Can I Fire My Lawyer? Yes, But You May Still Have to Pay Him

Can I Fire My LawyerDespite having a written contingency fee contract with your lawyer, you can fire him at any time. However, depending on your reasons for firing him, you may still owe him a fee. In most jurisdiction, though not all, if you do owe him a fee, it will be based not on your contingency fee contract, but rather on quantum meruit (meaning “how much is merited”). Depending on when you fire your lawyer during the litigation, this can range from a relatively small sum up to the entire percentage you agreed to in the contingency fee contract (in a few jurisdictions it can even exceed the contracted amount). If you hire a new lawyer after firing the old, there are circumstances under which you could wind up paying a double attorney fee. So, before you fire your lawyer, consider the odds of having to pay him a fee, how much that fee might be, and how this will affect your overall recovery in the case.

Don’t Fire Your Lawyer Unless You Have To

Firing your lawyer should not be a decision made in haste, or in the heat of the moment. It should be a last resort, because it can often create more problems than it solves. Over the years, I’ve received numerous phone calls from plaintiffs who wanted to fire their current lawyers, and the vast majority had one thing in common — they had not had a face-to-face meeting with their current lawyers to address the issues which caused them to want to part ways. Almost all personal injury plaintiffs at one time or another have doubts about their lawyers. Often this arises from a failure by the lawyer to effectively communicate with the client.

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Your lawyer may be doing everything he should as far as your lawsuit is concerned, but if he fails to return phone calls or fails to explain why your lawsuit is taking so long, he can leave you with the impression that he doesn’t care about your case or isn’t pursuing it diligently. If you need reassurance that your lawyer is moving your case along as he should, it is often helpful to schedule a phone conference (so there’s no chance you won’t get called back) or a sit-down meeting to discuss how your case is progressing (or why your case is being held up). Most lawyers prioritize working client files over keeping their clients informed about said work (which is often viewed by lawyers as “hand holding”). Based primarily on a few “problem” clients over the years who expect a law school education every time they call for a status update, many lawyers procrastinate when it comes to contacting their clients for fear of being trapped on the phone forever. So, if it seems like your lawyer is ducking you, it’s probably due to the sins of a former long-winded client (unless you also happen to be one of those long-winded clients). If you have a heart-to-heart with your lawyer and show him that you value his time, this will usually fix communication problems.

Of course, not every problem with your lawyer is a mere lack of communication. If your lawyer seems unprepared, such as at depositions or mediation, this is a legitimate cause for concern. If your lawyer talked tough at the beginning of your case, but now that it appears that you may have to go to trial he’s ready to fold like a cheap suit for an unreasonably low settlement offer, this is also a huge problem. These issues are usually something that can’t be fixed, so it is best to start looking for a new lawyer as soon as they arise.

If you are thinking of firing your lawyer, I strongly encourage you to have at least one face-to-face meeting with your lawyer to air your concerns before firing him. If your lawyer cannot alleviate your concerns during this meeting, then by all means try to find another lawyer. Just know that firing your lawyer carries with it a lot of headaches.

If You Fire Your Lawyer, It May Be Harder to Find a New One

Finding a new lawyer after you’ve fired (or are ready to fire) your old one will likely be more difficult than hiring a lawyer from scratch. Lawyers are wary of clients who’ve fired another lawyer. You could be an unreasonable “problem client”, or you could have an abrasive personality. You’ll likely be less trusting than a client who never had a prior issue with his or her lawyer. Even if the potential new lawyer blames the old lawyer for the firing, he may be reluctant to take a case that may have already been screwed up by that lawyer. Finally, the potential new lawyer may have concerns about you owing the old lawyer a fee. Your new lawyer could be faced with two equally distasteful options:

  1. Agree to take a smaller fee to offset the amount you may old the old lawyer; or
  2. Take a full fee, and risk you not being willing to settle because of the amount you’ll have to pay to both lawyers.

This brings us to the million dollar question: Do you have to pay your old lawyer a fee, and, if so, how much?

Do I Owe a Fee to the Lawyer I Fired?

If you fire your lawyer without good cause (e.g., you have no complaint with your current firm, but you just decided that you’d rather have your son-in-law’s law firm take the case) you will definitely owe the discharged lawyer a fee. Whether this fee will be the full amount of the contingency fee contract, or quantum meruit, will vary from state to state. The majority of states hold that an attorney who is discharged before the contingency in the contract takes place (a monetary recovery), even without good cause, is only entitled to quantum meruit (and of course, because we lawyers need to make things overly complicated, the issue of how this quantum meruit amount is determined varies from state to state, and even from case to case within the same state — more on this later).

