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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Hi. I hired an attorney in PA to help with the building and

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Hi. I hired an attorney in PA to help with the building and purchase of a new home. When we hired him we gave a retainer of $1500. He helped in the beginning stages, but when we hit a snag with the start of construction he told me he would investigate what out options were and then never called back. 2 months later after numerous attempt to call him we sent him a letter (not certified :() to fire him. At that time we asked for a statement of billable hours (he has never sent us one), a copy of our file, and the return of unearned retainer (there is no way he went through $1500 in making a few phone calls). Weeks have past, I have tried to contact him to find out when we should receive these items, and still I have heard nothing. We have since hired a new attorney who would like the info in the file. What can I do?

Thank you for your question.

You have a right to your file and a right to the return of any unused portion of your fees. You likely have a right to the entire amount given to the attorney since he has refused to communicate to you as is his duty under the law.

You need to file a complaint on the following page:

The Discipline Committee will force the attorney to turn over the file and to return the money. Your attorney that you have now hired should also take action in trying to contact the old attorney to obtain the file.

In the end, if the old attorney won't respond, it will require a court order which the Disciplinary Committee will obtain on your behalf.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thank you. When I went to file the complaint I learned that as of last week (7/15) he was placed on administrative suspension. Is there any further action that I can take now that it is clear he took my retainer and was then suspended?

So they have already suspended him because of a complaint you filed?

Have you contacted the Disciplinary Committee to ask if they will pursue getting restitution for you through an order?

Outside of this, the only thing you can do is sue him directly for breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No. I have never filed anything against him. When I went to file it was when I noticed that he was placed on "adminstrative suspension" last week. From what I can gather it appears to be because he did not pay his fees to the state to keep his license. However, seeing as he could not repersent us now even if he wanted- can we request the whole retainer back since he clearly knew this was coming and let us retain him anyway?

Well, if you did not file the complaint already, you need to go ahead and do that. The State can revoke his license and issue penalty orders against him.

In regard to whether you will be entitled to your entire fee back, this will likely depend on the specific circumstances (i.e., if he actually did any work). I would think that you have a very good chance at getting it all back.
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