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Ask TexLaw Your Own Question
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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"fixed fee" for representaton

Customer Question

I paid an attorney in Ohio a "fixed fee" in anticipation of a possible criminal case involving my employer. My employer sent police detectives to my office threatening to press charges on a purchasing card fraud case that was developing in my department in Sept 2005. Fearing my employee was pressuring me with false charges, I contacted a local attorneys office and put $3750 down as a fixed fee. $250 went to a lie detector test (that I passed) and the rest was put into an account for my defense of the charges. Three years after no charges were filed and I went to the law office for advice and a return of my fees. I was advised that I should wait 7 years for the statute of limitations to expire and then I could collect my fee because the case would be dead. I waited over seven years (2012) and charges were not filed and no case was created. Just a day ago the law firm said that they would have to investigate this account and that the hourly charges of the investigation would eat the fees I paid up?? That does not sound right because during the 7 year period the law firm did not advise me about any expenses that occurred and the agreement was a fixed fee for representation if charges were filed. Am I entitled to a refund of my fees on deposit with this law firm? If there was no case, what expenses could have incurred to deplete the fee. It seems to me that I can't get a straight answer any more from this team of lawyers

Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question.

Whether or not you are entitled to a return of the fee depends entirely on the terms of your attorney-client agreement.

Did you retain a copy of the agreement so that you can refer to it?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes I did

Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.

If possible, I need you to scan it to your computer and email it as an attachment [email protected]


If you do this, I can take a look at it and answer your question regarding your options.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have just emailed a copy.


Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Thanks Tom,

This sometimes takes a while to get to me. So you may want to check back in a few hours. Sorry for the delay and I will get back to you as soon as I receive the document.

Best Regards,
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
I am now in receipt of your fee agreement and have reviewed the same.

By the terms of the agreement, it states that the fee is non-refundable. However, the term in the form agreement seems to be crossed out. It is impossible for me to determine whether this was done by the attorney or with the attorney's agreement as there is no initial by the cross-out and the attorney does not seemed to have signed the agreement.

Can you tell me whether when you signed the agreement that the attorney agreed to the crossing-out of this particular term?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes... when I signed the agreement is when Mr. Rion struck out that section.

In 2008 I met with one of the associate attorneys, Mathew Barbato, and he was the one that recommended me to wait 7 years to be sure no charges could be filed and then I could get a refund.

Again there was no case, no charges, no representation from his law firm.

This is a well know law firm in my city and I thought that they were up front. My meeting with a Keven Lennen on May 1, 20013 was the start of what I think was them trying to cloud the issue of the fee refund. He said that the funds were still available but that his firms hourly charges would eat up the moneys held in their account and wouldn't detail what work was still needed to be done.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

You said:

It is impossible for me to determine whether this was done by the attorney or with the attorney's agreement as there is no initial by the cross-out and the attorney does not seemed to have signed the agreement.

The attorney did sign the agreement as well. The signature is not too legable but it is signed at the bottom after the word "By:"


Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your response.

Did the attorney agree to the cross out?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Funds held in "trust" for a client by an attorney are there to be billed against. Since he agreed to cross that portion of the agreement out, I would expect for the amount at question here to be billed against for the work performed, and then the remainder should be returned.

Since they have held the money for a long time (which to me seems suspicious), what I would recommend is that you contact the Supreme Court and file a complaint against the lawyer.

You can do that by following the directions located on the following page: