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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 87171
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Through a friend I visited with an attorney Bob about a will.

Resolved Question:

Through a friend I visited with an attorney Bob about a will. He took all the info down and said he would get back to us. Its been 3 weeks and just recently a more pressing issue came about regarding my wife's employment. I called this attny and he said hes not an employment attny but knows one if we need him. He listened and gave some advice. He did not know what a loudermill letter was and I said we may be getting one. Another week goes by and pressing questions arise as the school (my wife's employer) is moving with some actions. The union lawyer did not respond or help. Finally, a call comes back from Bob and he said he got my voice mails and called the union attny so they could brainstorm what to do next. They put my wife on sabbatical. I got a bill from Bob for 2hrs of conf time (I talked 45min to him - looking at my cell phone records) and 2 more hours in his conf with union attny and looking up past cases (a real employment attny such a the union one knew cases to reference off top of his head). Why should I have to pay Bob to learn to be an employment attny? The total bill was $600. What do I do to not only challenge this bill but put a stop to the will process (if he is even working on it- its been 5 weeks now)?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. In situations like this, the client can challenge the bill with the Bar. If the client feels that the bill is unfair (either inflated, or unconscionable, or perhaps as in this case, where the attorney billed for hours that were 'wasted'), the client may challenge the bill with Lawyer Dispute Resolution Program - here. Then, the PA Bar will schedule a mediation between the two of you and the matter is to be settled properly. Often, the attorney will agree to simply reduce the bill once the dispute is filed, to avoid the bar's oversight.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know I can challenge it but is he entitled to the full $600 and how do I handle the will situation? Im trying to understand what is a fair / legal approach to resolve with him directly.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello friend,

You and him never discussed rates per hour, correct?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
correct. not for the phone calls or the cost to do the will. I really am nervous that once I ask about the will he'll stick with with whatever size bill as I never got a qoute. How can I just get him to stop and give me a qoute BEFORE he goes further?
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply, friend.

1) If you and he had not discussed a quote, then he is expected to bill a reasonable rate. This can be anything from $75 to $250, depending on his expertise, his time spent, the matter at hand, etc. If he simply chose a rate and went with it, one which you disagree, then the next step is to have the fee dispute like discussed. Under Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 (Fees), it states:

"When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an
understanding concerning the basis or rate of the fee. In a new client-lawyer relationship, however, an
understanding as to the fee should be promptly established. It is not necessary to recite all the factors that
underlie the basis of the fee, but only those that are directly involved in its computation. It is sufficient, for
example, to state that the basic rate is an hourly charge or a fixed amount or an estimated amount, or to
identify the factors that may be taken into account in finally fixing the fee. When developments occur during
the representation that render an earlier estimate substantially inaccurate, a revised estimate should be
provided to the client. A written statement concerning the fee reduces the possibility of misunderstanding.
Furnishing the client with a simple memorandum or a copy of the lawyer’s customary fee schedule is
sufficient if the basis or rate of the fee is set forth."

See here.

Because he has failed to establish an understanding as he was supposed to, he may be 'punished' in that the fee may be deemed less than usual for a case like this due to his inaction, by the Bar.

How can I just get him to stop and give me a qoute BEFORE he goes further?

A letter to him will do, one that states to do just this. Something along the lines of:

Dear _________,

This correspondence is in regards XXXXX XXXXX At this point, I am requesting that you pause representation until you and I can discuss and agree on a fee in writing, as required by the PA Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5. Please let me know when we can have this discussion. I may be reached at any time at (tel).

Sincerely,

Signature

Name


Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What if during all this quiet time hes been racking up a bill or as soon as I tell him to pause he sends me a big bill for fees we never dicussed or agreed on for the creation of a will? Im concerned this will turn from what is fair to nasty. How do I know what my chances are to win this in arbitration if you say he can bill whatever reasonable rate? I dont question his rte as much as his time- such as it may take him 10hrs to do what some other attyn could do in 3...but how could I ever prove this. As you see trust is an issue.
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

I can understand that this is a trust issue, yes. If he simply sends a big bill for an hourly amount never agreed/discussed, then you can file a fee dispute.

How do I know what my chances are to win this in arbitration if you say he can bill whatever reasonable rate?

They are geared in your favor due to him failing to establish a rate in the first place, but there are no guarantees.

In summary, someone in your situation:

1) Can send a letter, and/or if he disagrees or sends a high bill;
2) Can initiate a fee dispute and have the matter settled via mediation.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 87171
Experience: Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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