Can I fire my bankruptcy attorney for delayed filing? 13 Answers as of August 31, 2015

I have retained a lawyer and submitted all of the necessary paperwork to their office. I was advised before retaining this lawyer that I was under the median income for my state, and now I'm being told that I'm over because the median changed April 1. The law firm have had my paperwork for 7 weeks. The lawyer hung up on me when I called to ask about this, and basically I"m getting the runaround. I'm filing Chapter 7.

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Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
The median income numbers are changed regularly but I've never heard of them being changed DOWNWARD! The adjustments have always been UPWARD. If you qualified before April 1st, and your income didn't change, you should still qualify. Sounds to me like you were always over the median and the law firm lied that you were eligible for a Chapter 7 to con you into doing unnecessary work or to slam you into a Chapter 13. In either case, such behavior is unethical and should be reported to the U.S. trustee's office and the attorney disciplinary board. If nothing else, you should get all your money refunded. I would certainly advise you not to use a law firm that has shown itself to be dishonest. You should consult another bankruptcy attorney.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/22/2015
Timothy Casey Theisen, P.A. | Tim Theisen
You can definitely hire your attorney, although they may refuse to refund fees that they earned. The median income figures actually went up on April 1, so I'm wondering if the issue is that your income went up in March vs. September. If you were that close, the attorney should definitely have been monitoring the situation, particularly if you had completed all of your homework and paid in full.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 4/21/2015
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
Yes you can.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/21/2015
Charles Schneider, P.C.
Charles Schneider, P.C. | Charles J. Schneider
Yes and it may be possible to get the money you paid the attorney back.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 4/21/2015
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
Although you are always able to fire your bankruptcy attorney, understand that a lot of work goes into preparing a bankruptcy before it is filed and the money you paid will go towards the cost of the work already performed at the attorney's top dollar rate. In these situations, very little of your payment will likely be refunded to you.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/21/2015
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    When lawyers don't do when they are supposed to you can file a complaint with your state bar. It is a common complaint that some lawyers delay the filings. Be wary of a lawyer who does everything (divorce, criminal, probate, civil and bankruptcy). How can one lawyer be good at everything?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C.
    GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
    That would be a yes.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/31/2015
    Thomas Vogele & Associates, APC | Thomas A. Vogele
    It sounds like you chose the wrong lawyer to help you through this difficult and stressful process. You should send the lawyer a letter notifying him/her that you want any fees you paid refunded and that you are going to retain a new lawyer to assist you. Contact your local bar association and ask for a referral (always a good place to start when you need any sort of lawyer) and then meet with and retain a new lawyer to file your petition. Presuming you have all your paperwork you can streamline the process with the new lawyer. If the old lawyer doesn't fully refund your retainer or fees you paid immediately, contact your state bar association and file a complaint. Also file a complaint with the local bar association and the bankruptcy court. Lawyers that take retainers and fees and then leave their clients in the lurch are a scourge on our professional and need to be prohibited from practicing law. Being a lawyer is a privilege, not a right, and no client should ever be treated as you have been. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    You can always fire your attorney but most retainer agreements say they can bill you for the time they have put in, so you may not get a refund of your retainer.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    Idaho Bankruptcy Law | Paul Ross
    Yes. Visit with your state bar too regarding the situation. However, there is a concern with your comment that you qualified for a 7 now and are forced to file a 13 with the April 1 numbers. Typically the numbers adjust upward which means people typically will qualify for a 7 when they presumed to be a 13, not the other way around. It is likely you were in a Ch 13 from the beginning if you are now being told you are in it. Visit with another bankruptcy attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC
    The Law Offices of Ryan F. Beach, PLLC | Ryan Beach
    You have the right to use the attorney of your choice; however, I would suggest looking at your retainer agreement for a provision on cancelling services. A good portion of the fees that you have paid may not be refundable. The state median figures did change on April 1st. However, in Michigan, the median figures increased, which means it should be easier to fall under the median. I would assume that most state median figures increased. You would be able to find the those figures by doing a simple internet search. Being over the median does not automatically disqualify you for Chapter 7 relief. The means test is designed so that over median debtors can demonstrate certain necessary expenditures that would justify Chapter 7 eligibility. Completing the means test for over median debtors can get complicated. So, you want to make sure you have an experienced and competent attorney working on your behalf. If you cannot pass the means test, Chapter 13 relief may be available to you.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    Of course you can discharge your lawyer. A person has the right to the lawyer s/he wants and can afford. A 7-weeks delay is not the longest I have heard of, but it's definitely too long to wait. In my office in most cases we file within a week to ten days after the client gets us the necessary information, and in emergency cases, overnight. Sometimes a filing is delayed because the client has not provided all the required information and as you know, there is a lot. But in that case the lawyer should be contacting you to ask for what he or she needs. I would suggest you contact the lawyer again, by certified letter, return receipt requested, setting out the chronology and insisting that s/he get the papers ready for review and signature and prompt filing within a few days, or else you want a refund. (In addition, lawyers are obliged to be 'diligent,' under the rules governing lawyers. You have the right to file a grievance with the lawyer disciplinary body in your State. But it's definitely best not to use this option as a threat: just do it if you feel it is justified.) Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 4/21/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    You may wish to file for a Chapter 7, the question is if you are able to qualify for that relief. If you are not happy with your attorney then engage another but do realize that you will have to pay for the services rendered and casts incurred.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/21/2015
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