Ethics Opinion 193
Opinion #193 – 09/30/1971 (26-71)
Overruled (in part) by 399
legal fees, interest
Topic: Interest Charges on Unpaid Legal Fees
Digest: Improper for an attorney to charge interest or service fee on delinquent accounts
Code: EC 2-17; 2-19: 2-23
May an attorney charge a service fee or interest on delinquent accounts?
It has heretofore been concluded that it was improper for an attorney to affix interest charges on delinquent accounts. N.Y. State 87 (1968); See also, ABA Inf. 741 (1964).Nothing contained in the Code of Professional Responsibility effective January 1, 1970 has altered this conclusion. See EC 2-17, EC 2-19, and EC 2-23. A “service fee” instead of “interest” does not change the result.This, of course, does not prohibit in an extreme case, the commencement of appropriate litigation to collect a fee to which may be added interest and costs. A lawyer “should not sue a client for a fee unless necessary to prevent fraud or gross imposition by the client’. EC 2-23.