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In the Matter of Cooperman

83 N.Y.2d 465 (1994)

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In the Matter of Cooperman

New York Court of Appeals

83 N.Y.2d 465 (1994)

Facts

Attorney Edward Cooperman (defendant) used nonrefundable-retainer fee agreements with three clients. The first agreement provided that Cooperman’s minimum fee would not be refunded once Cooperman filed a notice of appearance on the client’s behalf. The second agreement stated that Cooperman would act as the client’s counsel for a certain minimum fee and nonrefundable amount and that the amount was the minimum fee no matter how much or how little work Cooperman did and was not refundable even if the client wished to discontinue Cooperman’s services. The third agreement set a minimum fee no matter how few court appearances Cooperman made and even if Cooperman was discharged. Cooperman was discharged by all three clients and refused to refund any portion of the fees. Cooperman was charged with professional misconduct in connection with his use of the agreements. The appellate division held that the agreements were per se violative of public policy and suspended Cooperman from the practice of law for two years. Cooperman appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bellacosa, J.)

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