New Members Division E-News

April 2014

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by Greg McLawsen & Deborah Niedermeyer I mmigration attorneys have become leaders in the use of flat fee billing. Increasingly, lawyers in other areas of practice have recognized that flat fees provide a value to consumers while simultaneously sparing attorneys the drudgery of tracking their lives in six- minute increments. In some states, lawyers are not required to use trust accounting for flat fees, which avoids another headache for lawyers. Or does it? Traditionally, flat fees have been treated like other legal fees: If the full scope of work has not been performed, any funds advanced by the client must be kept in a trust account. Some jurisdictions, including our home state Washington, take a different approach: funds paid toward a flat fee become attorney property at the time they are paid, and trust accounting is not required. Indeed, in some of these jurisdictions, flat fee funds cannot be placed into a trust account, to avoid comingling of funds. (If you don't know which approach your jurisdiction takes, find out!) e nontraditional approach may sound like a welcome simplification, but there is a major caveat: Even though the fee becomes lawyer property upon receipt, the client may be entitled to a partial refund if the full scope of work is not completed. is holds even if the work is not completed due to an uncooperative client, or if the client choses to terminate representation. In such situations Flat Fees: Know What's Yours To Keep CONTINUED on pg.2 >> u ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS: Affirmative Asylum 3 Site Visits for L-1 Employers 4 The Demise of DOMA 6 1 YOUR NEW MEMBER RESOURCES: InfoNet NMD Page Mentor Directory ! ? Message Center Newsletter Archive NMD Listserve New Member Events New Members Division E-News April 2014 American Immigration Lawyers Association A I L A A N N UA L C O N F E R E N C E Join us in Boston on June 18–21 for the largest gathering of the immigration law community each year! Early bird registration ends April 23 so hurry! + REGISTER

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