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I am so sorry to hear about this situation. But you are in luck because what the attorneys are doing is against the rules of ethics for attorneys who receive advanced fees. Under the American Bar Association's Model Rule 1.16(7)(d), "Upon termination of representation, a lawyer shall take steps to the extent reasonably practicable to protect a client's interests, such as giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, surrendering papers and property to which the client is entitled and refunding any advance payment of fee or expense that has not been earned or incurred. The lawyer may retain papers relating to the client to the extent permitted by other law."
All this means is that if the representation has been terminated, then the fee that they have not earned must be returned. You should immediately send them a letter citing this provision and ask for payment back within five (5) business days. If you do not hear from them, you should contact the State Bar Association to advise them that someone has been keeping your fees unlawfully.
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