In a recent published decision from the Arizona Court of Appeals, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of a legal malpractice case successfully defended by Attorney Michele G. Thompson in which the plaintiff/attorney sought to recover his attorneys’ fees without a written contingent fee agreement. The Court of Appeals (Div. 1) upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the action, holding that “in the absence of a written contingent fee agreement, an attorney may not recover the quantum meruit value of his services because unwritten contingent fee agreements are void as against public policy.” Although the ethical rules require attorneys to enter into written fee agreements with their clients, this decision makes clear that without such an agreement the attorney cannot recover his/her fees based on a theory of unjust enrichment. “In the absence of a written contingent fee agreement, an attorney should anticipate that work done in violation of [Ethical Rule] 1.5(c) is being undertaken without any meaningful expectation of compensation.” This decision protects both clients and attorneys and stresses the importance of obtaining a signed written contingent fee agreement before undertaking representation. A full copy of the Court’s decision can be found at:

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