Massachusetts Car Accident Attorney Fee Agreements to Change

The news from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is that car accident lawyers and other Massachusetts personal injury lawyers must use a new form for the contingent fee agreement, effective March 15, 2011. The focus of the new format is on full disclosure of out of pocket fees on contingent fees cases. The changes to Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct,1.5 was proposed by an SJC advisory committee, with input from the various bar associations.

Sometimes, following a car accident in Massachusetts, the client will become dissatisfied with his or her attorney and wish to change attorneys. This is entirely permissible. If the case is in suit, the Court must approve the withdrawal of counsel. Some of the changes include a clear delineation regarding who will pay for costs and fees in the event an attorney is discharged during the pendency of a case. This, of course, factors in when the lawyer sues the client for his or her fee. The goal seems to make the law more client friendly.
The history of the rule changes, which now reflects the American Bar Association model rule, may be simply catching up with the national rules and those coming out of Supreme Judicial Court cases — Malonis v. Harrington in 2004 (where the prior attorney received his fee based on his hours, reducing the second attorney’s contingent fee), Saggese v. Kelley in 2005, and Liss v. Studeny and In the Matter of the Discipline of an Attorney in 2008.