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An important risk-management issue for lawyers involves ethically and effectively securing payment of unpaid fees from current or former clients. This issue is especially prevalent where there is a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship and the lawyer either withdraws from a representation or is discharged without cause by a client. In addition to a plenary action for damages, attorneys are vested with two significant remedies: (1) the statutory charging lien; and (2) the common-law retaining lien. Notably, an attorney may simultaneously pursue a plenary action, a charging lien and a retaining lien, as the three remedies are "not exclusive but cumulative."1 Determining which remedy is appropriate will often depend on the nature of the underlying case, the recovery sought in that action and the former client's ability to satisfy the outstanding legal fees.

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