If you fire your lawyer with good cause, the majority of states will not allow the fired attorney to recover any fee. In a minority of states, most notably Texas, an attorney who is discharged even for good cause may recover a fee — in these jurisdictions, only when the attorney’s actions rise to the level of outright misconduct (usually a serious ethics violation), will the attorney be denied any fee.

What is “Good Cause” for Firing a Lawyer?

Anything that constitutes a serious ethics violation would easily qualify as “good cause” to fire your lawyer. For example, if your lawyer has a conflict of interest (e.g., he’s representing both the passenger and driver of a car in an automobile accident case against a third party, and it becomes apparent that the passenger should also sue the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding), if your lawyer asks you to lie (or even commit perjury) about your claim, or if your lawyer advises you to defraud your medical lienholders (e.g., lie to your health insurer about what injuries are related to the case), these would most likely be sufficient grounds to deny the fired lawyer a fee in every jurisdiction.

Unfortunately (for purposes of simplifying this article — fortunately for real world clients), clients rarely fire their lawyers for offenses so egregious. More often, a perceived lack of diligence by the lawyer (not moving your case forward as quickly as possible), a difference of opinion over the value of the case, or a lack of communication by the lawyer with the client for a significant amount of time will be the “good cause” for the lawyer’s discharge cited by the client. Whether these actions, or inactions, rise to the level of good cause sufficient to completely deny a fired lawyer any fee (in the majority of jurisdictions which don’t require misconduct) will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. This uncertainty about whether you will owe your old lawyer a fee is the main reason I encourage people to try to work it out with their lawyers before firing them. Neither you nor your former lawyer want to have to litigate the fee issue. It is a lot of extra work which neither of you need, which is why these disputes are usually compromised in all but the most contentious cases — this ironically creates the lack of caselaw which could help to remove the uncertainty for future lawyers and clients.

How is Quantum Meruit Determined?

If you owe the fired attorney a fee based on quantum meruit, get ready for more uncertainty. Most judges will apply a “totality of the circumstances” standard in determining what a fair fee is under quantum meruit. It could be a fee based on the average hourly rate of lawyers with similar skill and experience as the fired lawyer and the time expended by the fired lawyer. States are divided as to whether this amount is capped by the contingency fee percentage in the original contract, so in theory, some states will allow a discharged lawyer to recover more under quantum meruit than he would have received if he took the originally contracted percentage of the ultimate recovery — yikes!

Quantum meruit could be also be based on the percentage of the work done by the old lawyer relative to the amount done by a subsequent lawyer. Of course, this presumes that you’re in a jurisdiction which will limit the total fees for both the fired lawyer and the subsequent lawyer to the percentage stated in the contract signed by the original lawyer. Not all do. In theory, some will allow both the new lawyer and the fired lawyer to recover their full contingency fee percentages, or let the fired lawyer recover an amount in quantum meruit which is roughly equivalent, leaving the client with a meager percentage of the total recovery.

Settlement tip

Just know that if it’s likely that the fired lawyer will be entitled to quantum meruit fees, the court which decides such fees has an enormous amount of discretion in determining what amount is “fair”. You and your former lawyer will really be at the judge’s mercy.

Protect Yourself When Hiring a New Lawyer

Aside from doing a better job screening your new lawyer than you did your last, you must be absolutely clear with the new lawyer how his fee will be determined in light of the fact that you may owe your old lawyer a fee. The best deal for you would be if your new lawyer agrees to limit his fees to the percentage stated in the contract with the initial lawyer, minus the fees that you must pay to the old lawyer. With this type of arrangement, you are no worse off (at least as far as fees are concerned) than you were with the original lawyer.

Settlement tip

Not all lawyers will agree to this, especially if the old lawyer may have a large fee claim (or a claim to a full fee, as a lawyer in a state like Texas could). It would be in your best interests to discuss the possible fee arrangements with a new lawyer before terminating your old one so that you can weigh the pros and cons of firing the old lawyer more effectively.

It may be that you could come to some kind of compromise with the new lawyer, whereby your new lawyer agrees to limit his fees to the lesser of (1) the original contracted percentage, minus your old lawyer’s fees and (2) a fixed percentage of the total value of the case, such as 20%. This way, your new lawyer would be guaranteed at least a 20% fee, and you would be guaranteed that you would pay no more than the old attorney’s fee + 20%. It’s not an ideal arrangement for either side (and may not be allowed in jurisdictions which limit the total fee for all lawyers to the amount of the original contract), but agreements under which neither party is happy tend to be the most fair to both sides.

