Ethics of Surcharges

The following ethics opinions have held that it is permissible for firms to charge clients more for a freelance attorney’s services than the rate paid to the freelance attorney: ABA Formal Op. 00-420 (2000); ABA Formal Op. 08-451 (2008); Va. Legal Ethics Op. 1735 (1999); Va. Legal Ethics Op. 1712 (1998); D.C. Legal Ethics Op. 284 (1990); Colo. Ethics Op. 105 (1999); Alaska Ethics Op. No. 96-1 (1996); S.C. Ethics Op. 10-08 (2010); Ohio Ethics Op. 2009-6 (2009). 

Note, however, that Texas and Maryland do not allow firms to add a surcharge to a freelance attorney’s fee. See Tex. Ethics Op. No. 577 (2007); Md. Ethics Op. 1992-19 (1992).

Before adding a surcharge to a freelance lawyer’s fees, a hiring firm should review the relevant local ethical rules and opinions to ensure compliance with its ethical obligations.



Lauren Hoff-Downing is a freelance attorney and does not represent individual clients. She provides legal research and writing services solely to other licensed attorneys. Lauren Hoff-Downing is only licensed to practice law in Florida and Pennsylvania, and is voluntarily inactive in Georgia. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.

Please review the full disclaimer for more information. 


Your privacy is important to Hoff-Downing Legal. Please review the privacy policy for more information. 

​​​​© 2019 by Hoff-Downing Legal. Proudly created with

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook