"It is proper for a lawyer to enter a flat fee agreement requiring a client to pay a fixed amount in advance of representation. The flat fee agreement must comport with the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. Under Prof.Cond.R. 1.15(c), a lawyer is required to deposit flat fees and expenses paid in advance for representation into an IOLTA account, unless designated as “earned upon receipt” or similarly, and only may withdraw the fees as they are earned or the expenses as they are incurred. This is a change from former DR 9-102(A). Even if a flat fee paid in advance of representation is deemed “earned upon receipt,” “nonrefundable,” or similarly, Prof.Cond.R. 1.5 requires a lawyer to return any unearned portion of the fee if the lawyer does not complete the representation for any reason. Additionally, the Rules also require that a flat fee must not be excessive under Prof.Cond.R. 1.5(a); that a lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client, aside from advances of court costs and expenses of litigation under Prof.Cond.R. 1.8(e); and a lawyer is required to provide competent and diligent representation to each client under Prof.Cond.R. 1.1 and 1.3."
Ohio Supreme Court Advisory Opinions can be found on the Court's Advisory Opinions page.