Complicated Ethics Issues in Fee Agreements



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Complicated Ethics Issues in Fee Agreements
Credit Details
Credit Hours:
Specialty Area:
Credit Type:
Legal Ethics
Original Air Date:
July 27, 2023
Accredited In:

You may be able to self apply for credits in states not listed. BHBA provides CLE accreditation as described above. 

About the Program

This panel of top attorneys in malpractice and ethics will discuss the complicated issues in fee agreements, including:

– Contingent fees of 50% or more
– Changing fee amounts mid-stream
– Can a contingent fee ever be increased after the initial K is entered?
– Taking a percentage of the client’s income in perpetuity (despite new counsel, new K having been negotiated, and other change of circumstances, can this be shoehorned into an unconscionability argument?)
– Nuances of referral fees; best practices for handling fee disputes
– Requirement of observing MFAA in B&P Code before compelling contractual arbitration
– Arbitration agreements
– When and what do you have to tell the client to seek independent counsel before agreeing (e.g., waiver of a jury trial is an essential right that needs to be carefully considered; that the loser in litigation may pay attorney’s fees)

Meet the Speakers
Neville L. Johnson


Senior Partner Johnson & Johnson LLP

Neville L. Johnson is Senior Partner at Johnson & Johnson. Neville L. Johnson graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley (1971). He received his law degree from Southwestern Law School (1975), graduating near the top of his class. He has tried over 28 civil jury trials and over 70 civil trials and arbitrations without a jury. He is a member of the invitation-only American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) and is on the Board of Governors of the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles (CAALA since 2005), the Board of Directors of the national organization Public Justice, and on the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association 2013-2015 and 2020-2022 (BHBA). Johnson is a long-time member of the invitation-only Los Angeles Copyright Society, and on the Board of The California Society of Entertainment Lawyers.

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Marshall R. Cole


Managing Partner Nemecek & Cole

Marshall R. Cole is one of Nemecek & Cole’s highly skilled trial attorneys who has extensive experience handling complex and high-profile matters through trial. Named by the Daily Journal as one of the top professional liability attorneys in the State of California, Marshall represents many of the most successful and innovative licensed professionals in the United States through all aspects of litigation. Marshall also handles complex civil litigation matters arising out of real estate disputes, tax matters, sexual harassment claims and contract related disputes. With a proactive, decisive and approachable style, Marshall is known as an incredible problem solver who is able to resolve cases early and efficiently. When matters cannot be resolved, these same skills have allowed Marshall to maintain a consistent track record of obtaining verdicts in favor of his clients at trial. Marshall also donates his time serving as a Volunteer Prosecutor for the City of Inglewood. 

Marshall is routinely called upon to speak at seminars regarding ethics, trial skills and relevant topics in the legal community.

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Ellen A. Pansky


Partner Pansky Markle Advisors

Ellen A. Pansky specializes in the defense of attorneys, bar applicants and other professionals in regulatory and licensure proceedings and represents both plaintiffs and defendants in civil legal malpractice actions. She consults with and advises lawyers in legal ethics and risk management. She frequently serves as an expert witness in legal malpractice proceedings. 

Ms. Pansky is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in the area of Legal Malpractice Law. In 2021, she was appointed to the State Bar of California’s Ad Hoc Commission on the Discipline System.

As a California State Bar certified MCLE provider, Ms. Pansky is a frequent lecturer on legal ethics and professional responsibility. She has presented well over 100 continuing legal education courses. She has been elected as a member of The American Law Institute and was selected as one of the Inaugural Fellows of the National Institute for Teaching Ethics and Professionalism (NIFTEP). She also was an invited participant in Harvard University Law School’s 2001focus group on law firm ethics advisors. Ms. Pansky has been a contributor to Legal Malpractice Law Review at 

Ms. Pansky has published extensively in the area of legal ethics, including as a contributing author (Conflicts of Interest Chapter) of California Civil Procedure Before Trial, CEB; a contributing editor to “Attorney Ethics” California Practice Handbook (Matthew Bender 1993); and has authored a number of articles. 

Between 1978 and 1983, Ms. Pansky served as a prosecutor in the Office of Trial Counsel for the State Bar of California. In that capacity, she handled approximately 100 formal disciplinary proceedings and thousands of investigations of California attorneys.

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