and build a service.
                  I would love an 'off the shelf' or cloud based product like this which worked well. What does exist is cumbersome and takes more time to manage than it saves.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Off the shelf is unicorn ware
                    But you could make a real killing if you designed this and rolled it out
                    Must be something in play already

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Hello folks I need some advice. Is an emergency case conference worth my time and money even with all the pandemic chaos going on or should I wait for a regular case conference? My lawyer says we can proceed with this as my ex has stopped paying child support and owes thousands in arrears with very limited disclosure provided in the last 2.5 years. I spoke for 3 minutes with my lawyer and didn't have the chance to even ask my questions. He seemed annoyed that i expect something after 2.5 years. So frustrated right now. I need to make a decision over the next day or two. My ex will not agree to anything and will claim he is not working due to pandemic. All lies. Thoughts? advice please.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Are you in a province that has enforcement? If yes, file your order with them for recovery. It will light a fire under your ex.

                        2.5 years is not long. There are others on here at the 5+ years mark. It also isnít an emergency which wonít be heard. Your lawyer is probably saying no because there is nothing to be done right now.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Happy Canada day! Update. My lawyer after 2.5 years is finally requesting an urgent motion on notice, my lawyer gave them till today to provide financial disclosure, and notified OC that an urgent motion will be filed. no response from OC. My child went for access and my ex told her we will lose, 10 year old child should not be hearing about our case. The only argument I have is financial hardship, had to borrow 15k to proceed, scared to lose, my ex is planning to say he has no $$ self employed, liquidated 4 properties in the Gta area in the past 2 years, nothing disclosed, please tell me I have a fighting chance with the urgent motion, his cluncel has adjourned 3 case conferences dates so far, they don't want this to go to court, am I wasting $$$ filing an urgent motion prior to CC.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            If he has had an order for disclosure and has ignored it then you have a leg to stand on. It all depends on how forcefully your counsel argues. Have faith.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Update: so I had a case conference scheduled for June 9th, it was missed, my lawyer said he had to write an apology letter to the court, I confronted the lawyer and he said it was not his fault, he states the apology letter was a formality, I asked for a copy of the letter and to date have not received one, I asked for an urgent case conference which he wrote a letter to OC stating we will book but he never followed through, new case conference scheduled for October 7, still no disclosure from my ex after 3 years, additionally I have requested fro to be involved and to this date nothing, my ex liquidated 4 properties in the past 2 years and my lawyer has done nothing, after case conference he is fired and I'm reporting him for misrepresentation

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                In regards fro when should a lawyer be requesting this. When I brought my application forward in early 2018 and asked for fro my lawyer said not yet. I don’t understand his ideology behind waiting for fro involvement. Trying to wrap my head around this

                                Comment

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