When to Fire Your Lawyer — Better Sooner Than Later

If you have made the decision to fire your lawyer, it is better to act upon it sooner rather than later. Allowing the soon-to-be-fired lawyer to continue to work on your case will only drive up the amount of fees to which he may be entitled after you fire him. Of course, I still recommend trying to work it out with him first, and checking with possible new lawyers to see what fee arrangement you face before telling your lawyer he’s fired. However, you need to pursue these two steps quickly and diligently once you start leaning towards firing your lawyer.

In other words, don’t be hasty in making the decision to fire your lawyer, but once that decision has been made, don’t wait to pull the trigger.

Liens the Fired Lawyer May Assert

There are two liens which are available to a discharged lawyer who believes that he is entitled to a fee: the charging lien and the retaining lien. In most jurisdictions, a charging lien can only be asserted if the lawyer filed a lawsuit on your behalf (if you fired him pre-suit, this lien won’t apply). The charging lien is usually asserted by your former lawyer by filing a Notice of Charging Lien with the court in the active lawsuit. The purpose of the Notice is to inform all of the parties to the lawsuit that the lawyer is claiming a right to some part of any settlement or judgment you may obtain.

If you settle or win your case, and the defendant pays you without honoring the charging lien, he may be liable to the former attorney for the full fee he ignored. For this reason, most defendants will want an assurance that the charging lien is dealt with (either paid or invalidated) before you get paid. They may pay the amount in dispute into the court (this is called interpleader), which will then disburse the funds (to either you, your lawyer, or divided among both) when the fee dispute is resolved. In some cases, the defendant may accept an agreement by your current attorney to hold the disputed funds in his trust account until the fee issue is resolved. Either way, the charging lien is an effective way for your former lawyer to ensure that you don’t spend the amount you may owe him before he can pursue his claim. This lien only applies to proceeds from the lawsuit. The lawyer cannot file a charging lien against any of your other assets.

A retaining lien allows your former lawyer to hold onto your case file (and refuse to give it to you or your new lawyer) unless and until an agreement is reached regarding his fees, and in many cases, costs. Even in cases where you may not owe your old lawyer a fee, you may still owe him his costs which must be either paid or guaranteed before he must release your file. Depending on the jurisdiction and the language of your fee contract, you may not have to pay his costs before receiving your file, if the costs, like his fees were part of the contingency (e.g. “no costs owed unless you win”). You will still likely need to pay them if you make a recovery.

Even if your former lawyer doesn’t assert any liens, he may still pursue his fee against you by way of a lawsuit. So if you know that your old lawyer expects a fee, don’t feel safe in ignoring his claim just because he didn’t assert any liens.

So Should I Fire My Lawyer or Not?

Only you can decide if your lawyer’s conduct warrants having to deal with the potential fee issues which will arise should you fire him. If this article gave you pause as to your decision to fire your lawyer, good. Fee disputes are a messy area of law, and the rules for resolving them vary widely from state to state. Even in states where the law is clear, issues regarding the amount of quantum meruit compensation to be awarded remain largely a matter for judges to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Before giving your lawyer the “Donald Trump” treatment, talk to a few prospective new lawyers to see how they feel about your odds of having to pay your old lawyer a fee, and what kind of deal you can expect from them if you will owe the old lawyer a fee. Try to nail down as many moving parts in this uncertain area of law before firing your lawyer.

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146 Responses to Can I Fire My Lawyer? Yes, But You May Still Have to Pay Him

  1. Sasha [last name removed by admin] says:

    Hi I’m in Georgia. My auto accident was 10/3/14. A guy in a F150 backed into my Nissan Maxima’s front passenger & back passenger where my daughter was seated. The tail gate was down which plowed into my car. The guy called his insurance company & admitted being at fault. So my lawyer is saying the medical provider’s had hisself and I to sign a lien. My lawyer says the insurance company made 2 offers, the highest on me being $5600 after all medical expenses & attorney fee $1600 left. ONLY if the medical providers agree to a reduction in their bills, also this stands for my daughter. So basically if they dont agree I will be left with nearly NOTHING! The highest offer on my daughter $3500 with $720 left after everything. I want to fire my lawyer because I think he’s lying when he said if I dont take settle then the next step is court which could take years. My question is what should I do? I have a representative that’s willing to charge only 10% & of course my lawyer fee is 30%. PLEASE HELP.. UR ADVISE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.

