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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102505
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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2 yrs I was a client of a firm helping me with debt

Customer Question

For almost 2 yrs I was a client of a firm helping me with debt consolidation (7 lines of credit). Only 1 card was paid off. I then considered bankruptcy and met with a NJ attorney. I signed papers and called the consolidation lawyers next day - to quit. Immediately a new agent took the case and said by week's end 'Discover card' would be paid.
'DON'T FILE PAPERS YET' I sent an email to the bankruptcy lawyer, 'I MIGHT HAVE A CHANCE TO CONSOLIDATE..KEEP YOU UPDATED' I emailed, I called, I had a conversation - with this attorney.'Okay, I'll wait to hear from you'
After most of the cards were paid, I called the bankruptcy attorney 'I'M NOT GOING TO FILE. THANKS, ***** ***** MY RETAINER. ($1500.)' 'I HAVE TO LOOK AT YOUR FILES'
Later he said he'd worked '2 hrs' on my report, papers, filing, etc. He'd bill me @ $750. I emailed that 1. Credit report: Free. 2. ASKED NOT TO FILE 3. Papers - never got copy - just signed.
I expected to pay SOMETHING - just not $750. it was over-billing.
HE SENT THE CHECK with his letterhead, dated and signed. NO AMOUNT - BLANK.
Can I write the amount and cash it - legally? To be fair, I'd pay him $100. for his time; about 20 minutes and write in the amount of $1400.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. A check that is sent mistakenly blank is an obvious error. If someone in your situation files it, then the attorney is likely to sue under unjust enrichment (see Associates Commercial Corp. v. Wallia, 511 A. 2d 709 - NJ: Appellate Div. 1986) or another type of recovery action.

So what someone in your situation may wish to do is not to unilaterally write in an amount and deposit the check, but too deal with this matter in the FEE ARBITRATION option available. See HERE.

This may assure that the matter is settled without further action, and would have a third party decide on what is fair. (Lots of times, the attorney will simply drop the claim once one initiates the fee arbitration.)

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Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Hello again. This is a courtesy check in to see if you needed anything else in regards ***** ***** question because you never responded or replied positively. I am simply touching base. Let me know. Thanks!