Can You Charge Some Clients (Like This Guy) a Higher Hourly Rate?

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on April 30, 2019 11:57 AM

As lawyers, we all have had at least one client that made our skin crawl.

We all know who that is, too, but we won't admit it for ethical reasons -- or maybe financial reasons.

In any case, the question is, can you charge that guy a higher hourly rate? The answer is, of course! After all, you have to make more money if you are going to sell your soul.

Porn Collection Guy

Consider the Porn Collection Guy. If you don't know him, we apologize in advance for making the introduction. He made headlines recently because he sued his parents for trashing his porn collection. He says it was worth almost $30,000.

That has to be what tempted his lawyer. Attorneys are infamous for taking unpopular clients. They are also known to do almost anything for money. (We would like to dispel that belief, but that's not important right now.)

What's important depends on your point of view. Story-tellers think the Porn Collection Guy would make a good movie. Jimmy Kimmel thinks he would make a great one-liner. Lawyers think about hourly rates.

There is no rule against attorneys charging clients more for different types of work -- so long as it is not an "unconscionable fee." In California, for example, an unconscionable fee is determined by factors such as the "novelty and difficulty of the questions involved."

Novelty and Difficulty

If any case were novel, it has to be the case of the Porn Collection Guy. In addition to porn, it also involves sex toys. The parents allegedly threw out 12 moving boxes of porno and 2 boxes of the novelty toys.

The plaintiff's attorney will have a tough time with the case. Can you image the kind of expert testimony needed to place a valuation on collector porn and sex toys? New or used? And how difficult will it be to get a jury?

"By a raise of hand, who in jury pool has watched porn?"

And what about the media at the courthouse and the sneers of colleagues? Yes, you must charge more for that -- at least enough to buy a disguise and to take a very long vacation.

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