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Trust Accounting for Litigation Costs

Adopted: January 13, 1989

Opinion rules that where a lawyer receives a lump sum payment in advance which is inclusive of the costs of litigation, the portion representing the costs must be deposited in the trust account.


Is it proper for a law firm to contract for a total amount of attorney's fees, all costs inclusive, deposit the entire amount into a general account as fees, and pay all the costs of the action, including filing and process fees out of the general account. Assume that the client has agreed in writing to the above agreement before the receipt of any funds.


No. Under the circumstances described, some of the money collected by the firm as "fees" would actually be an entrustment intended to defray the costs of litigation. Rules 10.1(a) and (c) require that funds received in the fiduciary capacity, however characterized, be directly deposited into a trust account.

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