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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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My 88 year old mother was just awarded $7250 in a securities

Customer Question

My 88 year old mother was just awarded $7250 in a securities arbitration settlement. We just received the bill. Of the $7250, she will only receive $2920. $4330 is going to lawyer and mediator's fees. My question is - is there a ceiling on the bill? Can they walk away with 60% of her award?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Legal
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
fyi - contract with lawyer was 40% for her. She charged $2766.76 for fees & $333.09 for expenses.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 8 months ago.
Dear Customer,Unfortunately, with arbitration, the parties must agree to the compensation for the arbitrator (usually paying both the actual arbitrator and the arbitration service). The fee is usually a fixed amount based on the dollar amount in dispute.The attorney is likely working on a "contingency fee agreement" where the law firm will advance its services and the costs of litigation, in exchange for a portion of the client's recovery. So the client will get representation without having to pay anything up front, but will have to reimburse the law firm for its expenses, then pay the law firm a portion of their recovery to compensate them for their time and efforts. (These fee agreements can be changed between the parties, and some lawyers will have the client pay for the litigation costs as the matter is being litigated, and the client will only have to split part of their recovery to pay for the attorney's time when they win).
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I have never sued anyone, so I am not familiar with the process. I was told, not asked, that we were going to arbitration. Should I have been told the price of the arbitrator in advance? Also, the lawyer did everything over the phone and email. I never met her. Now I am questioning the entire process. The process started in Sept. 2013 and we received the check in March 2016. I was reading tonight and the sites said the process takes 10 - 18 months, not 2 1/2 years.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 8 months ago.
Dear Customer,There are some difficulties with your matter. Your mother is the client (not you). The attorney has a duty of confidentiality (the attorney/client privilege) between the attorney and the client (not with the client's children).Also, timelines for resolution through arbitration are relative, not absolute. (I personally do not favor arbitration over civil litigation, as I have found that it takes nearly as long as a traditional lawsuit, the litigants give up certain rights, and they are almost the same cost. However, there are many instances where there is simply no choice and the litigants are forced to arbitration - so it really doesn't matter what one would like or prefer).Arbitrator fees again, are almost always fixed.Your mother should however have received something through the course of this - she should have signed a 'legal services agreement' she should have been notified of what was occurring in her matter.In the scope of things, this is a relatively small dispute (the attorney likely came nowhere near to breaking even on the amount of time they spent compared to the amount they were paid out of the recovery), but your mother is still entitled to her attorney's best efforts and representation, including duties to communicate and keep the client reasonably informed.

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