Michael R. Caryl P.S.

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

What Our Clients Say

“If you’re looking for the right attorney to solve a fee dispute, you found him. Between 2004 and 2011, I was the litigation manager of a construction defect lawsuit for a homeowner’s association in the Seattle area. We were represented in the condo defect litigation by a Seattle law firm. Due to their failure to work up our case properly and honor our litigation objectives, they were replaced by another law firm that completed the job.

The terminated lawyers asserted a grossly unreasonable attorney’s lien for legal services and sued us. We retained Mike Caryl to represent us in this very complex fee dispute case that progressed through a 5-week trial. Millions were at stake for us. Initially, Mike defeated a summary motion based on the doctrine of substantial performance, and then guided us through the procedures of litigating disputed attorney’s fees and attorney’s liens. At the end of a lengthy and rancorous trial, we won everything. Mike was able to obtain from our trial judge, very detailed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, together with an award of our attorney’s fees and costs against the terminated law firm of nearly $500,000. The total value of our recovery was about $2 million. We subsequently prevailed on multiple rounds of appeal, primarily on the strength of Mike’s Findings and Conclusions.

It is extremely rare to find an attorney with the depth of trial experience that Mike has. Consequently, it in my opinion that there is nobody better at disputed fee litigation than Mike Caryl. In our case, Mike’s instincts were right on. He is afraid of nothing and nobody. He knows the law of disputed fees and court procedures inside out. Mike’s grasp of the facts in our case was so comprehensive that nothing got by him. He develops every angle of the facts, cuts no corners, and works like a dog to stay on top of everything. Mike is a very pragmatic thinker and knows so much that he can synthesize any situation within the law and come up with the most practical of solutions. We believe Mike Caryl is the pre-eminent expert on attorney fees and ethical aspects of lawyer’s fees in Washington. You will be in the best of hands with this very professional lawyer.“

– Linda Gillman, Litigation Manager, Meadow Valley Owner’s Association, 2013

“Michael – I am very glad that we selected you as our mediator in this very difficult case. Strong feelings made what was already a challenging case even more difficult. You stuck with the process all day until we finally reached agreement, and then navigated us through the process of getting the written agreement signed in the early evening. We would never have reached an agreement without you.”

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

“I was involved in a protracted, complex case in which, as prevailing party, my client was entitled to reasonable fees and costs in a partial contingency case. I hired Michael to review my billings and my work product for the four years the case had been pending. Michael produced a detailed 45-page declaration that I attached to my fees and costs application. His declaration analyzed, in detail, my billings, my work product and the results I had obtained in the case. I filed Michael’s declaration with my opening brief on fees and costs. Two weeks after I filed my opening brief and Michael’s declaration, the opposing side contacted me about settlement of the fees and costs issue. A week later, the fees and costs issue was settled on terms very favorable to my client with the payment of $390,000. Without Michael’s involvement, I am certain that I would still be litigating over fees and costs issue in my case. I will most certainly use Michael again in future fee-shifting cases.”

– Joe Evans, Attorney, Bremerton, Washington

“I had become embroiled in an unnecessarily messy expensive probate case after my husband unexpectedly died at the age of 46. Upon conducting a search for a lawyer specializing in all matters involving disputed lawyers’ fees, I was very lucky to find Michael Caryl. A contributor to legal journals and an expert witness in fee dispute cases, Mr. Caryl provided excellent advice. Moreover, he was cost- conscious, caring, efficient and exuded the utmost professionalism. His representation of my case has saved me and my young family, and helped us to move forward with our lives.”

– Katherine M., lay client, 2012

“I am a practicing personal injury attorney. I became involved in a dispute over my father’s estate and hired probate counsel who was completely ineffective because the tasks performed had little or nothing to do with pursuing the agreed-upon strategy of the case. Moreover, two attorneys were assigned to the case, each duplicating the other’s tasks, most of which could have been performed by secretaries or paralegals. The combined fee was in excess of $700 per hour.

