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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I have a hearing tomorrow in housing court. I quit paying

Resolved Question:

I have a hearing tomorrow in housing court. I quit paying my maintenance for cause (co-op building, being harassed by a board member). I could easily have just done this on my own but my lawyer from my other case, in which I am the plaintiff suing the co-op, insisted on handling this too. He would not take any money for it, though I offered. Now it is less than 24 hours before the hearing, and he has not responded to emails, calls or texts. He told me three weeks ago to expect to sit down with him and do at least an hour of prep, he called it a "mock trial". He also failed to include a vitally important piece of my evidence. My stomach is in knots, I feel like I've been abandoned here, and I'm almost in tears. What is going on with him?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. I'm very sorry to hear about your situation.

Have you attempted to physically go over to the attorney's office? Have you been able to contact his staff (if he has any) to ask where he is?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Hi, he doesn't have a staff. He rents a room in a larger law office. The lawyers there say he has not been in today. He has done this before, and it scares me to death. But he's never left me until hours before an important conference like this.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Wow. Well that's not good. I think its highly irresponsible for an attorney to not keep his client informed as to where he is, especially in a situation like this.

I'm afraid at this point, if he does not show, you need to ask the housing court for a continuance. You simply will have to stand up in the court and address them yourself and state that your attorney is missing and request a short continuance on the hearing so that you can locate the attorney (assuming that he doesn't show up).

Generally, a court will not make you proceed without representation where you were under the impression that you would be represented.

Do you know if he has actually filed an appearance before the housing court (i.e., informed the court that he represents you)?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
This is the second time we'll (I'll) be going to housing court on this matter. Immmediately after I received the summons, my lawyer filed my response (which btw, was minus a very important letter that I asked him to include, which I would definitely have included as the centerpiece of my response if I had filed it myself, but he insisted on doing it). There was then an original date of 4/3, that he showed up to, and the plaintiff (co-op board) showed up and requested a continuance. It was after that conference that he told me we were adjourned until 5/7 and to expect to get together with him in advance of that to prepare. In the meantime, I have prepared a detaield chronology, and several videotapes of evidence, etc. and emailed them to him, hoping to jog his memory in case he's forgotten. But again,this is not the first time he's done this.... just the first time it's gone right up to the last second. I can't tell you how sick I am with anxiety over this. He does this to me constantly, and I'm starting to become afraid he is abandoning me, or worse. I will take your advice and ask for a continuance if he doesn't show. But what is your opinion of his behavior? Do you think he wants out of my case?
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Frankly, my opinion is that this is unethical behavior. He is obligated to keep you informed of what is going on and to honor his agreements. If he said "we will get together to prepare" then he should keep that promise. If you have been contacting him for several days trying to get ahold of him, he should return your messages.

If he wants out of the case, he should be up front with you. But what I recommend you do if he shows up today is have a very serious and stern talk with him about this being unacceptable.

What is your deal with him? Are you paying him by the hour? Flat Fee? Contingency???
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Its a partial contingency arrangement. I paid him about $3K when he took over the case to get started, and it's been contingency since then. Granted, it is a complicated case, with this nightmare co-op board, 3 insurance company law firms and these two shareholders that decided they hate me because I'm suing the co-op and started harrassing me.... there's just no end of this, it's destroying my life. I've been patient with my lawyer because he was the only one who would take my case on even partial contingency basis, and even though he's doing this all the time,l I'm stuck with him. But in the meantime, this is making such a mess of my life, I can't even describe it. It's a catastrophe. He knows this.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Hmmm. When you have a case like this where it is difficult, its rare to find someone to take the case on contingency. However, once he's agreed to represent you, he's bound to do his job. If he fails to adequately represent you, or causes you to lose the case because he is negligent, you may file a professional malpractice claim against him. Hopefully he has insurance.

Because this sounds like a doozy of a case to take on contingency, unless you want to end up paying someone else hourly rates, then you need to get him to stick to his side of the agreement. I'd be very up front with him and tell him that he is ethically and professionally obligated to keep in contact with you and honor his agreement, and not do what he is doing right now.

In the end, if he doesn't start doing his job better, you might have no other choice but to fire him and pay someone else to take over.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thanks. That's not the way I hope this goes, but I appreciate the honesty. In the meantime, I have composed an email to him. Would you mind taking a look at this and tell me what you think? I really want to read him the riot act, but I still am hanging onto the thread that I need him and don't want to alienate him.

" (name)

Wish I knew what was going on with you. It’s scaring the hell out of me not to hear from you as late as 8:45 the night before a hearing. Last we spoke, you said I should expect to get together and do some prep before tomorrow. Still don’t know if it was a strategy or an oversight that you didn’t include the centerpiece of my defense, the 9/1 letter to Hampshire, or whether or not you added it to the response. Have tried a few gentle prods, so as not to sound impatient. I know you’re representing me in housing as a favor, extra to our main case, and it is appreciated. But it’s giving me a serious heart attack to not hear from you this late before the date. No kidding.... My stomach is in knots over this to begin with. This magnifies it 10X.

I’m going to show up tomorrow ready to proceed with a hearing. I hope you are too. If not, I guess I will ask the judge for a postponement."
Expert:  TexLaw replied 4 years ago.
Yes. This sounds just fine...not too hard, not too soft.

I hope he shows up.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
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