Elements of Nevada's Theories of Liability

Attorney liens

General

“In Nevada, there are two types of liens an attorney may hold to ensure that clients pay their attorney’s fees: (1) a special or charging lien on the judgment or settlement the attorney has obtained for the client, NRS 18.015(1); Morse v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 65 Nev. 275, 281, 195 P.2d 199, 202 (1948); and

(2) a general or retaining lien that entitles an attorney, if discharged by the client, to retain the client’s papers, property or money until a court, at the request of the client, requires the attorney to deliver the retained items upon the client’s furnishing of payment or security for the attorney’s fees.Morse v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 65 Nev. 275, 281, 286, 195 P.2d 199, 202, 204″
Figliuzzi v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court In and For County of Clark, 111 Nev. 338, 342, 890 P.2d 798, 801 (1995).

Elements

  • Special or Charging Liens:
    • A client places a claim, demand or cause of action (including a claim for unliquidated damages) into the hands of an attorney for suit or collection
    • The attorney successfully obtains a judgment, settlement, collection, ect., for the client
    • The attorney then has a lien on the proceeds of the judgment, settlement, or collection for:
      • The amount of the fee agreed upon by the client and attorney, or
      • If no fee agreement exists, for the reasonable value of the attorney’s services

NRS 18.015.

Example Cases

Figliuzzi v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court In and For County of Clark, 111 Nev. 338, 342, 890 P.2d 798, 801 (1995).

Morse v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 65 Nev. 275, 821, 195 P.2d 199, 202 (1948).

NRS 65.275

Proof

Damages

Defenses

Misc

  • An attorney at law shall have a lien upon any claim, demand or cause of action, including any claim for unliquidated damages, which has been placed in his hands by a client for suit or collection, or upon which a suit or other action has been instituted. The lien is for the amount of any fee which has been agreed upon by the attorney and client. In the absence of an agreement, the lien is for a reasonable fee for the services which the attorney has rendered for the client on account of the suit, claim, demand or action.
    NRS 18.015.
  • We further conclude that when a client enters into an independent retainer agreement with a forensic accountant for accounting services in furtherance of the client’s litigation, the attorney is not responsible for the accountant’s fees under the principal theory enunciated in Molezzo, and the attorney cannot claim the forensic accountant’s unpaid fees as costs in his attorney’s lien.
    Bero-Wachs v. Law Office of Logar & Pulver, 123 Nev. 71, 157 P.3d 704, 709 (2007).
  • The attorney’s right is not based upon (or limited to) his lien. It is based upon contract express or implied. The lien, as is true of other forms of lien, is but security for his right. To hold that an attorney’s right to compensation is limited to his lien rights is in effect to deprive him of any right to contract for other than a contingent fee, since no fee contract could ever be enforced save in event of a successful recovery to which a lien might attach.
    Gordon v. Stewart, 74 Nev. 115, 117, 324 P.2d 234, 235 (1958).