Michael and I have had a long-standing mutual friend (a Washington super lawyer) who made the referral. Mr. Caryl’s representation was exemplary from the very beginning. After our initial interview, I handed Mr. Caryl my file which was more than 12 inches thick. Within two days, he had my entire case analyzed and he prepared recommendations for proceeding. He sent out a settlement demand and, shortly thereafter, the attorney’s fee issue was resolved for less than 20% of the claimed value.

I do not believe my probate counsel was particularly pleased to hear from Mr. Caryl, if for no other reason than because of his reputation. Needless to say, Mr. Caryl’s fees were more than reasonable, unlike my probate counsel.”

– Sumner, WA Attorney Paul Ruuska, 2012

“When I needed an expert on the value of legal services following a mandatory arbitration appeal, I turned to Mike Caryl’s office. I had known for years that his reputation as an expert witness was excellent but I had never worked directly with him. Mike thoroughly examined the information available to him and then prepared a well-reasoned explanation of the value of my services. Mike and his staff were very cooperative throughout the process. I would recommend Mike to anyone in need of an expert on issues related to the value of legal services.”

– Seattle attorney Doug Wilson, 2012

“Our office retained Mike Caryl as an attorney fee expert. Mike’s briefing and analysis were exhaustive and of excellent quality. Having the benefit of his knowledge gave our client a distinct advantage going into a hearing on an attorney fee dispute. The court found his opinion and supporting citations to be well presented, comprehensive, authoritative, and persuasive. Exactly what you want in an expert on any topic!”

– Glen Ferguson, Law Offices of Freise & Welchman, Seattle 2012

“Based on my professional dealings with Mike Caryl over the years, it is my opinion that Mike is the most experienced and knowledgeable attorney in the state on matters dealing with attorney fees. Mike and I have tried a case as co-counsel in a matter dealing with both malpractice and attorney fee issues. Mike’s performance was exemplary as to analysis, strategy and execution. I have additionally retained Mike on more than one occasion as an expert witness, including at least one matter that went to trial. His mastery of the substantive law and his common sense presentation made him a highly effective trial witness, as well as consultant on attorney fee and related issues, both at trial and for settlement purposes.”

– Sam B. Franklin, principal, Lee Smart, P.S., Inc., Seattle 2013

“I retained Mike several years ago to contest my divorce attorney fees, which were in the high $300,000+ range. I found Mike’s command of his particular area of expertise to be unparalleled. His instincts and timing with respect to working a case are uncanny. He successfully argued against summary judgment, and the opposing party ending up voluntarily reducing its fees and costs significantly during the proceedings. His cool demeanor was much appreciated in light of opposing counsel’s hostile behavior and aggressive motions and discovery practice.

I am in a profession where outside attorneys are used every day, and whenever a new one is retained, I send them a copy of Mike’s website “FAQs”. We have had very little problem with overcharging of fees and costs ever since. I find that many many attorneys do not understand, or choose not to follow, the ethical requirements of the Rules of Professional Conduct regarding attorney fees and costs. Mike has empowered me to assist my company in holding the line on attorney fees, and my company has saved untold thousands of dollars as a result of implementing Mike’s suggestions.

As they say in the medical profession, if you need a specialist, get the best one you can. The same would hold true for Mike in the arena of attorney’s fees and ethics issues involving attorney’s fees. I can think of no one as experienced and well-versed.”

– Satisfied Former Seattle Lay Client, 2010

“Mr. Caryl has the talent to straighten out unnecessarily expensive legal fees in a straightforward manner. He knows the leverage points, has an excellent expert witness network, and pulls together a comprehensive approach to dispute in a constructive manner. His exemplary work keeps the legal profession stringent and cost-effective.”

– Ruth Kunath, General Partner, Thompson River Capital

“Mike was well organized, persistent and methodical. He knew the law and all the experts in the field. He kept me appraised of his progress and made sure that we were communicating. The bottom line is that he was a rock when I needed it. In addition to that, he got us a great result.”

