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Attorney2
Attorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 5662
Experience:  28 Years In General Practice,
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My son had an incident in which I thought I needed a lawyer.

Customer Question

My son had an incident in which I thought I needed a lawyer. Emotions took over, I talked with a lawyer on Thursday at 4:00 and he quoted me 2500 dollars. He told me to call his office, give credit card over phone. I did that, and within 5 minutes was second guessing this lawyer. I called to reverse the charges and he quickly called me back and said that he already called the authorities and said he was representing my son (he had not been arrested yet). He asked me what happened, and I said that my husband and I decided to go with someone else. He started to explain to me that he had already started, and I then agreed and said okay we will cancel the other lawyer and go with him. I called him back that night and asked him the again the fee, he said the same thing. He called my son and talked to him for about 5 minutes. I did not sign anything, had called the credit card company to dispute my charge because I had changed my mind. They said I had to wait until the next day to dispute once it posted. I called the lawyer in the morning, told him I did not want to go with him and entered a dispute with my credit card company. Two weeks later (my son still had not been charged with anything or arrested) I get a letter back from him with a check for 1875 dollars in it stating "Your charge has already been credited to my account, here is a refund. I am charging you 625 dollars for my legal services, this concludes my representation." I was furious, but the next day my credit card company did reverse the charges. I sent back the check with VOID on it. Does he have any right to charge me the 625 dollars without any contract or even case that he said he represented my son on?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Attorney2 replied 8 months ago.

Welcome and thank you for your question. Which State does your question pertain to?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
illinois
Expert:  Attorney2 replied 8 months ago.

Thank you for your patience.

That is a ploy that used to justify charging at the outset of representation. The proper way is to have a formal written retainer agreement;he can begin the case without one, however, he must set out clearly how he charges. The next step would be getting the client to sign the retainer agreement as soon as possible.

Please see RULE 1.5: FEES8 (b) below

Where I am having an issue is the amount that he is saying he charged for"contacting the authorities" What is his hourly charge and howlong did he speak to law enforcement?

I agree with you that this is an excessive amount and he should haverefunded you in full or provided a breakdown of charges for exactly what he didand the time "contacting the authorities" He is in risky territory here since he had noretainer agreement with you.

I would suggest asking him for a breakdown of the charges and letting himknow that you are contacting the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commissionin Illinois to file a complaint. https://www.iardc.org/howtorequest.html

This is the rule on fees

“RULE 1.5: FEES

(a) A lawyer shall not make an agreement for,charge, or collect an unreasonable fee or an unreasonable amount for expenses.The factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;

(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;

(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;

(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;

(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;

(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;

(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and

(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent.

(b) The scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client, preferably in writing, before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation, except when the lawyer will charge a regularly represented client on the same basis or rate. Any changes in the basis or rate of the fee or expenses shall also be communicated to the client.

(c) A fee may be contingent on the outcome of the matter for which the service is rendered, except in a matter in which a contingent fee is prohibited by paragraph (d) or other law. A contingent fee agreement shall be in a writing signed by the client and shall state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage or percentages that shall accrue to the lawyer in the event of settlement, trial or appeal; litigation and other expenses to be deducted from the recovery; and whether such expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee is calculated. The agreement must clearly notify the client of any expenses for which the client will be liable whether or not the client is the prevailing party. Upon conclusion of a contingent fee matter, the lawyer shall provide the client with a written statement stating the outcome of the matter and, if there is a recovery,showing the remittance to the client and the method of its determination.

(d)A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:

(1) any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or

(2) a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.

(e)A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:

(1) the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer, or if the primary service performed by one lawyer is the referral of the client to another lawyer and each lawyer assumes joint financial responsibility for the representation;

(2) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is confirmed in writing;and

(3) the total fee is reasonable.

Comment

Reasonableness of Fee and Expenses

[1] Paragraph (a) requires that lawyers charge fees that are reasonable under the circumstances. The factors specified in (1) through (8) are not exclusive. Nor will each factor be relevant in each instance. Paragraph (a) also requires that expenses for which the client will be charged must be reasonable. A lawyer may seek reimbursement for the cost of services performed in-house, such as copying, or for other expenses incurred in-house, such as telephone charges,either by charging a reasonable amount to which the client has agreed in advance or by charging an amount that reasonably reflects the cost incurred by the lawyer.

Basis or Rate of Fee

[2]When the lawyer has regularly represented a client, they ordinarily will have evolved an understanding concerning the basis or rate of the fee and the expenses for which the client will be responsible. In a new client-lawyer relationship, however, an understanding as to fees and expenses must be promptly established. Generally, it is desirable to furnish the client with at least a simple memorandum or copy of the lawyer’s customary fee arrangements that states the general nature of the legal services to be provided, the basis,rate or total amount of the fee and whether and to what extent the client will be responsible for any costs, expenses or disbursements in the course of there presentation. A written statement concerning the terms of the engagement reduces the possibility of misunderstanding.

[3] Contingent fees, like any other fees, are subject to the reasonableness standard of paragraph (a) of this Rule. In determining whether a particular contingent fee is reasonable, or whether it is reasonable to charge any form of contingent fee, a lawyer must consider the factors that are relevant under the circumstances. Applicable law may impose limitations on contingent fees, such as a ceiling on the percentage allowable, or may require a lawyer to offer clients an alternative basis for the fee. Applicable law also may apply to situations other than a contingent fee, for example, government regulations regarding fees in certain tax matters.

Terms of Payment

[4] A lawyer may require advance payment of a fee, but is obliged to return any unearned portion. See Comments [3B] through [3D] to Rule 1.15 and Rule 1.16(d). A lawyer may accept property in payment for services, such as an ownership interest in an enterprise, providing this does not involve acquisition of a proprietary interest in the cause of action or subject matter of the litigation contrary to Rule 1.8 (i). However, a fee paid in property instead of money maybe subject to the requirements of Rule 1.8(a) because such fees often have the essential qualities of a business transaction with the client.

[5] An agreement may not be made whose terms might induce the lawyer improperly to curtail services for the client or perform them in a way contrary to the client’s interest. For example, a lawyer should not enter into an agreement whereby services are to be provided only up to a stated amount when it is foreseeable that more extensive services probably will be required, unless the situation is adequately explained to the client. Otherwise, the client might have to bargain for further assistance in the midst of a proceeding or transaction. However, it is proper to define the extent of services in light of the client’s ability to pay. A lawyer should not exploit a fee arrangement based primarily on hourly charges by using wasteful procedures.” http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_VIII/ArtVIII_NEW.htm#1.5

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter. It would be my pleasure to continue to assist you.

If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I may receive credit for my work I would appreciate it.

Thank you for using JA! We appreciate your business.

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 8 months ago.

Are you still with me?

Expert:  Attorney2 replied 8 months ago.
Please ignore the additional services request. If you would be kind enough to rate my service positively so I will receive credit for my work I would appreciate it. Thank you for using JA!

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