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Off to a Good Start Part II: The Ethics Of Retainer Agreements

(566 Ratings)

Produced on: September 24, 2016

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 75 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

When good attorneys get sued for legal malpractice or embroiled in a disciplinary proceeding, the problem can usually be traced back to the decision to take on a client or legal matter, or a flaw in the terms of the retention. “Off to a Good Start,” led by attorney Daniel Abrams and designed to help the junior or intermediate lawyer, will explore the applicable law and ethics rules most relevant to client selection and retention.

In Part II of “Off to a Good Start,” Mr. Abrams will cover retainer agreements, including what should be in every agreement, defining the scope of a representation consistent with ethics rules, drafting fee provisions that are enforceable and pass ethical muster, securing appropriate waivers for common conflict of interest issues, and other provisions to consider. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Gain knowledge and skills to ethically attract good clients and avoid bad clients
  2. Identify how to define the scope of a representation
  3. Properly draft fee provisions
  4. Understand how to enter into retainer agreements that identify and avoid common problems concerning the Ethics Rules

This course originally appeared as a part of our September 2016 Bridge the Gap Event.


Daniel Abrams

Law Office of Daniel L. Abrams, PLLC

Daniel L. Abrams’ practice focuses on legal malpractice, and business litigation. Mr. Abrams has helped many corporations and individuals complaining of inadequate legal services or overbilling obtain relief and settlements from their former attorneys. He represents mostly plaintiffs but occasionally defendants in legal malpractice cases and other disputes related to legal ethics, including legal fee disputes, breach of fiduciary duty cases, cases alleging conflicts of interest, and other professional responsibility issues. Lawyers and law firms frequently hire Mr. Abrams to serve as lawyer, expert or consultant on issues related to legal ethics or the law governing lawyers. He has taught legal ethics to other lawyers for the Practicing Law Institute, the New York State Bar Association, and Access MCLE. He has also appeared as a guest lecturer at Suffolk Law School.

In addition to his legal malpractice and ethics practice, Mr. Abrams has an active business litigation practice. Mr. Abrams’ clients include business owners, general counsel, and individuals in a full range of business litigation and arbitration matters. His cases have included business dealings arising out of oil & gas contracts, licensing agreements, business mergers, employment agreements, financing arrangements, business fraud, trade secrets, and corporate whistleblower allegations. His litigation cases include a successful multi-million dollar reversal of an arbitration award, a defense victory after a bench trial in a breach of contract case, and many favorable settlements of commercial disputes and legal malpractice cases.

Mr. Abrams received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1995 where he was an Olin Fellow of Law and Economics. He is a member of The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where he served on the Professional Responsibility Committee and the Subcommittee on Lawyer Promotion and Advertising from 2004-2007. He is a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York, Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit United States Court of Appeals, and Tenth Circuit United States Court of Appeals. 


Michael J. L.

Another excellent presentation, Mr. Abrams. I still have very substantial reservations about "advance waivers of conflicts." This has been around for about 15 years and is purely a money grabbing gambit by super-humungous firms (2,000+) because of internal money/politics issues. A waiver is a knowing relinquishment of a right. Everyone I know who claims to be clairvoyant is either a nut case or a fraud. Why should large firms get a pass on conflicts? Whatever happened to a lawyer's duty of "undivided loyalty"? I may be very old fashioned, but if a lawyer isn't as pure as Caesor's Wife, he/she ought to have that as an aspirational value! Mike Levin

Matthew K.

Excellent presentation. Thank you.

Laurie R.

Very clear. Very good

Steven R.

very helpful

Marcia C.


Maribel F.

Very good presenter and materials.

Julie A. B.

Genuine and interesting speaker offers significant practice pointers.

Linda C.

I love your courses, they are perfect for a sole practitioner without a lot of resources to attend classes in person, thanks

Kushal M.

good the hour and change went quickly

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