Agreement Between a Lawyer and a Client in the Virgin Islands

In Virgin Islands courts, Rule 1.5 of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct, made applicable pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 203, establishes the factors a court must consider when assessing the reasonableness of a contractual fee agreement between a lawyer and a client:

A lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses. The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;

(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;

(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent. (ABA Model R. Prof. Cond. 1.5(a).)

See also Krause v. Rhodes, 640 F.2d 214, 219 (6th Cir. 1981) (holding that eight factors found in ABA Code of Professional Responsibility govern whether a contingent fee agreement is reasonable).