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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118200
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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For my criminal case, I searched on Google and researched for

Customer Question

For my criminal case, I searched on Google and researched for a strong national presence attorney and found Terani Law Firm. I called them and talked to some Bret Lamprey.
He assured me that there will be a case worker assigned to me, and as soon as I put the retainer $4,500 down, there will be people working for me and all my problems will go away.I paid them the retainer,I was stuck in the maze of answering machines, their voicemail waits, answering services. I canceld but did get the $ back!
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
If your retainer agreement stated it was non-refundable then you could have a problem getting a refund and you would have to pursue a bar complaint though the grievance committee of the state supreme court appellate division. You can find the location of the grievance division near you at

You could also seek to sue them for breach of contract for their failure to provide services they agreed to perform once you gave them the retainer if the grievance committee cannot resolve your complaint.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Michael D. Terani (the principa) is hiding behind Audrey, (Tom) and a labyrinth of answering services. However, he is the one who is not giving the $4,500 back. Earlier just a day before the court date, Audrey promised that with-in 4,5 days I will get teh refund back. Then I contacted XXXXX XXXXX(Tom) - he told me 4-5 weeks. and now this refusal letter ...
To Sudip Roy

Dear Mr. Roy,

This letter is being written in response to your written refund request. We would like to
briefly inform you of our law firm’s basic fee schedule and how we operate. Our law firm charges standard fees of $8,500.00 or more for most felonies; $4,500.00 or more for most misdemeanors; and $3,500.00 or more for most prefile criminal investigations and interventions.
The fees fluctuate depending on certain details such as the specific facts of the case that are presented to the law firm at the time of retention, the severity of the allegations and the client’s criminal history and background. Like most criminal defense law firms, this law firm does not charge hourly fees. Because this law firm charges flat fees, we do not readily keep records of the work performed on an hourly basis.

Section 2 of the Retainer Agreement "Refundable Retainer", which you read, initialed
and executed clearly outlines that the Retainer is freely negotiated and "based on the apparent facts and complexity of the matter at the time of retention." At the time of retention, we were informed that you were charged with misdemeanor second degree menacing and criminal mischief; therefore we charged a fee of $4,500.00 for your representation as such. This Law Firm was hired to help reduce/minimize the charges if at all possible and to provide guidance and advice throughout the course of the criminal case.
Section 2 further states, "Client/Payor understands that a Retainer is a minimum
engagement fee paid to reserve a Law Firm's commitment to represent the Client, which is itself a thing of value, not a payment for hourly services. The retainer is earned by the Law Firm upon its receipt, and upon the Law Firm's commitment to accept representation of the Client."
By the express terms of this agreement, there is no entitlement to a refund. However, Section 2 does state that if the Client has “good cause” or “legitimate grounds” for a refund, the Law Firm would refund an amount of the paid retainer on a quantum meruit basis. Unfortunately, there are no legitimate grounds or good cause for receiving a refund.

At the time of retention you requested legal representation and legal help. Besides the
initial consultation, our law firm does not offer or provide any other free services. Since this matter was a “flat fee” matter, whether this Law Firm expended 10 hours or 100 hours the fees charged would not change. Upon retention, your attorney, Timothy Wedeen reviewed your file and researched the specific charges against you and looked up your case with the court’s database to confirm the charges and appearance dates. Attorney Wedeen spoke with you on multiple occasions regarding the status of your case and the criminal process. Attorney Wedeen also spoke with your family law attorney at length in order to ensure both parties were up to date regarding your case. After that conversation Attorney Wedeen conducted another review and analysis of your file with the new information that was attained. Thereafter, Attorney Wedeen spoke with your other criminal attorney Mr. Kramer to strategize your defense further. Attorney
Wedeen and Attorney Kramer were both confident, in their professional opinions that a deferred dismissal was a very achievable outcome. Although we never guaranteed an outcome, a deferred dismissal would be considered a very successful result by any standard. Yet, you insisted on fighting the charges all the way. As was Attorney Wedeen’s duty, he informed you that in his professional opinion, taking the charges to trial was not a wise decision, although it is your right.

Attorney Wedeen wiped clear his entire morning schedule of June 13th in order to properly prepare and represent your defense in court. You terminated this law firm on the eve of that June 13th court date and as a result, wasted one half of Attorney Wedeen’s work day.
Based on the facts at hand, there are no legitimate grounds for a refund. You were never guaranteed an outcome or promised any specific result. Attorney Wedeen was confident that your case would be resolved in a very favorable fashion and this law firm was in constant communication with you. Perplexingly, it is usually the clients who are left with convictions on their records who request refunds and are dissatisfied, not those who were likely on the road to deferred dismissals. In this particular case, we strongly feel that we could have achieved a deferred dismissal (in Attorney Wedeen’s professional opinion), essentially leaving you free of the charges, as a direct result of this Law Firm’s representation.

In conclusion, after careful deliberation, we do not find any legitimate reason to refund any amount of the retainer fee. You received competent legal defense and excellent client service.

Our law firm was in constant contact with you, always returned all phone calls within 2 business days and kept you informed of your legal rights throughout this entire process. It is important to note that these specifics do not encompass all the work that was put into this matter in any way as we do not keep readily available record of the billable hours that were applied in defending any one client.

Feel free to contact us should you have any questions.


