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I am sorry to hear about your problems. I suggest you start by terminating his services. That will stop the bleeding. I also suggest you tell him you are not paying the balance if the bill and seek to negotiate something reasonable. You have every right to file a complaint with the Bar Association as missing court dates is rarely justified and you should not have to pay for it. Then speak to another probate attorney to go over the case and get a fixed price for what remains to be done. The cost of the services needs to be commensurate with the amount at play.
This communication is not intended as legal advice. A local attorney should always be consulted for legal advice. No client/attorney relationship is intended or created by this communication.
I have no money left to go to another probate attorney, so I needed to know if and how I can finish this without an attorney, and possibly where I could get information on how to do that. Telling me to see another attorney when I have no money left to pay for it is not very helpful.
In my question, I'd already stated that I needed to get rid of the idiot lawyer, so telling me to get rid of him didn't add anything I didn't already know.
Please, give me something so I can push the "Accept Answer" button.
Was it legal for him to bill me $285 an hour to call to dun me for money?
Is a complaint to the Bar Association going to accomplish anything? Is it even any kind of a threat? Complaining to an association of lawyers about an incompetent lawyer doesn't sound likely to fall on sympathetic ears. I imagine a threat to complain to the Bar Association won't be taken very seriously either, but I was already going to start there.
Is there a process available to me where I can complete this myself? I can guarantee you that I am way smarter than that attorney was. (Not that that's saying much.) How / where can I get information about finishing the trust matter myself?
I do not know enough about where you are in the process on what takes to finish the case but you can represent your self. You may have to go to law library to familiarize yourself with the court rules to follow procedures. You should have memoranda discussing the legal issues in the case you can use.
As for the complaint. It should be used as a threat to negotiate down or eliminate the balance due on the fees. From what you describe you have a complaint about the charges and you can get relief by challenging the fees before the Bar Association under their fee dispute process.
OK, I realize you have been trying to answer the questions that can not be answered in a simple sentence and that's really all that you can really give me.
Let's try questions with simple answers:
1.) Is it legal for for an attorney to call to dun me for money, and then bill me $285 an hour for the time he spent doing it?
Yes or No? (If this IS legal, it certainly should not be.)
He has already been paid over $6,500 and accomplished nothing, because he keeps screwing up. 90% of his bill is because he likes to listen to himself talk.
2.) What form(s) do I need to file with the court to subsitute myself in as attorney?
3.) How soon before the next court date do I need to do this?
Everything has been done. All this attorney needed to do was make a phone appearance on the scheduled date and time to tell the Judge that all parties had agreed to "Stipulate to the Pleadings." Instead he was a 'no show,' and the court date is set back four months.
Or at least that is what the 'no show' attorney is telling me, in his version, it's the Judge that screwed up and his not making an appearance presents no problem at all. (Other than then four month delay - and remember, the four month delay came after a two month delay because the attorney did not properly notify the other side that we had made a response.)
Here are the responses to your questions.
1. charging for calls for unpaid bills in my view is not proper but there is no law against it. You can probably successfully challenge it in a fee dispute.
2. There is no form to file - your attorney just withdraws or is terminated as your representative and you notify the court and the other side you are proceeding pro se.
3. If you are going to handle the next court date yourself, you need to have your attorney withdraw as soon as possible.
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