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Friday, April 15, 2005

Divorce Lawyers Abuse Act

Well, it seems that it's not all wine and roses between domestic relations lawyers and the Tennessee legislature. (See Divorce Lawyers' Relief Act). The legislature has two bills pending that would require domestic relations lawyers (and only domestic relations lawyers) to make certain disclosures to their clients:
(1) A statement of rights and responsibilities describing that party'’s financial obligations to the attorney and his or her general rights and responsibilities in pursuing the representation; and

(2) A good faith estimate of the charges that the party is likely to incur as the attorney pursues the representation.
The Nashville Bar Association has officially come out against this proposal:
Be resolved that the Nashville Bar Association objects to the passage of Senate Bill 0033 and House Bill 1231. It is a bill which is prejudicial to the administration of justice; it is directed only at domestic relations lawsuits; and the protections it purports to offer are not necessary in light of the regulations imposed upon members of the bar of the State of Tennessee by the Supreme Court of the State of Tennessee and the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5, Fees.

Wherefore, the Nashville Bar Association strongly recommends against passage of this act.
Talk about a can of worms. I wonder if the bills' sponsors have any suggestions about how to estimate the charges that a client is likely to incur. Maybe they could create a statutory presumption that the cost of the representation will be the size of the marital estate times the number of children divided by the year of the marriage plus the weight of the couple's tax returns divided by the square root of opposing counsel's caseload.

Related Links: House Bill Senate Bill