Washington Ethics Opinion

Counsel Financial
July 18, 2016


State of Washington

The inquirer asks if it is ethical for a lawyer, in a contingency fee case, to charge interest on costs and expenses of litigation advanced on behalf of the client. The committee opined that a lawyer may, in representing a client on a contingency fee matter, provide in the written fee agreement at the commencement of the representation that costs advanced by the lawyer will accrue interest after a stated period from the date of advancement. The interest rate charged must be reasonable (RPC 1.5) and non-usurious.

Informal opinions are provided for the education of the Bar and reflect the opinion of the Rules of Professional Conduct Committee. Informal opinions are provided pursuant to the authorization granted by the Board of Governors, but are not individually approved by the Board and do not reflect the official opinion of the Bar association. Laws other than the Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct may apply to the inquiry. The committee’s answer does not include or opine about any other applicable law than the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Informal opinions are based upon facts of the inquiry as presented to the committee.

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