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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 39031
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I had a free office consultation re divorce with ...

Customer Question

I had a free office consultation re:divorce with the lawyer per her advertisement (general questions and cost) since I am from the foreign county and not familiar with the American law. However, I had been looking for other Christian Lawyers to compare the options. Three days later I found out about my husband bride by mail service''s girlfriend and his 3 years international affairs which he admitted, spending our joint checking account for the trips overseas, her clothes,etc. Then he started to threat me by deporation of me and my family and I had not choice but to hire the first lawyer who claimed to be a Christian. When I came to her office the lawyer was in the court and her secretary told me to pay $2K as a retainer. I did . She told me that the lawyer would contact me. I had not been contacted that day (Thursday) and day after(Friday) and all my requests to get a copy of the contract left ignored.

But Monday per the voicemail left by the paralegal assistant the lawyer filed the petititon for the divorce. She billed me for the office and phone consultation, draft the petition. I never authorized the lawyer to take action on my behalf without further concultation: I did not have any office or phone consultation with the lawyer on Friday the next day I paid the retainer. I have filed the complaint with Dallas Bars Association but it was overturned to the lawyer''s favor. Please help me to understand the situation, what I did wrong? Thank you.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 9 years ago.

You signed the contract and paid the lawyer. That is alll that's required to authorize the attorney/lawyer's action on your behalf (a written agreement supported by monetary consideration).

I understand that you want a "christian lawyer." However, you should consider whether that is the primay criterion that you should be using to obtain legal representation.

Would God want you to discriminate on the basis of faith -- or, would your trust in someone who is perhaps not a perfect vessel, work to bring that person closer to God.

No offense intended. Just some thoughts for a Sunday afternoon.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to socrateaser's Post: I am absolutely sure that the lawyer has commited a billing fraud which is a padding or increasing of time without disclosure to or a consent of the client.
According to the TX rules of the Professional Conduct 1.02 paragraph a) I qoute: the lawyer shall abide by the client's decisions concerning the objectives and general methods of representation. The client has ultimate authority to determine the objectives to be served by legal representation. The lawyer should follow client's wishes regarding the matters.

A lawyer should consult with client concerning any proposal and it's for the client to decide whether to accept it or not". My decisions/ wishes were simply ignored because I had no office/phone consultation with the lawyer despite of the billng for the events than never took place...... I was eliminated from the process as soon as the lawyer cashed my retainer... and... sorry... I am not satisfied with your answer ...
Expert:  socrateaser replied 9 years ago.

Okay, but as you say, the TX State Bar found no wrongdoing in your complain, and as it is responsible for enforcing the TX Rules of Profesional Conduct, whatever it says, is the law.

The Rule that you quote refers to a lawyer's obtaining your direction as to the general objective of a case. Apparently, your general objective was to obtain a divorce, and the lawyer filed for divorce. The "acceptance of a proposal" refers to an offer to compromise or settle a case. Your facts disclose no effort to settle or compromise, so to the extent that this rule is cited as your argument, it is inapplicable to the facts.

The better rule, in my view, and one about which you did not complain, is 1.03: the lawyer is supposed to communicate with the client -- which apparently he/she did not do very well.

I do undersand that you are unhappy with the representation. I also understand that you believe you received a free consult and where thereafter billed for it. That is abominable on the part of the attorney. But, if the Bar found that this didn't occur, then that's pretty much the end of the battle, unless you want to sue the attorney for malpractice and fraud -- which will be expensive.

What I'm wondering is whether or not your dissolution is still filed and whether you are finishing it with another attorney. I wouldn't want to see your rights prejudiced by your not having suitable representation, because your opponent could take advantage of this.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I have cancelled the representation two weeks after the lawyer filed the petition. However, per the lawyer's bills she quickly made 8 hours of work on my case. Just filed the petition for the divorce and removed the names from the docket. Sounds not reasonable for me as an accountant. Still not clear what I can do to recover the unused portion of the retainer and those fraudulent/padded charges for the work never performed- to try small claims court since the attorney declined to arbitrate the fees. There should be some way...Too bad that the arbitration is not mandatory for the lawyers in TX like in other states. They know that they can go away with their inflated billing and repeatedly ignoring clients questions.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 9 years ago.

I think that small claims for misrepresentation may be the way to go. Eight hours billing seems a bit excessive for drafting and filing a petition, unless the petition is quite extensive and you provided a great deal of facts.

Hard to say without reviewing the case.