How can I get my retainer fee back from my attorney? 41 Answers as of July 08, 2013

Can I get a retainer fee back if attorney does not show up in court? I contacted the office and they won't return my call.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
Ultimately, retainers are subject to written contracts called fee agreements. The language of the written contract controls whether any fees are refundable. In some situations legal fees are not refundable.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 11/11/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
File a complaint with the attorney grievance commission.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/21/2011
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
You can fire an attorney at any time for any reason. You should do it in writing. You are entitled to any part of your retainer back that the attorney didn't actually do work on your case.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 10/21/2011
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
Call the State Bar of Michigan in Lansing and they will tell you about the grievance procedure.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/21/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
If the attorney did not earn the fee, you should be able to get it back by asking. Maybe a personal visit to the office would help. Otherwise, you could file a grievance with the attorney grievance commission.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    Contact this attorney by writing a letter send it certified. Request an explanation as to why he was not in court on your behalf. Depending on his explanation, and what, if any, action he may plan to take to correct the problem, demand that he refund your money.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones
    The Law Office of B. Elaine Jones | B. Elaine Jones
    If the attorney did not show up for court, and he/she did not have a great reason for not showing up and now they won't return your call, I would report them to the Florida Bar. That will not get your money back but it will stop the attorney from doing such things in the future. You may want to call the law office again and advise them that if you do not get your retainer back you are going to report the attorney to the bar. That may give them the incentive they need to refund your money.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Contact the state bar. Number is on line, can actually lodge complaint there. Contact your local bar association to arrange for a mediation. Send attorney letter [keep copy] certified demanding fee return. Hire a new attorney to demand the file andd tale over the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Keyser Law Firm
    Keyser Law Firm | Christopher W. Keyser
    Attorney's fees must be reasonable. If this attorney accepted payment from you but failed to attend court and cannot otherwise justify earning the amount of money taken from you, the fee may be considered unreasonable. I recommend sending a certified letter to the attorney's office so that you can track receipt of that letter. If your inquiries remain unanswered, you should contact the Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility to file a complaint. While the Lawyers Board does not handle fee disputes, it can look into whether this attorney is charging unreasonable and unjustified fees.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Office of Charles J. Block
    Law Office of Charles J. Block | Charles J. Block
    I would suggest you contact the attorney's office one more time and inform him/her that if they do not at least speak with you, you will have no alternative but to contact the local ethics board.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    You can file a fee dispute with the bar association of the county you are in.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Call the State Bar of Texas.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    File a grievance with the state bar.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    An attorney is obligated to represent you and show up in court for your cases if you have retained him. If he is not doing his job or is not showing up you have a right to fire him and/pr ask for your retainer or at least part of your retainer back. If he doesn't return it, you can always sue him in small claims court and/or report him to the state bar with a grievance. Call him and leave him a message saying you are going to file a grievance in 24 hours unless you hear from him. That should get his attention.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    You have not told me how much you gave your attorney or what he has done on your case. If he missed an appearance and got an adjournment that is typical and not a reason to worry or complain. Contact your attorney and discuss the matter. Lawyers often have conflicts in their schedule, but good attorneys contact the court and client and advise them of the conflict. Scheduling problems are common, but a lawyer who does not tell you or the court about the problem is not competent and should be replaced by a more competent attorney who will notify the court or client of conflicts.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    You can but you're better off contacting the state bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    You have now entered into contract law. Look at the fee agreement to see what it says about refunds of retainer fees. The State Bar of California has a rule that an attorney if called upon has to demonstrate that he has worked for the fees he retains.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    It really depends on fee agreement. If hourly retainer and fee was exhausted then no. If a balance remains it should be refunded. If a flat rate and the work was not completed then a refund less a reasonable amount for work performed should be returned. NH Bar association has a fee dispute resolution process. You should try attorney again and if no response contact bar association.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C.
