Benchmark Legal Agreement


1875 Century Park East, Suite 600 Los Angeles, CA 90067
P: 310-507-9085   F: 310-507-7052  E: rshahian@bmlfirm.com  W: bmlfirm.com

ATTORNEY-CLIENT FEE AGREEMENT

This is the written fee agreement (“Agreement”) that California law requires attorneys to have with their clients. Benchmark Legal, P.C. (“Attorney”) will provide legal services to  (“Client”) on the terms set forth below. However, please note that your claims are governed by a statute of limitations that places a deadline by which any claims need to be filed.  In the event you do not retain our firm, we advise you to consult another attorney as soon as possible about the statute of limitations.

  1. CONDITIONS.  This Agreement will not take effect, and Attorneys will have no obligation to provide legal services, until Client returns a signed copy of this Agreement, and Attorneys sign in the area under “agreed and accepted.”
  2. SCOPE OF SERVICES.  Client hires Attorneys to provide legal services in the following matters: Representation regarding complaints that Client has against and/or its related entities regarding Client’s (“subject vehicle”).  Attorneys will take reasonable steps to keep Client informed on the progress and to respond to Client’s inquiries.
  3. RESPONSIBILITIES OF ATTORNEYS AND CLIENT.  Attorneys agree to provide legal services relating to Client’s dispute with   and/or any related entities. Attorneys agree to evaluate Client’s claims in order to determine, among other issues, whether Client’s claims are such that Attorneys wish to proceed with representation beyond an initial evaluation.  Appellate or other post-trial or post-arbitration legal work is not covered under this Agreement and shall require a separate agreement between the parties, if Attorneys so require. Client agrees to be truthful with Attorneys, to keep Attorneys informed of any information and developments that come to Client’s attention, including but not limited to any written or oral communication received from dealers or the manufacturer.  Client also agrees to cooperate fully with Attorneys by, among other things, providing Attorneys with all relevant information, witness contacts, and documents. Client further agrees to keep Attorneys advised of Client’s address, telephone number and whereabouts. Client also agrees to consult Attorneys and provide Attorneys with at least 30-days’ notice before returning or selling the subject vehicle. Client also agrees to preserve all documents related to the subject vehicle at issue in this matter. Client authorizes Attorneys to do whatever Attorneys deem advisable in this matter, including, without limitation, hiring investigators, paralegals, experts, outside or contract attorneys and any other services that Attorneys deem advisable on Client’s behalf.
  4. COSTS.  Client and Attorneys agree that Attorneys will advance all costs and expenses incurred in the matter.  Attorneys will recover its costs and expenses only if there is a recovery on behalf of the Client. Cost and expenses commonly include, court fees, jury fees, witness fees, service of process charges, court and deposition reporters’ fees, photocopying and reproduction costs, notary fees, messenger and other delivery fees, postage, deposition costs, travel costs including parking, mileage, transportation, meals, hotel costs, investigation expenses, consultant(s), expert witness(es), mediation, discovery referee and/or special master fees and other similar items.  If no recovery is obtained on behalf of the client, then Attorneys will not recover costs and expenses it has advanced on Client’s behalf.
  5. ATTORNEYS’ FEES- NO RECOVERY-NO FEE. If no recovery is obtained on behalf of Client, then Attorneys shall not be entitled to any legal fees. This is a contingency fee agreement which means that Attorneys shall be entitled to recover their fees and costs only if there is a recovery on behalf of the Client.  Client acknowledges that this is a contingency fee Agreement and that a contingency fee agreement is not set by law and is negotiable between Client and Attorneys. No settlement shall be made without the consent of Client. Attorneys shall be entitled to recover its fees only if there is a recovery on behalf of the Client whether by settlement, judgement or arbitration award. Client agrees that any statutory, contractual, or other attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses belong solely to the Attorneys.  Client also authorizes Attorneys to negotiate either a lump-sum settlement or settlement where damages and attorney’s fees are simultaneously or separately negotiated on Client’s behalf. The attorneys’ fees in this matter are based upon a contingency schedule. The contingency schedule is as follows:
