Continuing Legal Education

TELESEMINAR: Attorney Ethics and Alternative Fee Arrangements – A National Perspective

December 19, 2013
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1.00 MCLE hours, including 1.00 Professional Responsibility MCLE credit hours (PMCLE credit subject to approval)


The long-standing model of fee-for-legal service is slowly eroding as clients target legal costs and budgets for reduction. In addition to conventional contingency fee arrangements there has been a rise in “success fees” in transactional and litigation practice. Flat fee arrangements are increasingly common in transactional representations. But these and other more exotic arrangements raise substantial ethical issuer for lawyers, including the requirement to zealously represent a client’s interest, ownership of flat fees, the absolute right of clients to terminate representations, the reasonableness of success fees, and many other issues. This program will provide you with a practical guide to ethical issues when attorneys and clients agree to alternative fee arrangements in litigation and transactional practice. 


  • Ethical issues in alternative fee arrangements – contingency and success fees, flat fees, blended rates and more
  • Reasonableness in contingency fee and “success fee” arrangements
  • Flat fee issues – how is the fee handled in a law firm, who owns it, when does it become the firm’s?
  • Zealous representation –what if a fee runs out before the representation?
  • Client’s right to terminate a representation – what happens to the alternative fee?
  • Proper treatment of retainers and other pre-payments of fees  


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Program Speakers:
Matthew Corbin
, Professional Services Group of AON Risk Services
Thomas E. Spahn, McGuireWoods, LLP, Virginia


*Professional Responsibility MCLE credit subject to approval


Matthew Corbin is Vice President and Director in the Professional Services Group of AON Risk Services, where he consults with the company’s law firm clients on professional responsibility and liability issues. Before joining AON, he was a partner with Lathrop & Gage, LLP, where he was a trial and appellate lawyer handling professional liability, commercial, business tort, employment, construction, insurance, and regulatory matters. Before entering private practice, he served as a judicial clerk to Judge Mary Briscoe of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  Mr. Corbin earned his B.A. from the University of Kansas and his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Thomas E. Spahn is a partner in the McLean, Virginia office of McGuireWoods, LLP, where he has a broad complex commercial, business and securities litigation practice. He also has a substantial practice advising businesses on properly creating and preserving the attorney-client privilege and work product protections.  For more than 20 years he has lectured extensively on legal ethics and professionalism and has written “The Attorney-Client Privilege and the Work Product Doctrine: A Practitioner’s Guide,” a 750 page treatise published by the Virginia Law Foundation.  Mr. Spahn has served as member of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and as a member of the Virginia State Bar's Legal Ethics Committee.  He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and his J.D. from Yale Law School.