An Unconventional Fee Arrangement

Aamer Razi hired attorney Edwin Sigel to represent him in connection with criminal charges brought against him.  Sigel, concerned that Razi would not be able to pay his bills, worked out a deal in which Razi signed a power of attorney appointing Sigel as his agent generally, including over all matters regarding his residence condominium.  Sigel then transferred the condo to himself as trustee.  Apparently, the parties had different understandings of this arrangement: Sigel believed it was to provide security for Razi’s legal fees, while Razi thought Sigel was just going to take care of the condo.  After Razi fired Sigel and refused to pay his bills, Sigel sold the condo.

Razi then sued Sigel for breach of fiduciary duty and conversion, and moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. Sigel appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because fact issues existed regarding whether Sigel explained that Razi was in effect signing over his condo as collateral.

Sigel v. Razi

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