    1. Actual Damages: For purposes of this Agreement, “actual damages” are Client’s recoverable out of pocket expenses incurred by Client relating to the subject vehicle, including payments made towards the purchase price of the vehicle, finance charges incurred and paid, taxes and license fees paid, paying the lienholder the balance of any loan due on the vehicle, plus any other recoverable out of pocket expense actually incurred and paid by the Client (e.g. towing fees during the course of litigation, rental car fees during the course of litigation or unreimbursed repairs), less the mileage offset for which client is responsible for under applicable law. Attorneys will not take a fee from any actual damages Client recovers.
    2. Additional Damages: In some instances Attorneys are able to recover additional damages above and beyond Client’s actual damages (“additional damages”). Examples of additional damages include prejudgment interest, civil penalties, punitive damages, waiver of mileage/use offset, waiver of 3rd party service contracts sold by the dealer, waiver of negative equity on a traded-in vehicle, and include any instance where the firm is able to obtain damages beyond Client’s actual damages.  Client agrees that where Attorneys obtain additional damages on Client’s behalf, 40% of those additional damages shall also be paid by Client to Benchmark Legal, P.C. only as attorney’s fees.
    3. Manufacturer/Dealer Paid Fees:  Under California’s consumer protection statutes, the manufacturer of the subject vehicle and sometimes the dealer are required to pay attorney’s fees and costs relating to the prosecution of Client’s lemon law and/or Client’s similar consumer protection claim(s) (“manufacturer/dealer fees”).  Manufacturer/dealer fees are not part of Client’s recovery.
      1. Attorneys, as part of prosecuting Client’s claims, charge on behalf of the Client, the manufacturer and/or dealer $4,500 for services rendered prior to the preparation of the Complaint, plus an additional $245.00 to $695.00 per hour for attorneys, $225 to $275 for law clerks, and $150 to $195 per hour for legal assistants, plus costs and expenses, for actual time expended from thereafter (or other fee as may be agreed upon between Attorneys and manufacturer and/or dealer).  Attorneys will negotiate these fees with the manufacturer and dealer as part of client’s settlement or, if necessary, bring a motion in court for an award of these fees following entry of judgment or other similar result in Client’s favor. In some instances, the manufacturer and/or dealer agrees to pay Attorneys a multiplier on the above-listed rates such that Attorneys’ fee paid by the manufacturer/dealer exceeds the ranges listed above.
  6. DELEGATION OF ATTORNEYS SERVICES AND FEE SHARING.  Client agrees that Attorneys may assign any lawyers associated with either firm to the Client’s matter.  Client also agrees that Attorneys may engage one or more outside or contract attorneys to perform services, and may share fees with them, whether hourly, contingent or otherwise, and that the hourly rates for time and services performed thereby will be consistent with the attorney hourly rates set forth above.  This division of fees will not increase the fees due under this Agreement should Attorneys obtain a recovery on behalf of Client. Furthermore, Benchmark and any other law firm’s associated relationship and their division of fees will not increase the fees due by Client under this Agreement should Attorneys obtain a recovery on behalf of Client.
  7. ATTORNEYS’ LIEN & POWER OF ATTORNEY.   No settlement shall be made without the consent of Client.  Client gives Attorneys full authority to select a mediator of Attorneys’ choosing to mediate Client’s matter.  Client agrees that as part of prosecuting Client’s claims, Attorneys are entitled to their full fees and costs and to secure payment to Attorneys of all sums due under this Agreement, including Sections 4 and 5 above, for services rendered and costs and expenses advanced, Client hereby grants Attorneys a lien on Client’s claim and any cause of action or lawsuit filed thereon, and to any recovery Client may obtain, by any forms of settlement, arbitration award or judgment. This lien authorizes Attorneys to deduct all fees, costs and expenses due under this Agreement from any settlement, arbitration award or judgment and to pay the balance to the Client. The effect of such a lien is that Attorneys can compel payment of fees and costs from any funds recovered on behalf of Client even if Attorneys have been discharged before the end of the case.  Whenever a judgment, arbitration award or settlement is obtained in this matter, the Client hereby gives power of attorney to Attorneys to sign in Client’s name to any dismissals, forms, checks, drafts, and other papers and to deposit the proceeds into the Attorneys’ trust account, and to distribute the funds in accordance with this Agreement.
