Lawyer Suspended for Charging Excessive Fee

Posted on Apr 15, 2012
Is $2500 an excessive fee in a criminal case when the state drops the charges and the lawyer does not work even three hours on the case? The Iowa Supreme Court thought so and it recently suspended lawyer William Vilmont for 30 days for charging a client such an excessive fee. Vilmont and the client agreed to terms of $225 per hour and a minimum fee of $2500 for representation in a criminal case. But then the state suddenly and unexpectedly dropped the charges. Despite this unexpected development, Vilmont charged the full $2500. Read more: Lawyer's $2,500 Minimum Fee Earns Him 30-Day Suspension.

This punishment was well-deserved. The state's sudden dismissal of the charges was unexpected and completely beyond the bounds of the representation agreement. The lawyer earned some fee -- there was no dispute that he did some work -- but not the full fee no matter what the representation agreement said.

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