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My attorney sent me a bill for balance after retainer. I…

My attorney sent me...

My attorney sent me a bill for balance after retainer. I asked for an itemization and his response was to just pay him $1000 and he won't itemize. Is this ethical? I also petitioned the court to have my ex pay legal fees and haven't heard a response from my attorney. It's been 3 months.

Lawyer's Assistant: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in?

CA

Lawyer's Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?

We appeared in court in early December. That's all I know.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

This is a case for spousal support. I retained my attorney for $2000 for this particular court filing. It was simple and not much time involved since this was our third court appearance. The attorney had all the prior paperwork. I just want to know if my asking for an itemization of fees charged, and his not responding to that is acceptable. He spent very little time on my case and charges $450/hr.

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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/13/2018
legalgems
legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12,570
Experience: Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

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Per the Rules of Professional Conduct and attorney may only charge a reasonable fee; please see:

Rule 4-200 Fees for Legal Services (A) A member shall not enter into an agreement for, charge, or collect an illegal or unconscionable fee. (B) Unconscionability of a fee shall be determined on the basis of all the facts and circumstances existing at the time the agreement is entered into except where the parties contemplate that the fee will be affected by later events. Among the factors to be considered, where appropriate, in determining the conscionability of a fee are the following: (1) The amount of the fee in proportion to the value of the services performed. (2) The relative sophistication of the member and the client. (3) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly. (4) The likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the member. (5) The amount involved and the results obtained. (6) The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances. (7) The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client. (8) The experience, reputation, and ability of the member or members performing the services. (9) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent. (10) The time and labor required. (11) The informed consent of the client to the fee.

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Portals/0/documents/ethics/2d_RRC/California-Rules-Professional-Conduct.pdf

Normally the attorney will need to substantiate their hours/time upon request of the client so the client can determine if the fee is reasonable.

A complaint can be filed here:

http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Complaints-Claims

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I'm trying to determine if the bill for $3225 is reasonable by asking for an itemization. He's saying he'll only charge $1000 if I don't require an itemization. It's as if I have no choice. It's as if he'll make up something to justify the $3225.I get the legal jargon you sent but I can't interpret it to my case. THAT'S WHY I'M ASKING!I also asked if the court responded to my petition for my fees to be paid and my attorney has not responded to me. Do I contact the court and ask myself?

Yes, so a complaint can be filed with the state bar and the bar may require the attorney to issue an itemization;

similarly one can review the agreement as they typically have an arbitration clause so the fee can be arbitrated.

If there is no justification for the increased bill then the client may contest it based on the code of conduct above.

One can contact the court clerk to determine if an order was issued as to the award of attorney fees and costs.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
We have no written agreement.

Then one may pursue the issue by filing a complaint;

if the client does not pay the attorney can sue in small claims (appropriate for cases under $10,000) and the attorney has the burden of proving the money is owing and that the fee is reasonable.

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