Money Matters: Ethics in Fees and Billing

The panel of experts will discuss the ethics principles which communications lawyers and firms need to understand when charging and billing their clients. This panel will discuss the following questions:

  • What are the ethical limits to charging: What is a “reasonable” fee? When must a fee be refunded? How clear must a lawyer be about the charges that will apply?
  • What are the types of fees (hourly, fixed, contingent, reverse contingent, “hybrid,” equity interest) and the ethical distinctions among them?
  • What charges apply when a client terminates: what are the different issues presented by fixed and contingency fees?

This panel will discuss the following questions:

  • What information should a bill provide? How does this apply to different forms of billing (narrative as opposed to task billing)?
  • What are legitimate “expenses?” How should expenses be billed?
  • What is the proper way to handle various types of client payments (trust accounts, retainers, advances, settlements, attorney’s fees)?
  • How should a lawyer handle an overpayment or double payment?


Thomas B. Mason, Partner, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP (Chair, Legal Ethics and Malpractice Group; Co-Chair, Professional Responsibility Committee, Federal Communications Bar Association)


George R. Clark, George R. Clark, Esq. (District of Columbia Bar Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee Chair (2009-2012); Secretary, Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers)
Rachel Cotton, Associate, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP (Litigation and Legal Ethics practice)
Margaret Tobey, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, NBCUniversal (President, Federal Communications Bar Association (2001-2002))

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Media contact

Kalie Hardos
Email | 202.822.3637