I would like to stress several important points for the purpose of clarification.
1) The trial was NOT for a Civil Rights case, has it bean I would have no complaints as anyone reasonable will know that larger amount of time is involved and therefore need s to be paid. The issue at hand was for a juvenile dependency matter that was until that point handled by County appointed attorney. Because she was a pregnant women scheduled to deliver a baby right before the trial, replacement was necessary for the next hearing (trial). The trila in this matter was more like an Unlawful Detainer trial, short and simple. On one side you have County Social workers filing distorted and fraudulent reports and on the other side your attorney is daring them to prove their case by credible evidence they did not have. So this is the reason while in O.P. above I said "this was a fairly simple matter". Simetricaly, this is why the lawyer at question produced "the whole three pages" trial brief to summarize our position,... after reading material that could be read in fairly one to two hours.
He duped me into signing" while saying how he would like to take my - Civil Rights Case - on contingency bases, after the dependency case is disposed by dismissal.
Why I am sure of that, weeks after I met this lawyer I found a better known attorney in that field of dependency, from OC, who charged me $400.00 to read all the papers and render his opinion. He then said he wanted $1,000 to take the case and represent my wife in the same trial to work hand in glow with my lawyer, as every memebr of the family had to ahve separate lawyer, but this did not go through for two reason because the Lawyer1, with whom I had this fee problem, would not cooperate with this lawyer on the matter, or return his call/emails and then also, it turned out that there he had calendar conflict but this is less important. What's important is that he estimated the cost for the apperance on the trial to be $1,000 not $5,000 as I agreed to pay the first one. This leads me to leive that for the job rendered $5,000 was suficient if noit very good compensation.
2. Back to the contract. It is a 12 pages "Attorney Client Fee Agreement" that says under the (same) section, but second paragraph of the section titled "DEPOSITS AND FEES AND COST", that he is giving me discounted rate of $250/hr and that I should pay $5,000 "retainer/deposit". But then in the same section's first paragraph the contracts still reads that I agreed to pay $7,500.00 no later than at the time the agreement is signed, point being there are conflicts within paragraphs of the same section of the contract which to anyone will be confusing at best.
In the same conflicting and confusing manner, on page one under MANNER OF BILLING it says that the rate is $395.00r which contradicts what the contract says on the page 3. On that page the contracts reads ... "Once the trial, mediation and arbitration date is set, Client(s) shall pay in full all sums then owing to Attorney. ( No sumes were requested meaning I did not owe any), ... Additionally, Client(s) shell deposit the Attorney's fee estimated to be incurred in preparing for and completing the trial, mediation or arbitration, as well as the jury fees....and other cost likely to be incurred." - But no such additional fees were requested meaning there was no money owed at time before the trial. Plus, no estimates fo cost was offered further making me bleive that I paid the fees in full.
Further, in the same paragraph it says...."Deposit required to cover estimated attorney's fees, etcetera, may exceed any maximum deposit for security previously paid by Clients(s), or the maximum deposit for security described in the foregoing paragraphs." - I never received estimated attorney's fees and I contend that no more fees were due because the attorney representation is that my matter is simple and easy case and I was led to believe that $5,000 will be all I have to pay. In addition to that I wrote the letter expressing my wish to cancel the agreement unless the same is changed as described below. - Yet, two monts later he is asking for $22,000 more so I wonder how is that reasonable?
The fee agreement says further in the pertinent parts:
"Though not in consideration for Client's initial non-refundable retainer fee, Attorney agrees to credit Client with payment for [...her he did some scratching that altered original writing that credit Client for 23 Hours of work for $7,500 retainer..] and by hand he wrote "Client may pay $5,000 RETAINER ½ -$2,500 NOW AND ½ $2,500 BY Feb 7, 2011. Unless this retainer payment is a flat fee for all services to be provided by Attorney to Client(s) under this agreement, Clinet(s) acknowledge that intial retainer/deposit does not represent an estimate of payment of the total fees and the cost for which Clinet(s) will ultimately be responsible to Attorney, but merely a payment made for purpose of securing Attorney's servicer as stated above."
"The Attorney reserves the right to demand reasonable deposit for security, for payments by attorney of Client's cost and/or for Attorney's fees. Attorney shell require, and Clinet shell be required to pay subsequent deposit for security whenever any deposit for security is exhausted, each up to a maximum of $10,000 before trial, mediation or arbitration date is set."
Again, "he" never required (asked for) any more money before the trial but is now asking $22,000 more without ever providing any esotmate of cost, and is for example billing me, 2hr of intial consultations which supposed to be free and which took place before I signed the contract, and for reading emails (in which I send him my research relative to Civil Rights case), giving the stated interest to take this case after dependency case trilal on contingency bases. He is charging me nearly 10hr for prepairing three pages brief and 5hr for filling up 10 subpoenas in pdf format that require only changes on party's name, which takes only minutes. he is also charging me 7hr for appearing in Court for only one hour when the minor's counsle could not attned because she broke her leg. Issue of overbilling is thus another issue that speaks voluems about his ethics.
Have I known that he used promiss to take Civil Rights Case on contigency, and that he only said thT to dupe me into signing the contract, I would not send him those emails or sign his contract. This was sad to build the trust and increase the value of the service that did not come.
. Besides, as the record shows, "he" just ignored my question stated in my emails and never responded to any of them - yet he is billing me for "reading" those emails. So how do you know he ever read them? "He" only contacted me two day before the trial so is it legitimate to charge me to "allegedly" read my email and then ignore my legtiamte question is same?
3. I was convinced during the hiring, based on his verbal representations, that I can only pay total of $5,000 and I stated this in my letter when I furnished the $2,350.00 check as second and final payment before trial. When in contrary to waht is says in the contract he never send em a montly bill, I was further convinced that our understandng is clear after intial contact, dispute and the letter in which I asserted the righ to cancel the contract if he does not agree that $5,000 is my final payment of "flat fees". My letter also said that if this is not accpetable, both, the attached check and the first payment, including overpayonet shel be returend immediatly. He and his partner chose to cash the check.
4. Furthwermore, speaking of malpractice, my requests for documents filed with the Court was ignored during the course of representation. If my wife's county appointed attrney did not send us copies of filed documents we would have "none" to show for now. "He" also faild to appear in Court on one of the follow up dispostion hearings, he at that point send me substitution of attorney's form to return to hkim, which I did. Then on the next hearing he appeared and thereafter claimed he dissmised my case and I now owe him $22,000 according to updated bill, in time when no prior bill waas received. This is in my opinion further evidence of malpractice.