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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 27692
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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Our new lawyer is insisting we have to pay the previous

Customer Question

Our new lawyer is insisting we have to pay the previous lawyer (who quit in the middle of the case), his hourly rate of $375 to testify as to the reasonableness of his fees. He was subpoenaed but agreed to appear only if we paid him $375. We are not under
contract with him, we have paid the bill (negotiated downward due to our dispute with him), and are calling him as a witness on the attorney fee petition (for his fees, which we paid). You suggested on a previous answer to me that he should only be paid the
standard witness fee of $20 plus mileage. Paying him more feels like we are bribing him. We subpoenaed him previously when my son was trying to represent himself, and the previous lawyer refused to appear, and stated that he would basically sabotage the case
if called to appear. How do I convince the new attorney not to pay him more than the standard witness fee? She says because he is a professional, he gets more money than the standard witness. I said "but he is not there as an expert witness" but she has already
told him he will get paid more to appear. She refuses to believe that he will not sabotage the case (by claiming that since we disputed his fees, he can't claim they are reasonable). Now what do we do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi,

As the client, you are ultimately in charge of your case. The lawyer knows strategy, but it's YOUR case. You're allowed to tell your lawyer not to call certain witnesses to testify, or that you absolutely refuse to pay this witness to appear when he is not testifying as an expert witness. You can even fire your lawyer and hire another one if she insists upon calling a witness you don't want to appear and charging you huge amounts of money to bring him there.

If you have anything from the lawyer stating that he'll sabotage the case, that could help you. Or you could ask your lawyer to remind the previous lawyer that it's a violation of the rules of ethics to lie to a tribunal, and if he intentionally lies to the judge in order to ruin your case, you'll report him to the bar association for misconduct.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well, we really just want to wrap up this case so we are trying to work with this new lawyer. This is the latest attorney we have hired and simply have no more funds to hire another.... and she promised she wouldn't spend any money without okaying with us and then turned around and did things we didn't approve. We have argued with her about this witness fee and since she already told him she would pay him, she won't back down. And without him testifying that his fees are reasonable we can't get a judgement regarding the fees.The new attorney said she would allow me to write the fee petition for her attorney fees to save us money, BUT she won't tell me how to amend the petition once it is noticed and presented such that it will reflect the correct amount for all the related court dates. Then she said she wanted to add another court date just to present her fee petition, while we are asking her to minimize the number of court dates. We have no court orders stating that we can petition for attorney fees or have them amended. She says that isn't necessary to present the petition for fees. Is this correct or should I question her judgment on that too?She said she would not do anything without getting our approval first. Then she subpoenaed the witness before asking us. Then she said she wouldn't charge us for that, but then it was on the next bill. She called the other lawyer (to be a witness) and agreed to pay (him) the witness his hourly rate, before we agreed to even move forward with calling him as a witness. Now she is getting all defensive that we are challenging her on these things. And the judge won't hear the case if my son doesn't use a lawyer.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Look at your fee agreement with her. If it requires that you approve fees before she charges then, she can't charge you for the stuff you refused to pay upfront. You can also dispute the fees she's charging you through the Illinois Supreme Court's Registration and Disciplinary Commission - both for unnecessary court appearances and witness fees.

http://www.isba.org/public/faqs

Did she ask for attorney's fees in the original Complaint? If so, then you don't need to file a separate petition for them. If not, then I'm not clear on why the attorney is coming to testify at all without a petition for fees. You might want to ask her to clarify.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sorry....I am afraid there is so much more to the situation that it can't be answered here.
Thanks anyway.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry. Some situations are so complicated that this isn't the best forum to try to work through them. I hope you can work things out.

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