Michael R. Caryl P.S.

Attorney’s Fees Issues – Our Sole Focus (206) 378-4125

Mike’s Profile

Michael R. Caryl P.S. For forty-four years, Mike has represented clients in literally hundreds of civil and criminal trials and appeals, and in hundreds of other civil disputes that were resolved without recourse to the courts.

Mike’s legal career began with criminal work in the early 70’s. He served 4 years’ active duty as an Army J.A.G.C., including service in the Airborne at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he survived 16 parachute jumps, tried several hundred courts-martial, and later handled several hundred appeals before the Army Appellate Court and the Court of Military Appeals in Washington, D.C. After his release from active duty in the summer of 1976, Mike traveled west to do some mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies and to find a home in the Northwest in which to settle.

When his Seattle practice began in 1977, Mike focused on civil trial work including personal injury, commercial and construction litigation, collection work and insurance litigation. Since 1994, the principal concentration of Mike’s practice in Seattle has grown into representing and counseling lawyers, law firms and clients in attorney fee disputes. This practice developed out of his successful representation of Seattle attorney Fred Zeder and the law firm of Peterson Young Putra. Zeder prevailed after a successful 5-day trial, defeating an appeal to Division I of the Court of Appeals and a petition to the Supreme Court. Taylor v. Shigaki, 84 Wn. App. 723 (1997), pet. den. 132 Wn.2d 1009 (1997). The holding of this important case is that a client cannot defeat a contingency fee agreement by terminating the lawyer where the lawyer has substantially performed the contingency.

Since then, Mike developed a full time disputed fees practice representing both lay clients and lawyers involved in fee disputes. (Proven Results). This practice has grown into assisting lawyers and firms with the legal and financial implications of lawyers leaving their firms, as well as consulting with lawyers and law firms in developing effective, enforceable and ethical fee agreements and billing practices. His work over the past 22 years (What We Do) has established him as an objective authority, providing assistance to Northwest law firms and lay clients in their efforts to resolve difficult conflicts over fees. Until recently, Mike consulted on both legal malpractice and attorney discipline issues involving attorney’s fee issues. Up to the present, Mike has continued to serve as an expert witness in courts and arbitrations on attorney fee dispute matters. (What our Clients Say) Mike frequently speaks and writes (Publications & Presentations) on fees and ethics issues.

Mike has been admitted to practice in Washington State, Virginia and the District of Columbia. He received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center (1972) and his LL.M., with highest honors, from the National Law Center at George Washington University (1977). He has served on the Board of Governors of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (Now WSAJ), taught Litigation for Paralegals at City University in Seattle, and is the author/editor of Chapter 3, “Attorney’s Fees,” of the Washington State Bar Association’s Legal Ethics DeskBook. Mike and close friend and colleague Lee Raaen are the authors of the Chapter 3, “Attorney’s Fees,” of the Washington State Bar Association’s new Legal Ethics DeskBook, to be published in the summer of 2017.

Mike has held the highest rating available for lawyers from Martindale Hubbell, “AV,” since 1983 and “AV – Pre-eminent” since 2006. He was selected for Seattle’s Best Lawyers in 2013. Mike is married to Seattle employment lawyer Claire Cordon and they have three grown children.

In the summer of 2014, Mike and Claire relocated to a community north of Tucson, Arizona and both cut back substantially on their respective law practices. Effective January 2016, as part of his gradual partial retirement, Mike determined to cut back his practice, eliminating from his practice literally everything involving litigation of disputed attorney’s fees and advising clients on these subjects. Mike’s practice today is limited to serving as an expert witness in disputed fee cases and assisting with alternative dispute resolution, serving in the role of arbitrator or mediator of dispute attorney’s fees cases.

Curriculum Vitae

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Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent®

“Michael – I am very glad that we selected you as our mediator in this very difficult case. … You stuck with the process all day until we finally reached agreement …. We would never have reached an agreement without you.”

– Name withheld - President, Puget Sound region biotech company, 2013