  8. DISCHARGE BY CLIENT AND WITHDRAWAL BY ATTORNEYS.  Client may discharge Attorneys at any time and for any reasons upon written notice to Attorneys.  Such discharge shall not affect Client’s obligation to pay Attorneys’ costs, expenses and fees, whether hourly, contingent or otherwise only if the Client subsequently obtains any recovery from the subject matter of the litigation.  Attorneys may withdraw as counsel at any time and for any reason upon written notice to Client. Attorneys shall be entitled to recover all advanced costs and expenses as well as fees for work performed prior to withdrawal only if the Client subsequently obtains any recovery from the subject matter of the litigation.  Under no circumstances shall Attorneys be responsible for continuing legal services following withdrawal or for any costs incurred in connection with Client’s procurement of substitute legal counsel.
  9. DISCLAIMER OR GUARANTEE AND ESTIMATES.  Nothing in this Agreement and nothing in Attorneys’ statements to Client will be construed as a promise of guarantee about the outcome of this matter.  Attorneys makes no such promises or guarantees. Attorneys’ comments about the outcome of the matter are expressions of opinion only. Any estimate of the value of Client’s case given by Attorneys shall not be a guarantee.  Actual outcomes may vary from estimate given.
  10. BINDING ARBITRATION AGREEMENT AND CLASS ACTION WAIVER.
    1. CLIENT AND ATTORNEYS BOTH AGREE TO SUBMIT ANY AND ALL DISPUTES EACH MAY HAVE AGAINST THE OTHER ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THIS AGREEMENT, ATTORNEYS AND CLIENT’S RELATIONSHIP, ATTORNEYS’ FEES, EXPENSES, CHARGES, OR ATTORNEYS’ SERVICES (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO DISPUTES OR CLAIMS REGARDING ATTORNEYS’ FEES, EXPENSES, CHARGES, PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE, ERRORS OR OMISSIONS, BREACH OF CONTRACT, BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY, FRAUD, OR VIOLATION OF ANY STATUTE) TO BINDING INDIVIDUAL (SINGLE PARTY) ARBITRATION.  INTERPRETATION, ENFORCEMENT AND ANY PROCEEDINGS RELATING TO THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT ARE SUBJECT TO AND GOVERNED BY THE FEDERAL ARBITRATION ACT, 9 U.S.C. SECTION 1 ET SEQ, INCLUDING ANY CHALLENGES TO THE VALIDITY OR ENFORCEABILITY OF THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT ITSELF. ANY PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE ADMINISTERED IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA BY THE AMERICAN ARBITRATION ASSOCIATION (WWW.ADR.ORG). ANY DISPUTE CONCERNING THIS AGREEMENT, EITHER IN WHOLE OR IN PART—THE WAY IT WAS FORMED, ITS APPLICABILITY, MEANING, SCOPE, ENFORCEABILITY, OR ANY CLAIM THAT ALL OR SOME PART OF THIS ARBITRATION AGREEMENT IS VOID OR VOIDABLE—IS ALSO SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION UNDER THIS AGREEMENT AND SHALL BE DECIDED BY THE ARBITRATOR.  THIS MEANS THAT BOTH CLIENT AND ATTORNEYS ARE WAIVING THE RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY OR A JUDGE IN A COURT OF LAW ON ALL DISPUTES.  IF ANY PROVISION OF THIS AGREEMENT IS FOUND TO BE VOID OR UNENFORCEABLE, THEN THAT PROVISION OR PROVISIONS SHALL BE SEVERED AND THE REMAINDER OF THE AGREEMENT SHALL REMAIN IN EFFECT.  ANY DECISION BY THE ARBITRATOR SHALL BE SUBJECT TO APPEAL TO A SECOND ARBITRATOR WHO SHALL PROCEED, AS FAR AS PRACTICABLE, PURSUANT TO THE LAWS GOVERNING CIVIL APPEALS IN CALIFORNIA.
    2. CLASS ACTION WAIVER.  No arbitrator or court may order, permit, or certify a class action, representative action, private attorney general litigation, or consolidated arbitration concerning this Agreement, or relating to this Agreement, Attorneys and Client’s relationship, attorneys’ fees, expenses, charges, or attorneys’ services (including but not limited to disputes or claims regarding attorneys’ fees, expenses, charges, professional malpractice, errors or omissions, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, or violation of any statute). By signing this agreement, Client agrees he or she has waived the right to bring or participate in a class action, representative action, private attorney general litigation, or consolidated arbitration against Attorneys related to this Agreement or any other course of dealing between Attorneys and Client arising out of their attorney-client relationship.
