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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33159
Experience:  Attorney with 15 years experience in various consumer protection areas
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We hired an attorney, we settled the case. The attorney wired

Customer Question

We hired an attorney, we settled the case. The attorney wired us the money we "settled" and now some 3 weeks later he wants the money back stating "he did that because he wanted us to feel the victory of winning" (I kid you not) Now he claims that we own him double the fees I've already paid. I've never received any invoices form him, just this demand after this case was solved. What do I do? He states he will file a lawsuit to recover these fees.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question..What was your original agreement regarding any attorney fees?.Do you have any type of written contract with the attorney setting out what you agreed to pay him as compensation?.Was this a flat fee billing case?, a percentage of recovery case?, hourly?.thanksBarristerBarrister
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Yes, it was a retainer attorney. The retainer spelled out the hourly rate etc. It stated in the Agreement that I would receive monthly bills (which we never did) throughout the representation (Case was a frivolous suit in which the plaintiff paid us the amount which was essentially 15% of the fees I had already paid). The language in the Retainer Agreement speaks to a Lien "attached to any recovery and Attorney's Fees and cost related to the case..."The attorney took my wife and I to lunch and congratulated us on the settlement. We asked him about the money in the settlement and he stated "it was all ours, we owed him no more money", thus he wired the money upon receipt (as he indicated). Now post settlement, and months later, he wants the money back plus he sent us what he calls his final invoice (remember we never received any invoices from him after many request to do so). He's filed a lawsuit to recover what essentially is double the $25K I've already paid him...
Expert:  Barrister replied 5 months ago.
Ok, if the retainer agreement states he would bill you on an hourly rate, then he could pursue you for any unpaid costs as long as he could document his work on the case in an itemized invoice. Stating something like "Work performed, $25,000" isn't enough to justify you paying him for that and you would be within your rights to demand itemized invoices for any work performed..But I can't understand why he would give you all the money initially and then want to reclaim some of it later.... That doesn't make any sense as an attorney will typically withhold his fees and expenses from any recovery and then refund the balance to the client..So if he has already filed suit, your recourse here is to unfortunately hire another attorney to defend against his claims and force him to present legitimate itemized bills showing that he is actually entitled to the money that he is claiming. But if you are talking about $50,000, even at $300 an hour, that would be 167 hours which is a lot of time to spend on a case, being over 4 straight weeks at 40 hours a week. I find it very unlikely that he would spend this much time unless the case dragged out over a year or longer..But if he can justify his bills, then he would be within the statute of limitations to file suit under a breach of contract claim even though his behavior in giving you all the money and then asking for it back months later is bizarre...thanksBarrister

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