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Fees must be earned

We hold that an attorney earns fees only by conferring a benefit on or performing a legal service for the client.
Unless the attorney provides some benefit or service in exchange for the fee, the attorney has not earned any
fees and, with a possible exception in very limited circumstances, the attorney cannot treat advance fees as
her property.
When is the best time to agree on the attorney’s fees?
As regards his professional fees, we stress that the proper time to deal with this delicate issue is upon the
commencement of the lawyer-client relationship. xxx Such prudence would have spared the Court this
controversy over a lawyer's compensation, a suit that should be avoided except to prevent imposition,
injustice or fraud. - Dolores Silva vda. de Fajardo v. Atty. Rexie Efren A. Bugaring, A.C. NO. 5113, October 7,
“Fee” v. “Lien”
They are two different matters.
It is axiomatic, of course, that [lawyer] must show that he is or will become entitled to a fee before he is
entitled to a lien. - The Industry Network System, Inc. v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc. 54 F.3d 150 (1995)
Acceptance fee
An acceptance fee is not a contingent fee, but is an absolute fee arrangement which entitles a lawyer to get
paid for his efforts regardless of the outcome of the litigation. - Yu v. Bondal, A.C. No. 5534, January 17, 2005
On the other hand, acceptance fee refers to the charge imposed by the lawyer for merely accepting the
case. This is because once the lawyer agrees to represent a client, he is precluded from handling cases of the
opposing party based on the prohibition on conflict of interest. Thus, the incurs an opportunity cost by merely
accepting the case of the client which is therefore indemnified by the payment of acceptance fee. Since the
acceptance fee only seeks to compensate the lawyer for the lost opportunity, it is not measured by
the nature and extent of the legal services rendered. – Dalupan v. Gacott, A.C. No. 5067, June 29, 2015

Professional fee is subject to court’s regulatory power

Upon taking his attorney’s oath as an officer of the court, a lawyer submits himself to the authority of
the courts to regulate his right to charge professional fees. –Rayos v. Atty. Hernandez, G.R. No. 169079,
February 12, 2007

Reasons why lawyer’s compensation is subject to the supervision of the court

It follows that a lawyer’s compensation for professional services rendered is subject to the supervision of the
court, not just to guarantee that the fees he charges and receives remain reasonable and commensurate with
the services rendered, but also to maintain the dignity and integrity of the legal profession to which he
belongs. – Rayos v. Atty. Hernandez, G.R. No. 169079, February 12, 2007
Collection suit should be the last resort