– Robert P. Schmitt, Law Office of Robert P. Schmitt, 2009

“Mr. Caryl is both a fierce advocate and a wise counselor, who instinctively knows the right course and how to get there most efficiently. The excellent result achieved for me was because of his determination to see justice done. His support and encouragement during difficult periods of the litigation made all the difference. His clients are in good hands.”

– Truman Castle, Freeland, Washington lay client, 2009

“Michael did a phenomenal job for me in a very difficult split from my prior firm. He is truly an expert in this and I knew we would prevail. Without his sound judgment and counsel, a bad situation would have simply continued to get worse. He was put in a position of having to become a teacher, and educate opposing counsel that knew little about the law applicable to attorney departures and fee splits. Michael is the sole reason my case had a positive outcome.”

– John M. Williams, Williams Law Offices PLLC

“Without any doubt, Mike Caryl is the “go-to” guy in Washington State in litigation over attorney fee disputes and for knowledge of the ethics and practicalities of charging fees and billing clients. As an attorney, I let a difficult client get behind on paying my fees. I hired Mike to collect the delinquent fees, despite his warnings that it would be expensive, nasty, difficult and protracted. It was all of those things. But in the end, Mike recovered the vast majority of the unpaid fees plus statutory interest, in the face of a determined foe and through an extended trial and two levels of appeal. Mike’s extensive knowledge of the law governing fees and his solid judgment, tenacity, organization and preparation all contributed greatly to our success. He delivered when it really counted.”

– Charles Kimbrough, Bellevue attorney, 2009

“We were referred to Michael R. Caryl for his services as an attorney who represents parties who were wronged or damaged by their attorney representing them.

Michael was a breath of fresh air. Professional and extremely knowledgeable. He jumped in to our fee dispute against our former attorney and it was handled in less than sixty days.

We then went after the malpractice claim and won that court case as well. And after 6 years since my father’s head injury there was a closure to the whole legal ordeal.

Our family couldn’t have been more impressed with Michael Caryl’s services and his results. I won’t say Mike has a big “S” on his chest, but it was very close!

Thank God for finding Michael Caryl.”

– Steve Breda, lay client, 2009

“I retained Mike to defend against an unspecified attorney’s lien in a contingent fee case that was moved from the prior lawyer due to personality conflict issues. Though the case was nowhere near any realistic resolution, the terminated attorney sought a significant contingency from what we were able to ultimately obtain via settlement. With Mike’s help and counsel, we were able to resolve the case for an amount that represented a reasonable hourly fee for the work actually performed and what turned out to be only a slight premium over our original offer. Quite simply, he is very, very good at what he does.”

– Rich Robinson, Seattle lawyer, 2009

“While the blush is still on the rose, I want to thank you again for an excellent job. I can’t think of a case that I have wanted to win more. You made that possible through an extraordinarily fine piece of lawyering.”

– Fred M. Zeder, Seattle lawyer, Peterson Young Fletcher Zeder, 1995

“As you will recall a few years ago you represented me in a legal fee dispute. It was my first time dealing with those issues. We went to arbitration and I felt you represented my interests at the highest level of expertise. Your legal pleadings and oral presentation were excellent.

“I recall another attorney saying “it’s not fair that Cunnane has Caryl on his side because Caryl knows more than I do.” Your superior knowledge was evident in the case. Hopefully, another legal fee dispute is not in my future, but if it is I have no hesitation in calling for your help.

I feel confident in recommending your services. And thank you for your outstanding representation.“

– Joseph Cunnane, Edmonds lawyer, 2011

“I engaged Michael Caryl in the arbitration of fee disgorgement matter. He was my client’s expert witness on the issue of the appropriateness and reasonableness of attorney fees charged to my client. The report was full of important information, well organized and to the point. He stated his opinions and backed them up with the appropriate law and rules of ethics and their applicability to the facts of our case, which he easily and completely absorbed. Most important of all, the report truly impressed the arbitrator. The opposing attorney was also an expert in this field in his own right. We were successful and I largely credit Michael’s fine work.

