Jan 21, 2021

One of the issues I talk about in my book “Minority Viewpoint – my experience, as a person of color, with the American Justice system” is the way hourly rates might be changed for the legal professionals.

I was shocked to find out that my lawyer’s rate was suddenly increased by 18.6%. The case started in August and in 5 months (i.e., the following January) the rate was increased by this huge margin. When I was talking to another lawyer about this and asking why I did not receive any communication about this change, he asked me to go look at my retainer agreement and see what it said about rate increases. I went back and looked and found that the agreement stated that “if the hourly rate of any individual is increased, the new rate will be indicated on your next bill”. So I guess I was notified but I just did not realize that that was the only way rate changes are communicated to clients. When I received invoices I never looked at the details of rates and hours. I trusted the law firm and just simply made the payments.

I am not blaming anybody for this, but I do believe that it would have been much more appropriate for my lawyer or the law firm to send me a simple letter to make me aware of the upcoming increase. It could have also been done by a phone call or an email. That certainly would have seemed more open and straightforward to me. I would again like to leave this message to the legal community – more communication is much better in developing and maintaining a trusting relationship. Also, it brings up another question – is this kind of significant change appropriate within 5-6 months of starting a new case?

© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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