We feel they should give us a little money back but since they won't return our calls, what should we do? 20 Answers as of January 15, 2013

My husband and I were getting a divorce then decided to reconcile. We each only have seen our lawyers twice. They told us to call back in six months and make sure we will stay married. Well I hanged, called mine five times. No return calls. My husband just went to his lawyer’s office and asked for a print out of the hours he has worked for him. Of course, we had to pay up front.

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Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
It depends on the terms of the hire. If you paid a retainer and the lawyer charged you hourly against that retainer, then you should demand, and you should receive an accurate accounting of the hours spent. If you paid a flat fee, then you may have wasted some money. I would write to the lawyer, and in the letter, specify all of the times that you called (dates and approximate times), and demand an accounting. If the lawyer does not respond, then the letter will be evidence of the phone messages. I would contact the Grievance Commission, and when you fill out the grievance, include a copy of the letter.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/15/2013
Coulter's Law
Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
Your husband had the right idea. If the lawyers refuse to account for their time, threaten to file an ethics complaint.
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 1/8/2013
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Fee disputes may be arbitrated through the laocal bar [call and complain] or may be the state bar. If calls are not being returned, send letter to bar with a cc copy to the attorney. 10 to 1 you get a call.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/8/2013
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
Money back because you change your mind is not a good reason to expect someone to act in accord with your emotions. If you paid a fee and it was reasonable forget. You don't have any idea how much time or paper work the lawyer has involved and most fees are not refundable when people change their minds
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 1/8/2013
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Get a hold of your respective retainer agreements. Depending on what is written there, you may be entitled to a partial refund. You may have to file a complaint with the local grievance committee.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 1/8/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Read your retainer agreements with the lawyers.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/8/2013
    Lombardi Law Firm
    Lombardi Law Firm | Steve Lombardi
    File a complaint with the county bar association fee dispute committee.
    Answer Applies to: Iowa
    Replied: 1/8/2013
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Often retainers on divorce cases are non-refundable regardless of hours. Attorneys are entitled to charge non-refundable deposits, but they must be reasonable. A typical non-refundable deposit is $1,500.00 in most counties in S.C.. While this may seem unfair, unfortunately for most attorneys, a large percentage of clients fail to pay fees earned after the initial deposit. Also, by agreeing to take your case, the attorney has set aside a certain amount of time that the attorney could have used on other cases. There is a fee dispute resolution procedure available through the S.C. Bar Association if you cannot resolve the matter with your attorney.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 1/8/2013
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC
    The Lucky Law Firm, PLC | Robert Morrison Lucky
    The type of agreement that you have will dictate how much money, if any, will be owed back to you from your attorneys. Was it a flat fee agreement or was it a deposit/retainer with a per hour charge? Your attorneys are bound by many rules and I am sure that they will see to it that any money you are owed will be returned.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/8/2013
    Law Offices of Sandeep G. Agarwal
    Law Offices of Sandeep G. Agarwal | Sandeep G. Agarwal
    If you are not getting a response from your lawyer's office, try one more time, and this time send them a correspondence in writing. If you still do not get a response, contact the State Bar. Lawyers listen to the State Bar even if they do not listen to their clients.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/8/2013
    Oliver & Duncan | Donald E. Oliver
    A family law matter should be an hourly case. Whatever you put in at first goes into the lawyer's client trust account where it stays until he earns and bills the time or expends it for costs such as filing fees and whatnot. If your lawyer is not answering your call, write him or her a letter and ask for a complete printout of all funds received and billed. If you have issues with what you get, you can call the PLF (you can get the number on the State Bar's website).
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    The refund is guided by the retainer agreement you signed. If the money is owed back you can bring a claim and also file a grievance with the Connecticut bar association.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Russell Rubin | Russell Rubin
    It would be best to document your request for a bill in writing. Most contracts have terms for billing and for client's request for billing. Don't be afraid to tell them the contract terms regarding billing. If you don't get a response to the written request, then perhaps you should contact the State Bar.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP
    Dwyer, Black & Lyle, LLP | Kevin Habberfield
    Look at your retainer agreement. It should be spelled out in there.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    You can contact the Office of Lawyer Regulation, which is an arm of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Madison. While they cannot get money for you as a result of malpractice, they certainly can wake the lawyer up and require him to give you an accounting, and a refund of unearned fees. These are some of the rules which govern lawyers, and which O.L.R. helps to enforce. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    The reconciliation rarely work because you are still you and he is not Dr. Phil. So consider the payment a marker for the future.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Hirsch, Closson, McMillan & Schroeder, APLC
    Hirsch, Closson, McMillan & Schroeder, APLC | Paul Schroeder
    If you feel your attorneys' fees are unreasonable you should contact your state bar association and/or your county bar association to see if they have a mechanism to help resolve this. In California, all county bar associations run a fee arbitration program which lawyers are required to participate in.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    What does your retainer agreement say? Sometimes retainers say the lawyer gets to keep the retainer amount if the couple reconciles. The retainer agreement you signed will govern whether they have to pay you back.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Peters Law, PLLC
    Peters Law, PLLC | Mark T. Peters, Sr.
    If you believe that a lawyer is acting unethically, complain to the State Bar of Idaho. There are people there whose job it is to investigate unethical lawyers. Having said that, it still may be that your respective lawyers earned the amount you paid up front. As far as your lawyer goes, you should have received itemized bills stating how the retainer was used. Go through those first, then write your attorney and ask for a final accounting.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 1/4/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    If you do not get a response contact the State Bar Association and file a complaint. The attorney is to provide a record of time spent on the matter. In addition he must provide your file material to you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/4/2013
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