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socrateaser, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 38440
Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate Broker -- Retired (mostly)
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Area of law; Attorney billing,deceit, ethics, ; Defendant

Customer Question

Area of law; Attorney billing,deceit, ethics,???; Defendant in foreclosure action breaks ties with former counsel and sets out to hire new counsel who defendant knows and feels confident counsel is knowledgeable in areas of law concerning defendants' case. (over 30 years exp.) After a couple of telephone conversations with new counsel ,a meeting is scheduled for further discussion . At the scheduled meeting counsel has another attorney ,with his firm sitting in on the meeting. Two more meetings were scheduled and at each meeting a different member of the firm was present. Initially there was a $5,000.00 retainer ,but no contract. The first order of importance was to have a motion for summary judgment ,by plaintiff, set aside. The hearing was in three weeks. There was discussion app. four days before the hearing as to fee schedules. It was verbally decided by counsel the $5,000.00 would get us through the summary judgment hearing ,although I felt this was high due to the amount of work product to to this point. It was also disclosed by counsel should he feel this be a favorable case he would handle it on contingency. Three days before the hearing I was given a engagement contract to sign. The attorney to be handling the case would be the attorney attending the first meeting with counsel I was to hire. ( subordinate). I was very displeased with this and told the senior attorney. The other counsel had just passed his bar in 2006 and had been practicing for only three years and not in this field. I was duped. There was nothing I could do at this time due to hearing in three days. After signing engagement contract,with all of it stipulations and contingencies I immediately received my first bill . It was for $9,000.00. I had been charged for every meeting with main counsel and a second counsel sitting in. Between 550-650.00 per hour. The billing of other counsel was spelled out in the contract I received after the fact,stating "sometimes" other counsel may be called in to assist in defense". He made the contract fit the circumstances which had already occurred. Depositions were set at the summary judgment hearing for just two weeks away. I was stuck with a inexperienced attorney ,going up against a major law firm with over 1m at stake. The attorney went on to take one deposition ,attend two (made some serious mistakes) for a total time of 5 hours. No hearings were transcribed. I was then billed another $4,000.00 making total to this point app. $19,000.00. During this time my elderly parents 83 and 89,one with dementia ,had a house fire and nearly a total loss. They had good insurance coverage where-as they were to receive app.$ 80,000.00 for personal belongings. I had another attorney in the firm review the insurance policy for my parents. Upon the senior atty. learning of this policy and proceeds to be awarded he demanded I have my parents assign the proceeds of their policy to further the litigation. I wanted to get as far away from what I then considered a crook,and in no way did I want this "kids" representation. After his demands he withdrew and is suing me for app. $14,000.00. Padding the bill doesn't begin to cover what this attorney does. What legal recourse do I have both personally and through another counsel if found. Could their be claims made by me other than I don't owe the bill. Claims for damages? or?? Thanks William
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 6 years ago.

See Florida RPC 4-1.5 Subsection (e). It's arguable as to whether or not the attorney's tricked you into paying for the billing of two attorneys simultaneously. Not giving you a contract, describing what you were likely to be billed, in my view is sanctionable, but there's discretion in the Rules sufficient to avoid the sanctions, unless the Bar finds the law firm's conduct egregious.


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Hope this helps.



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