    3. MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION ACT.  However, in any dispute subject to the jurisdiction of the State of California that solely concerns attorneys’ fees, costs, charges, or expenses, Client has the right to elect arbitration pursuant to the fee arbitration procedures of the State Bar of California pursuant to Business & Professions Code §6200 et seq. (“MFAA”).  If after receiving a notice of Client’s right to arbitrate, Client does not elect to proceed under the State Bar fee arbitration procedures by filing a request for fee arbitration within 30 days, any dispute over fees, charges, or expenses, must proceed to binding arbitration as described in subparagraph A above. If either Attorneys or Client choose to challenge an award issued pursuant to MFAA, said challenge is subject to binding arbitration as described in subparagraph A above.
    4. Client is encouraged to have an independent lawyer of Client’s choice review these arbitration provisions and class action waiver before signing this Agreement.
  11. CLIENT FILE. If Client does not request return of Client’s file at the conclusion of Client’s matter or other termination of the retention, Attorneys will retain the Client file for a period of three (3) years, after which Attorneys shall have the right to destroy the Client’s file in any manner that maintains the confidentiality of any confidential information contained therein, and without notice to Client.   Client shall have no legal right to claim any injury or damages against Attorneys for the destruction of any documents or other material included in Client’s file that are not required to be kept by us pursuant to California statute and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
  12. ENTIRE AGREEMENT.  This Agreement contains the entire Agreement of the parties.  No other agreement, statement, or promise made on or before the effective date of this Agreements will be binding on the parties.
  13. SEVERABILITY IN EVENT OF PARTIAL INVALIDITY.  If any provision of this Agreement is held in whole or in part to be unenforceable for any reason, the remainder of that provision and of the entire Agreement will be severable and remain in effect.
  14. GENERAL PROVISIONS. This Agreement sets forth the full understanding between the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior understandings, written, unwritten, or implied.  Client acknowledges independent counsel may be retained to advise Client regarding the terms and conditions set forth herein. This Agreement may not be amended or modified, and no provision of this Agreement may be waived, except by a written document executed by the party against whom any such amendment, modification, or waiver would be enforced.  The parties intend that this Agreement shall be interpreted and enforced to carry out its intent. This Agreement shall not be construed strictly against the drafter hereof. Counterparts, facsimile and e-mail copies of this Agreement shall be binding.
  15. RIGHT TO INDEPENDENT COUNSEL. Your execution of this Agreement confirms that you have had a reasonable opportunity to seek the advice of an attorney outside of the Firm regarding the terms and conditions of this Agreement, including but not limited to the lien and security interest you are granting us pursuant to Section 7 above and the arbitration provision pursuant to Section 10 above.

If this entire Agreement, meets with your approval, please sign below at your earliest convenience.

NOTICE:  THIS RETAINER AGREEMENT IS INTENDED FOR THE USE OF THE SPECIFIC INDIVIDUAL OR ENTITY TO WHICH IT IS ADDRESSED AND MAY CONTAIN INFORMATION THAT IS PRIVILEGED, CONFIDENTIAL AND EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE UNDER APPLICABLE LAWS.  NO PERMISSION IS GRANTED FOR DISTRIBUTION.

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Benchmark Legal P.C. https://refundmycar.com
Signature Certificate
Document name: Benchmark Legal Agreement
Unique Document ID: 19de131a86793cf5d6f1a03f2b28fd150a5355ab
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February 13, 2019 10:36 am PDTBenchmark Legal Agreement Uploaded by Ramtin Shahian - rshahian@bmlfirm.com IP 68.224.135.105

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