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Top 10 Tips to Avoid Fee Disputes, with Carl Mueller

Tim Kowal     May 28, 2024

Every attorney has felt the concern over a growing receivable, and the frustration of a nonpaying client. In the continuation of our discussion in the last episode, Carl Mueller shares his top 10 tips to avoid them and win them. The tips include:

  • See a “red flag”? Trust your gut, and run.
  • Check your retainer agreements for compliance with Business and Professions Code sections 6146, 6147, and 6148. And fully describe your financial arrangement, including rate increases and trial deposits.
  • Did you make important case disclosures to the client on a phone call? Put that in your billing statement. The client will be deemed to have acknowledged you made the disclosures.
  • Before sending you the fee arb notice, be aware of the one-year malpractice statute of limitations!

Carl I. S. Mueller’s biography, LinkedIn profile.

Appellate Specialist Jeff Lewis' biography, LinkedIn profile, and Twitter feed.

Appellate Specialist Tim Kowal's biography, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, and YouTube page.

Sign up for Not To Be Published, Tim Kowal’s weekly legal update, or view his blog of recent cases.

The California Appellate Law Podcast thanks Casetext for sponsoring the podcast. Listeners receive a discount on Casetext Basic Research at casetext.com/CALP. The co-hosts, Jeff and Tim, were also invited to try Casetext’s newest technology, CoCounsel, the world’s first AI legal assistant. You can discover CoCounsel for yourself with a demo and free trial at casetext.com/CoCounsel.

Other items discussed in the episode:

Tim Kowal is an appellate specialist certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. Tim helps trial attorneys and clients win their cases and avoid error on appeal. He co-hosts the Cal. Appellate Law Podcast at CALpodcast.com, and publishes summaries of cases and appellate tips for trial attorneys. Contact Tim at [email protected] or (949) 676-9989.
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"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.

Leviticus

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

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— James Madison, Federalist 62

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— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

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