If you are looking for an expert in the field of attorney fees, without hesitation, I endorse Michael Caryl.“

– Ralph Maimon, Seattle lawyer, 2011

“Mike Caryl represented our firm in Taylor v. Shigaki establishing the right to a full contingent fee when we substantially performed the legal services that led to the settlement offers the client tried to exclude us from by firing us at the last minute and accepting the settlement pro se. Mike’s work at the trial and appellate level was excellent and relentless securing us a 100% victory. Since then we have relied on Mike for advice and representation in all matters related to professional relationships including case associations, sharing of fees and costs, fee agreements, shareholder rights, etc. He is the expert and I trust his judgment.”

– Jan Eric Peterson, Seattle attorney and principal, Peterson Young Putra, 2011

“Inquisitive, deliberate and thorough, Mike is a lawyer’s lawyer. I have worked with Mike in several capacities but most recently he served as an expert witness in a contentious fee dispute matter in which I was counsel. Our client was sued for hundreds of thousands in lawyer’s fees; we counterclaimed that the terrible result was occasioned by the law firm’s professional negligence. We hired Mike for his expertise in disputed legal fees and ethical issues relating to attorney’s fees and billing practices. I was impressed with Mike’s comprehensive approach and his ability to capture the minutiae of the matter. Mike worked diligently to understand every issue and offered careful, competent testimony about the reasonableness of the fees charged and ethical issues relating to billing and the handling of client funds. I heartily recommend Mike Caryl.”

– Sims Weymuller, Seattle attorney, Johnson Flora law firm, 2011

“Mike’s knowledge and experience in attorney fee issues sets him apart as an expert that the courts have listened to for guidance in setting attorney fee awards. Very few people have the breadth of knowledge, objectivity and credibility with the courts that Mike possesses. When Mike speaks, judges listen.”

– Scott Blair, Seattle lawyer, 2010

EACH CLIENT’S LEGAL MATTER IS UNIQUE. THESE TESTIMONIALS SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS AN ASSURANCE THAT SIMILAR RESULTS CAN BE OBTAINED. ADVANTAGEOUS RESOLUTION OF ANY LEGAL MATTER DEPENDS UPON ITS UNIQUE FACTS AND LEGAL ISSUES, AS WELL AS THE KNOWLEDGE, SKILL AND EXPERIENCE OF THE LAWYER.

“WASHINGTON’S RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT PROVIDE THAT A LAWYER SHALL NOT STATE OR IMPLY THAT THE LAWYER IS A SPECIALIST IN A PARTICULAR FIELD OF LAW (WITH NARROW EXCEPTIONS) . . .” ANY STATEMENT ABOVE BY A CLIENT OF MICHAEL CARYL THAT USES THE TERM SPECIALIST OR IMPLIES A SPECIALTY LAW PRACTICE REFLECTS THE SUBJECTIVE BELIEF OF THE CLIENT. NOR SHOULD ANY CLIENT STATEMENT ABOVE BE CONSIDERED AS ENDORSING MICHAEL CARYL AS AN “EXPERT” OTHER THAN IN HIS PRACTICE AS A RECOGNIZED EXPERT WITNESS IN THE AREA OF ATTORNEY’S FEES. WE DO NOT CLAIM THAT OUR OFFICE “SPECIALIZES” IN ANY FIELD OF LAW, OR THAT MICHAEL CARYL IS AN ‘EXPERT” OTHER THAN WHEN SERVING IN THE CAPACITY AS AN EXPERT WITNESS.

“While the blush is still on the rose, I want to thank you again for an excellent job. I can’t think of a case that I have wanted to win more. You made that possible through an extraordinarily fine piece of lawyering.”

– Fred M. Zeder of Peterson Young Putra, successful litigant in Taylor v. Shigaki, 1997