    Law Offices of Kenneth Wincorn P.C. | Kenneth Wincorn
    Contact the Texas State Bar. File a complaint if he does not respond to you after you demand your file and return of your money.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Possibly. There is a fee arbitration procedure. Try searching for it online. Maybe "NY attorney fee dispute arbitration" would get you there.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/20/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    Send this lawyer a letter demanding a return of your money, and send it certified mail. If he fails to respond to you within a reasonable time period, you can file a civil claim in the court of small claims, or you can report this to the attorney registration and disciplinary commission in your State.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | Melissa Hoffman
    You absolutely have the right to terminate your attorney at any time and request a full refund of any fees remaining in your retainer account. If your attorney continues to ignore your calls, send a letter stating your desire to no longer be represented by him/her and request an accounting of all fees that have been billed and a refund of the unused portion of your retainer. If your attorney continues to ignore your requests, consult another attorney who can assist you in getting back your money, your client file, and possibly filing a complaint with the Board of Bar Overseers.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    bark & karpf
    bark & karpf | peter bark
    Document all your attempts to contact the attorney, and then make a complaint to your local Bar Association.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    I don't know, it depends on the contract you all signed. However, you can always call the State Bar of Texas and complain about him.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Shane Law Office
    Shane Law Office | Robert J. Shane
    Yes, you should be able to have your retainer fee returned. You can fire your criminal attorney at anytime with or without cause. The retainer fees in criminal cases are no longer nonrefundable. The lawyer is only entitled to keep an amount of money equal to the reasonable value of his legal services for the time he put into your case. If the lawyer continues to refuse to return the balance of the retainer fee, threaten to report him to the Board of Professional Responsibility for an ethics violation. This should spring the money out of him in no time.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Prater, Duncan & Craig, LLC
    Prater, Duncan & Craig, LLC | John D Duncan
    You may be able to get your retainer back, depending on what type of contract or arrangement you set up with your attorney. Attorneys are supposed to make clear what work they will perform for you and at what amount, which should be reflected in some sort of written document. If there is no contract, that does not mean your case against the attorney is dead; only that your case will be more difficult to prove. What you need to find out is the reason your attorney did not appear in court. There are instances where conflicts prohibit an appearance, but such a conflict must be brought to the court's attention. Your attorney may also have moved the court date without your knowledge. Before you begin suit against your attorney, you should know the reason they did not show up and what harm has befallen you as a result.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Thomas Humphrey, Attorney at Law
    Thomas Humphrey, Attorney at Law | Thomas Humphrey
    You are entitled to refund of your retainer if the attorney has not performed the legal services that he or she agreed to provide you. If the attorney does not respond to your telephone calls, send him or her a letter. If that does not work, you should contact the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    If there is an employment contract between you and your attorney, first read the language to determine if the retainer fee is refundable and for what reasons. If it seems that it is refundable, then go to his office and demand to see him. If you continue to be unable to speak to him, then contact the State Disciplinary Board in Topeka and file a formal complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco
    The Law Offices of Victor J Mazzaraco | Victor J Mazzaraco
    Styart by threatening to report him or her to the Bar Association. Say you'll write a letter bad-mouthing them in the local paper. Bad publicity is a killer to us, and I think he'll respond if you take this approach.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    The Purnell Law Firm
    The Purnell Law Firm | Simon Purnell
    It really depends on the language in the retainer agreement. Regardless, you really need to find out what happened to your attorney and whether you can continue in the attorney client relationship if you feel uncomfortable with their dedication to your case.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    It depends on whether it was a non-refundable retainer or not. If the attorney is not returning your phone calls and failing to appear in court, you might want to consider filing a complaint with the Bar Association. You should also let the judge in your case know of your situation. I would start by paying a visit to the lawyer's office and reminding him or her who he works for.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    What does your retainer agreement say? That is where I would start. The next question is, why he didn't show up for court? Has the retainer fee been fully consumed by prior attorney time and costs? Are you current with your fees paid to the attorney? I don't have enough info. If he has done nothing toward your case, then I would send him a letter demanding your retainer fees. If that does not work, contact the Bar Association..
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    THE LAMPEL FIRM
    THE LAMPEL FIRM | ERIC LAMPEL
    Advise the lawyer's office you are filing a Bar complaint and do so unless he returns the money asap. Call the bar association and file a complaint if you are ignored.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    Write him a letter giving him 5 days to return your retainer since he didn't do any work. If he claims he did some work demand an intemized billing. Tell him in the letter that unless you get your retainer in five days you will contact the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Attorney Paul Lancia
    Attorney Paul Lancia | Paul Lancia
    Send him a letter requesting the return of your fee and give him 10 days, after that call the Bar.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    You should contact the Board of Professional Responsibility and file a complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein
    Law Office of Neal L. Weinstein | Neal L. Weinstein
    Contact the Board of Overseers in Augusta and file a complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Maine
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Depends. Most attorneys do not return money. I think you need to explain why he did not appear in court. If the attorney had a conflict, and told the court where he was, then he did not abandon you in court.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 10/19/2011
    Swann-Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC
    Swann-Zwiebel Law Firm, LLC | Elizabeth Swann
    You can fire your attorney by simply saying "your services are no longer required." Then request that any amount of retainer left unused be returned to you.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 10/19/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 6 7 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney