Ethics Opinion 193

By Committee on Professional Ethics

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Professional Ethics Committee Opinions

Opinion #193 – 09/30/1971 (26-71)
Overruled (in part) by 399

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

QUESTION

May an attorney charge a service fee or interest on delinquent accounts?

OPINION

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.

Six diverse people sitting holding signs
gradient circle (purple) gradient circle (green)

Join NYSBA

My NYSBA Account

My NYSBA Account