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MShore
MShore, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 25285
Experience:  Negotiate, Draft, and Review many complex commercial agreements each year.
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I am trying to find out if I have reasonable chance of winning

Resolved Question:

I am trying to find out if I have reasonable chance of winning the following case and if so, under what argument? I wanted to defend myself, because if I am going to lose, why pay two lawyers.

In April 2008, I hired a divorce lawyer, paying $2000 retainer and signing an agreement for monthly payments thereafter once that was used up. The lawyer had promised to hire a private detective which he never did. I was given legal advice that caused me to be placed in contempt of court. I had repeatedly asked the lawyer for mediation sessions for settlement with my ex-wife. Basically between her lawyer and mine, he used up the $2000 and racked up another $5000 by July, plus I was paying support payments, and he never hired private detective. He then demanded on a Monday immediate payment of $2000 by Wednesday, or he would quit as my lawyer. I offered him $1000, on Wednesday and $1000 on Friday which was my pay day. He refused it. I was force to get another lawyer. I refused to pay him any additional money. By the way, the new lawyer immediately got the magistrate to issue court ordered mediation sessions. The divorce was settled quickly thereafter.

In October 2009, the lawyer filed a lawsuit for $5300 against me. I filed an answer to the court, denying I owed him the money based on 12 items listed and claimed recuperation of $16,800 in damages from the lawyer. At the beginning of November, the lawyer was elected judge to the court in which he was suing me. In December 2009, the lawyer dismissed the case. Three prior to the dismal, the lawyer had called me and asked if I was going to file a countersuit. I said no, only to the extent of my answer to the court.

In January 2010, a new law firm informed me that they had bought the law practice and the accounts. I told them I did not owe them anything, they disagreed. This lawyer has since become a chief of police, and sold his law firm. This law firm is now suing me for $6500.

My answer to the court was the original lawyer had no right to sell a publically (court answer) disputed account to another law firm. He sold the account with full knowledge that I disputed his claim and that if he tried to win claim he would lose. My claim is that the law firms bought a misrepresented account from the first lawyer and need to seek restitution from him not me.

So now I am faced with trial on Monday, and the option of hiring a lawyer tomorrow for a $1500 retainer, to get a continuance and either negotiate a smaller amount for me to pay because I cannot win, or to fight the case for me. If I cannot win, fighting case with the lawyer seems a waste of money, except in phone consultation the lawyer states he thinks he can get amount down or maybe win and second it is bad idea to go in without a lawyer. I feel confident in my ability to present a case.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  MShore replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the post, I am happy to assist you by answering your questions. While it is a bad idea to defend a suit and counterclaim without counsel, you should retain counsel with a cap on fees so that you can be assured that your legal fees will not exceed whatever reduction the attorney is negotiating on your behalf. This does not mean you do not have a chance of winning, you do, but I want you to have the bases covered in the event you do not prevail and have to reach a settlement. Please let me know if you need additional guidance.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The lawyer had already mentioned a cap of $2500, saying it would be unreasonable to spend more on $6300 lawsuit.

My options are:
1: Call the suiing lawyer and see how much they are willing to accept, without going to court on Monday. My guess, is maybe $5500, but it will have to be in payments over a long period. Maybe they would settle for less, but this I do not know. They feel confident they will win, so why would they negotiate?

2: Go to court as I planned on Monday, with what I prepared, and possibly something more (WHICH IS WHAT I AM TRULY ASKING - what is the key argument to my defense?) If I win, I am out nothing, except my fee to you. If I lose, the court will order me to pay, but with my current debt load, they can only order me to pay to so much a month, which I can accept.

3: Hire this lawyer. If I lose, my question would be, how much would it really get reduced? If it does not get reduce much, then I am out $6300, more court fees and the lawyer fees. At least I would have the $1500 in my pocket as a buffer. If the lawyer wins the case for me, "on the grounds that the original lawyer had no right to sell the account", then I am still out his fees, and I still run the risk of being sued by the original lawyer (now judge) if they recoup the money from him.

Your answer was a stock answer - Of course it is better to have counsel in court, and yes there should be a cap on the fees for this type of case, this is just common sense. I didn't pay justanswer.com for a stock answer that I could about anywhere for free and it was not what I expected when you stated you needed some additional information, prior to agreeing to have you answer. I was waiting for you to ask the additional information you needed.

The answer I was seeking was: do I have a good chance on winning (without or without a lawyer) and what would be the argument that I would most likely win the case with? If I do not have a high chance of winning, then I am mostlikely wasting my money.
Expert:  MShore replied 2 years ago.
Yes, you have a chance of winning, the argument would be that the attorney was negligent in the performance of his duties, for which the firm should not be rewarded via the payment of the claimed legal fees as though claimed, there is no substantiation for the bill, and it is their duty to so substantiate the value of the services rendered via a preponderance of the evidence.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

I am happy with your answer, I will accept it, but I wanted to clarify it.

Even though attorney sold the account, and the new law firm has the account records/invoices/contract of that attorney, because he was negligent as claimed, and should not be rewarded fees. You are stating the current law firm needs to substantiate the value of his services, not just rely on the unpaid invoices and original signed contract I had with the attorney as their proof they are owed the money?

Am I understand your reply correctly? If so, thank-you very much. If I not, please tell me,

Either way, I will still accept your answer.
Expert:  MShore replied 2 years ago.
Correct, they need to substantiate, this is because anyone can submit an invoice for services, whether such services were rendered or not. Please let me know if you need additional guidance.
MShore, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 25285
Experience: Negotiate, Draft, and Review many complex commercial agreements each year.
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