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Roger, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 31729
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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My lawyer failed my expectations and her own promises, I gave

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My lawyer failed my expectations and her own promises, I gave her a negative review online, and now she wants to drop me because "she cant work with a client who has no confidence in her." The problem is she got paid on a flat fee through the deposition, and she has not started deposing the other party. DOes she owe me the full retainer? can her behaviour be seen a retaliatory and therefore unethical? thank you
Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Real Estate litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.

The attorney would not owe you a full refund, but she would owe you any part of the retainer that she has not earned. In order to determine the amount you're due to be refunded, you can ask the attorney for an itemized statement of her billing against your retainer. Any amount that she has not earned should be refunded.

Her actions are certainly in reaction to your negative review, but the decision should not be considered unethical just because she's decided not to continue with you. Unethical conduct is doing something that breaks the law, criminal activity, breaching attorney/client privileges, taking unearned money that belongs to the client, etc.

If she were to refuse to refund the unearned part of the retainer, that may be an ethical issue you want to address.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

in a flat retainer situation, she was supposed to do certain amount of work. the amount could have been higher has she billed on per hr basis, but she got a lump sum on the spot instead of smaller sums over time. how can the work be prorated fairly under circumstances?

Even if it was a flat fee, the equitable thing would be to pay the attorney for whatever work was performed and return the balance of the money.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

this is exactly what I am trying to understand: when you pay a flat fee. you pay less than what you would have paid en you pay if you paid on per hour basis - just because yo are paying a lump sum in advance. the client loses investment opportunities, as well as an opportunity to hire a lawyer who would actually follow through. what is equitable under the circumstances?

Generally, you would take the retainer amount, take the number of hours that the attorney has spend on your case at her regular rate, figure out what is due and return the balance to you.

For example, if you gave the attorney a $2000 retainer, and the attorney has spent 4 hours on the matter, and the attorney's regular hourly rate is $200/hr., then you would take $800 from the retainer and return $1200 to you.
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