Maryland’s Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation has promulgated new regulations within the Code of Maryland Regulation (COMAR) regarding the maximum fees and related procedures for attorneys representing workers in unemployment appeals.
Under the new rules, an attorney may charge up to two times the weekly benefit amount of the worker (Claimant), and need not obtain administrative pre-approval for any part of that fee for handling an appeal hearing and preparation. An attorney may charge more than that amount only with approval of the Unemployment Division for good cause shown. I (Godfrey) had occasion to speak with the Chief Hearing Examiner this past week to confirm these regulations; she emphasized to me in our telephone conversation that the new regulations were designed to increase supply for Claimants seeking legal counsel but that fees over two times the weekly benefit would be granted only in truly exceptional circumstances.
This new regulation will have a minimal impact on my clients’ fees; though some cases that run unusually long or involve exceptionally complex evidence might justify a fee closer to the maximum of 2x the weekly benefit. The main impact will be to enable my practice to offer flat fees more easily to clients who prefer a flat fee, and to avoid the cost and time of pre-submitting client bills to the government for approval by simply sending them to my clients as I do in all other cases in the ordinary course of professional services.