This post is a continuation of a series regarding legal fee disputes with an attorney.
In How To Dispute Attorney Fees – Part 1, I covered the two mediums used by most local bar associations, a fee dispute mediation or a fee dispute arbitration; and in some states, both are used. Also, I shared that your state’s fee dispute programs are not the only option to an attorney refund and that you should seriously consider my eBook, Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, to fully understand all your options.
Now Let’s Continue
Let me say from the onset that I cannot make a recommendation to the path that is correct for you since legal fee disputes are complicated. Like any legal matter, there are unique circumstances and the particulars of your case matters. For me, I went the route of a fee dispute arbitration with one attorney and was successful in recouping some of my attorney fees. However, even with this success, it was a very time-consuming effort, and I made mistakes. Therefore, should you decide to try this alone without the guidance of Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, I would encourage you to hire an Ethics & Professional Responsibility attorney who has experience with fee dispute arbitrations. You have one shot, and should you fail, attorney fees cannot be litigated again.
Having a signed employment contract with your attorney for legal services is a prerequisite for legal fee disputes; without it, your recourse will be limited. Basically, all of the options that I discuss in my eBook are hinged upon a signed contract between you and your attorney.
Correspondence with both your attorney and your local bar association must be in writing from the named client in the contract. If you are ghostwriting for a spouse or relative, just make sure that they approve the outgoing communication and that it is signed by them and in their name. Otherwise, your attorney is under no obligation to respond, and your local bar association is likely to reject your legal fee dispute petition.
Moreover, it is imperative that you understand the most fundamental element of legal fee disputes – unearned fees. Simply stated, damages and State Bar grievances are not heard should you successfully advance to a legal fee dispute hearing.
Kenneth R. Gilley is the President of Kenneth R. Gilley & Co., LLC, a small digital marketing company. He is the author of the e-book, Dispute It – A Layman’s Guide on How to Get an Attorney Refund & File a Bar Grievance, and regularly contributes to his blog, My.LegalLessons.com. Ken holds a B.S. in Marketing from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, LA, and lives in The Woodlands, TX.