Tampa attorney Natalie K. Khawam has been publicly reprimanded following a Jan. 11 Florida Supreme Court order over allegations she charged a client excessive fees, according to a recent announcement by The Florida Bar.
"Khawam charged a client excessive fees for representation," the state bar said in its Feb. 27 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "After preparing and filing an initial brief and related documents with the trial court, she billed the client for $95,000 and collected $65,000. The client terminated Khawam's services after the initial filing. She had charged an hourly rate of $400 for herself and for law clerks at her firm, who had completed law school but had not yet been admitted to the bar."
In its single-page order, the state high court approved an uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before reprimanding Khawam and ordered her to pay a little more than $1,489 in costs.
Khawam was admitted to the Florida bar Sept. 26, 2006, according to her profile at the state bar website. No prior discipline before the state bar is listed on Jenkins' state bar profile.
Khawam represented the client on his appeal in a civil matter before Florida's Second District Court of Appeal after he had been represented by other counsel during trial, according to the consent judgment filed with the court. The consent judgment also includes Khawam's conditional guilty plea.
Khawam filed the initial appeals and other related documents, by which time she had charged the allegedly excessive fees, according to the consent judgment. After the initial filings, the client terminated Khawam's legal services, according to the consent judgment.
Khawam maintained she did not bill the client for all of her time and services but she did enter a guilty plea to violating a state bar rule regarding excessive fees, according to the judgment.
Khawam also agreed to fee arbitration with her former client unless they reach a fee agreement within 90 days of the final order in the matter, the consent judgment said. Khawam agreed to be bound by the arbitrator's decision and make payment in full should an award be given to her former client, according to the judgment.