This isn't really about real estate law. It's about a dispute with a real estate lawyer. I replaced him after the events I recount here.I hired an attorney to file a lawsuit for me in 2014. The loss I sought to recover occurred in June 2013. From July 2014 to September 2015, I paid the attorney $11,700. I do not think he earned it. I replaced him in September of 2015.The attorney does not agree that he over charged and underperformed. Should I take this dispute to the local bar association?
Off to a bad start
I found him on Yelp in 2012 when I had a few questions about a prospective tenant who threatened to sue, and that went well. I called him about the eventual lawsuit in September 2013, to ask if he thought I had a case and whether he was interested in handling it. I told him what had happened in June, and what I wanted out of a lawsuit. He asked me how much I thought it would cost file the complaint and follow it through. I said $20,000. He didn’t say anything either way; I think I went on to say that was all the cash I had. I called him again in June 2014, and said I wanted to proceed. Before I signed his retainer, in July, in 2014, he asked me again, via email, how much I thought it would cost. Again I said $20,000. He dropped the topic. So, I figured it would cost $20,000 to $25,000. Also before I signed his retainer, he asked me to deposit $1,500 in his Wells Fargo account, which I did. Then I signed the retainer, and the ball was in his court, where it stayed for a very long time.The pdf I uploaded has the bare bones of the case, some contract language ti support it, and the forgery. About the case: 95% of my interaction with my agent was by email, and I haven’t deleted any of the emails, so I have proof of what I said to her and what said said to me.What he did and what I did:
-Sent out mediation letters to the two defendants, who did not respond.
-Sent out document preservation letters to the same defendants, and also to the escrow company.
-On the night of May 15, 2015, after I wrote him and begged him to move the case along, in, he wrote my complaint. He then revised it according to my clarifications, and filed it.
-Emailed back and forth with the broker’s defense attorney 4 or 5 times.
-Forwarded the discovery requests it to me without looking at the.I:
-wrote a blow-by-blow account of what happened to bring about my loss..
-hired and paid a process server, because his got lost looking for the address, and said it didn’t exist. It does.
-found, hired, and paid the forgery expert I needed
-Looked for an appraiser (Didn't find one)How it went
I was as patient as I could manage, but I wrote an imploring message in May of 2015, because it was nearly two years since the deal went bad and nearly a year since I signed the attorney’s retainer. In response, the attorney wrote the complaint in one night, based only on a five-page summary the I wrote. One plaintiff, the broker, hired his usual attorney and fired back an aggressive answer and aggressive pile of discovery questions. My attorney forwarded them to me with no instructions. I had no idea that “discovery” existed and no idea what I was supposed to do. I asked him if he would at least read the questions and tell me if I really had to answer all of them them. The broker’s attorney was asking for records of the property going back to 2009, which seemed irrelevant. He refused to read them.My attorney had $2400 of mine in an account at that point. He began demanding another $6000. I pointed out that I had already paid him $8700, and I didn’t see how this could be done for $20,000 at this rate. He said to expect more like $40,000 to $60,000. When he announced that, I asked him what had changed, and he said that they had hired an attorney. I pointed out that most people would. He then said that they hired an aggressive attorney. You can guess what I said: “Do most people hire passive ones?” Then he said he had never said that it would only cost $20,000, and started going on about the cost of depositions, experts, court reporters, etc. Great, I get it, but there was nothing new. Why didn't he say that at the outset?He was billing me all along, but only sent two of itemized lists of what he had done. Nothing I looked at carefully made sense. (I uploaded an image with four emails that he billed me an hour for as an example.)So, for all that, I ended up paying $11,700. At $295/hr, that work supposedly took him 40 hours.The capper was when I went back and looked at his Yelp page. Never mind the bitterly angry reviews there and on rip-off report, the positive ones come in pairs and seem to be working from the same menu of elements to be assembled into unique but overly similar paragraphs. I uploaded some of those, too.How would a bar mediator see this? Feel free to ask if you need more information.