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Anne_C, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 2302
Experience:  Business litigator, 15 years' experience
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I hired an attorney to defend me in a libel/slander suit.

Resolved Question:

I hired an attorney to defend me in a libel/slander suit. Although, I have won a verdict against the plaintiff, I am unable to collect my attorney''s fees. My attorney billed me excessively and now he refused to present an argument of why I should be compensated for my attorney''s fees. He told me that whatever the tenative ruling will be on the recovery of fees, I will have to live with it. I still am obligated to pay his fees no matter what the outcome will be. I had paid him approximately 47,000.00 in defending this case. Can I relief him from this case and represent myself at the hearing?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Anne_C replied 8 years ago.


What state are you in?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Expert:  Anne_C replied 8 years ago.


Thank you for the additional information.

I am afraid that I have bad news for you: there's no statutory right to attorneys' fees in California. (There are some exceptions -- for example, if the case arose under Business & Professions Code Section 17200, attorneys' fees are available by statute.) This is actually commonly referred to as the "American Rule", where each party bears their own fees. Sometimes, if there is a contractual relationship between the parties, there is a right to attorneys' fees that is drafted into the contract. That would mean, for example, if you were sued for breach of contract and won, you could get attorneys' fees.

Your attorney could make a Motion for Attorneys' fees, but unless a contract was involved or a particular statute that allows the recovery of attorneys' fees, the Court would find you won't be able to recover them. You would be able to recover costs - for example, filing fees, court reporter fees for depositions, copy costs, jury fees, and court reporter's trial fees. Those costs wouldn't include your attorneys' fees for the time he spent, however.

To answer the second part of your question, you could terminate his services and represent yourself. You would need to file a substitution of attorney, which both you and your attorney would sign. Your retainer agreement should outline your attorney's particular procedures for terminating your relationship.

I'm sorry I don't have better news for you.

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