I am answering a Motion For Leave To Withdraw as Counsel For DebtorShort history: the law firm wants to drop me as client because I owe them money and don't have the means to pay. I owe the law firm money because they failed to give me basic sound bankruptcy advice and it led to Adversary Proceedings.What section of the law pertains to attorneys not getting paid because they failed to give basic sound legal advice?
State/Country relating to question: Pennsylvania
Are you available to chat?
I am more than happy to discuss this issue with you as soon as you are available.
Available at the moment
Are you still available?
First off, getting a leave to withdraw in a bankruptcy case is a very difficult thing. Once the law firm has filed your petition, it's not easy to get out of representing you.
However, I am wondering how their ineffective lead to you not being able to pay their fees? Did they charge you extra for the adversaial proceeding?
Yes, they did
Okay, how much did they charge you?
And have not sent me any invoices explaining the balance due
let me find the papers
What chapter did you file?
They charged you $3,400 for a Chapter 7, that is outlandish!!! How much for the Adversarial Proceeding?
let me clarify $3,462.22 representing post-petition fees and expenses that were not included as part of a simple uncontested bankruptcy
How much do they say you owe them?
$1,500.00 to file chapter 7 bankruptcy and
they say I owe $3,462.22
I have never heard of $3,462.00 for a chapter 7.
And I spent about $2500.00 in additional pre bankruptcy fees
What are pre-bankruptcy fees? You paid the law firm $2,500 before they filed?
It was the firms advice that lead to a contested bankruptcy
Yes, to help me with law suits from credit card companies
Do you have a copy of your petition available? Can you section where the law firm lists how much you paid for your bankruptcy fees?
Can you find the section . . .
Do the money go to the law firm to payments to the credit card companies?
Did the money go to the law firm or to payments to the credit card companies?
I have a copy of the petition available, they do not list the total amount I paid them
Sorry, my typing is a little off right now.
No money went to credit card companies
So is mine
All law firms must list the amount it charges for the bankruptcy. Usually it is toward the end of the petition.
I suppose I should list the total amount paid to the law firm to date in my response
The form is called "Statement disclosing compensation paid or to be paid to the attorney".
I would definitely list the amount of money you have paid them. No attorney should charge more than $1,600 to do a chapter 7, $1,800 at the most, and that is pretty high.
If you list the amount of money you have paid, and you show your receipts, I would state that you are under the impression that you have paid your fees in full. Do you have a written bankruptcy contract?
No form called "Statement disclosing compensation paid or to be paid to the attorney" is included with Motion.
Yes, let me get it
It should be in your original petition that you filed. Your attorneys have to file the statement, it is required.
there is a line that states...pursuant to the Disclosure of Attorney Compensation previously filed with this court by Debtor's counsel
Exactly, I bet you a million dollars the you have already paid more than the amount listed in the form filed with the court. In addition, if they charged you more for the Adversarial Proceeding, then they are required to file an amendment Statement Disclosing Compensation Paid with the court showing the additional payments. If not, then they have violated the rules.
I have to mail the answer on Monday, I don't know if they have filed an 'Amended Statement'
Answer is due tuesday
They should have mailed you a copy.
So here is what i would do if I were is a similar situation.
I file my answer, send it FedEX, to make sure it makes it on time. If you can, I would take it to the court directly, because you need to make sure it gets there on time. You can also file it online, but you would have to speak to the court to see about how to do it.
But, I would put in my answer that you have paid nearly $3,500 in attorney fees. The contract states that the firm would file the petition for a total of $1,800 (whatever the number is), and that you have paid it.
I make a copy of your contract, send a copy of your checks or receipts from the firm. I will further explain that you have never received a statement or invoice from the firm, and you do not know how much more you owe.
This is what my contract says:
That you have paid more than the contracted amount, and if they firm withdraws it will cause you irreversible harm because you do not have any more money to hire a new firm, and no firm would come in halfway into the proceedings anyway.
"irreparable harm" is the term of art to use.
This will confirm that you will be charged a fee of $1,500.00 for legal work, payable in advance, encompassing the following:
preparation and filing of the chapter 7 bankruptcy petition including the required schedules and statements: and
representation in bankruptcy court for any proceedings that are in the normal course of a chapter 7 bankruptcy. and
All other matters except those stated above, including, but not limited to, any post bankruptcy matters, filings and court proceedings are not included in this fee. and
Okay, if you include your contract, your payments, etc., the law firm will not be able to get out of your case. Please remember the term "irreparable harm" and use it in your answer. If you show those things, the court will not let them out of your case. You do not need to get too far into their bad advice, etc., unless you have time. But, according to their contract, they've already charged you too much.
This fee does not include any filing fees charged by the court
Yeah, but those are only like $299.00, you've already paid those.
Well, I have an appointment that I have to go to, do you have anymore questions?
Thank you for your advice, I have been working on this for two days, and will get this other stuff in there.
No problem, I think you're going to be okay. If you get that information in there, I don't see how the court will let them out.
I wish you the best of luck. If you have any follow up questions, feel free to ask me.
I have practiced bankruptcy law for 10 years. Have handled hundreds of cases.
fyi - my hearing date was today the judge granted the motion for my attorney to withdraw as my council based on my bankruptcy being discharged and that there were no bankruptcy litigation pending against me. The judge also question the need for a motion to be filed in the first place.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).