Michael D. Terani, Esq.
I paid them through my credit card. Can I call my credit card company to dispute the charges as I am being cheated out of this !!!!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
You can try but based on that letter, if the retainer and representation agreement says what they say it does, then you will be held to the agreement and you may want to contact them again and demand that they complete their representation of you in the case, because based on those clauses you will not get your money back if you agreed to those terms.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Attention To:

Dear Mr. Michael D Terani,

According to my AT&T phone records, I made frantic phone calls to your TOLL FREE numbers and the assigned attorney several times, only to hear either the recorded response or the answering service.

Never got the reply back from XXXXX XXXXX. This was totally unprofessional and a breach of contract terms.

Not responding to a client in distress, before the court date and letting him know about anything is not an excuse - no matter how big, popular and reputable you are.

If there are written clauses, and policies you have to cheat money out of your clients, it won't do good in the long run.

Instead of building up the defense my case, and working with me to support me against these false charges - I have to work with the phones - again and again to get hold of your firm - which was never there.

I am already fighting. I will write in 100+ review places in the web, Better Business Bureau, THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA, and in similar places in NY and all other places - just so that people are aware of your two face!

Waiting for a seven day period - so that you can re-think and we can amicably solve this issue.

No representation should translate into no work done - as it is in this case. You have no idea how much distress your answering service and voicemail wait have caused me!

Even when Audrey assured me that I will get my money refund in 4-5 days, I was more interested in getting a fighting response on behalf of me by your firm. (you can ask her that!)

The case is still on, the next date is Aug 02. I do not want Mr. Wooden. Send me a new lawyer and case worker who talks to me and has a plan ready to fight which is not a last minute surprise or compromise to me !!! That's how an honest lawyer/law-firm makes money you have claimed it's not an hourly service!

Represent me in Aug 2, White Plains, NY (IDVC System) but prior to that, run it by me! - OR give me my money back. If you fight -as your messages and advs. (claim on my behalf), I am more than willing to be with you !!!

I request you for the last time, to re-consider your response.

Thanks and Regards,


Sudip Roy

GLIST Deployment

Desk:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

PS: Please respond with-in 7 days as reqeusted through Audrey as well.


This is what I wrote ... Calling and challenging them again to represent me in the fortcoming Aug 2 Court Date ....

What do you think they would do ?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
THE CA Bar is not who you report them to if they are in NY, it would be the NY bar. However, since you want them to represent you, threatening them as you have done is not how to do so. You need to be polite and get them to continue the representation and then you can always make your complaints against them later.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
The reason for the tone is, that they have two faces. One that you hear in their advs., their voicemail waits, and fromtheir case workers before you pay them.

Once you pay them, they vanish like thin air.

I do not know how to be polite and yet make them hold professional enough so that they delvier what they promise through their other face!

You are right about this CA thing ... this is a CA firm after all ... but this contract is done for NY, not for CA.

Any suggestion, that if they have already taken the money, how would they represent me ?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
If you want help from them, threatening them is not how you get it and at this point, since they have taken the money to represent you then they are bound to do so by the contract and if they fail to do so then you have a suit against them for breach of contract. Thus, you need to send them a letter stating you understand their claims that you entered into the contract and they too have entered into that same contract and the contract states they agreed to represent you and so far they have not done so and are in breach of that contract and you are demanding they cure that breach and represent you as the contract states they would do.
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

This is what he wrote back .... I think he should be representing me as he seems to be a nice, responsive person unlike the people who talked on his behalf so far.

Thanks for your help and I will accpet your answer now.

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of Michael Terani
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 2:36 PM

To: Roy, Sudip [ICG-IT]

Subject: Re: Legal Representation

Mr. Roy,

Although you have already received a written response and we are not obligated to respond to you at this time, we will do so in an effort to maintain a respectful relationship. First and foremost, please understand that you have the right to contact any organization, including the state bar(s), BBB, your financial institution and any other entity that will listen to you. Also understand that your threats of frivolous complaints and negative reviews have been documented by your generous emails, and they have not been taXXXXX XXXXXghtly. This law firm will be prepared and willing to defend itself, and moreover, seek civil action for any potential damages caused by your retaliatory actions. This law firm has never had any complaints successfully filed with any state bar or organization and that is a direct result of our genuine concern for our clients and our strong focus on the professional rules of conduct and ethics. Per your emails, I understand that although you are frustrated with Attorney Wedeen, you would be willing to have another one of our of counsel attorneys represent you at your next hearing. Unfrotunately, we don't feel that is a wise option. You have had two competent and skilled criminal attorneys work on this matter and you have falsely accused them both of wrongdoing. As a result, this law firm will not be representing you in any legal proceeding. Furthermore, as you have already been informed in writing, per our agreement, you are not entitled to a refund. You may refer to the letter that was sent to you a few days ago if you are still confused as to why. Nonetheless, in an effort to resolve this matter amicably - and ONLY for that reason - this law firm is willing to refund you $2,000.00. Just to be absolutely clear: Our refund offer is ONLY a showing of good faith to help you and should not be taken as an admission of fault in any way. This money is not owed to you. Your threats have not been taXXXXX XXXXXghtly, however, they did not persuade us in our decision whatsoever. Again, you have the right to publish any negative reviews you wish - as we have the right to take any legal action available to us thereafter.

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
He pretty much told you what I told you above that you would not get representation from them because of all of the threats you had in your message above. However, he has raised that you have filed other complaints against the attorneys and that the firm will not represent you because of the alleged conduct, as such I really do not think he will agree to represent you. You need to make some plans to get another firm or attorney to represent you.