The fiduciary nature of the relationship between lawyers and their clients is one of the cornerstones of the practice of law. This fiduciary duty means that lawyers are obligated to provide complete disclosure about financial matters and be prepared to talk about them with their clients (section 3.6-1 and commentary). Section 3.6-1 also provides that the fees that are charged and accepted must be fair and reasonable.
Services completed by a lawyer should be identified as fees for the purpose of billing whereas services done by third parties should be identified as disbursements. It does not matter if the lawyer performs a function that could be done by a third party (e.g. title search) – work done by the lawyer should be billed as legal fees.
What constitutes a reasonable fee depends on the circumstances. Factors such as time and effort spent on the file, difficulty of the matter, importance of the matter to the client, whether special skill has been required and the results obtained may be considered. For a more complete list, see section 3.6-1 commentary .
Reasonable Fees and Disbursements: section 3.6-1 (Code of Professional Conduct)
Maintenance of Records: rule 5.02 (Law Society Rules)
(Posted: June 12, 2020)