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In September 2018, we addressed the Appellate Division’s opinion in Balducci v Cige, 456 NJ Super 219 (App. Div. 2018), affirming the trial court’s invalidation of a retainer agreement in a case under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The fee agreement provided that the client was responsible to pay the greatest amount of fees calculated on an hourly rate, or contingent fee and any statutory award, or fees awarded under the fee shifting. The Appellate Division found the agreement to be “problematic” because it was “ambiguous if not misleading.” The holding was based on the attorney’s failure to advise or inform the client about the “ramifications” of the agreement and the fact that the fee could approach or even exceed plaintiff’s recovery if any. The court pointed out that most retainers in LAD cases do not include an hourly rate and that if one is charged counsel must explain whether other attorneys were likely or willing to undertake the matter without the hourly component and that the client’s obligation to advance costs must be fully and completely disclosed.

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