    I also want to know since lawyer says he’s required by law to pay the medical bills, If I fired him & used the representative, is he also required to pay off the medical bills? I’m confused by it all & need more advice because I don’t want to screw up & I don’t want to be screwed over! This is the 3rd car accident my daughter has been in and she’s only 4 years old!!!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I’m not sure if you understand what your lawyer is saying about the settlement. He’s just saying that while the amounts the insurer is offering are low, they won’t pay any more unless you file suit, and that a lawsuit could take years. That much is probably true. There’s nothing he can do to force the insurer to offer more, short of suing. They may offer more money after suit is filed. They may not. Your lawyer might not be willing to sue for such a small case, but you haven’t said that he told you that. He may be willing to sue, and is just bracing you for the fact that it could take a while. That’s just being honest.

      With respect to whether your lawyer has to pay the doctors who treated you under a letter of protection, this depends on whether your lawyer himself signed the agreement with the doctor, and whether him signing such an agreement is ethical under your state’s bar rules. States vary in what they allow lawyers to do when it comes to letters of protection, because if the lawyer signs the agreement and the client then tells him not to pay, it creates a conflict of interest. I researched this issue with the Georgia State Bar’s formal ethics opinions and unfortunately they have not addressed this topic at all. I don’t know how it would be treated in your state.

      I’m concerned about your mentioning of a “representative” who is willing to take 10% of your settlement. This sounds like a non-lawyer who is planning on engaging in unlicensed practice of law. I doubt that someone willing to do that would feel obligated to settle your medical liens. Of course, if you don’t pay the liens, you’ll still owe the medical providers for the treatment they provided and they can use any means of collection to come after you, including suing you.

      If you fire your lawyer and then settle for the amount that was offered to him, he would likely be entitled to his full fee. You can’t get out of a fee agreement by firing a lawyer without good cause, especially if you intend to accept a settlement offer that was made while he was still representing you. Even if you fired him and ultimately settlement for more than was offered to him, you’d likely still owe him a fee based on quantum meruit.

      My suggestion to you would be to either take the settlement or tell your lawyer to file suit. If he withdraws from your case because he doesn’t want to file suit, you won’t owe him a fee, even if you turn around and accept the amount the insurer had previously offered. You could then try to hire another lawyer or settle the case on your own. I would not under any circumstances hire some non-lawyer “representative”. Such a person is powerless to do anything if the insurer refuses to increase its offer. He can’t sue on your behalf, so what does he bring to the table that you can’t do on your own? You’d basically be paying some person 10% on the off-chance that his negotiating skills are so awesome that he can get you a bigger settlement than you can on your own without him posing any threat of a lawsuit to the insurer. I don’t see it being worth the money.

  2. Nick says:

    A while back, I asked you quite a few questions about my case, and your answers helped me immensely. I’m at a different phase in it now and have another question for you. My case was in federal court, but my lawyer asked for a dismissal so he could file it in state court, as he found legal grounds to so. The federal judge granted the motion w/o prejudice. My case has been ongoing for 2 years now, and quite frankly, I’m not very happy with this attorney. While the case was in federal court, he missed some deadlines (one for expert witness), and the case was nearly dismissed twice.
    My question: Since this case is now dismissed and can be filed again, am I stuck with this attorney or can I hire someone else at this point?
    Thank you, Nick

    • fl_litig8r says:

      The voluntary dismissal of your case from federal court doesn’t affect your fee contract. You’d still face the issue of having to pay your lawyer if you fire him now.

  3. sofier says:

    I have a settlement, never proceed to trial or court.

    My attorney is taking 33 1/3 on the gross settlement. on top of that he still charged legal professional fees, medical report fees and some other fees come to a total of $8,200.00.

    The Doctor’s fees, physical therapy was about 2.5 times more than than the usual rate that I used. also, I have to pay for medical fees who was reimburse by Medicaid.

    The left over amount for me is about 26% of the total settlement. I am using Medicaid, but my attorney do not want to settle with Medicaid. and I have to sign a letter “any outstanding balances due any medical provider, shall be my sole responsibility.”

    My question is:
    1) could I withdraw?
    2) Any obligation to pay the attorney if I will to withdraw (Because I am stress out)
    3) How to settle with Medicaid
    4) can the attorney charged me legal fees again since he collected 33 1/3% from my gross settlement?

    I refuse to sign the release of all calims, because of unsolved Medicaid issues. There will be a trial on February,2015. Can I just ignore? Because I intend to withdraw but worry about obligation to pay this attorney. obviously, I do not know what’s my right.

    Please help me.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      1. If you already agreed to the settlement, then no. The defendant can enforce the settlement against you even if you haven’t signed anything. If you haven’t agreed to a settlement, and you are talking about voluntarily dismissing your case, you can, but that’s cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      2. If you drop the case entirely, then you don’t owe your lawyer a fee (you may still owe costs, depending on your fee contract). You will still owe any doctors who treated you under a letter of protection, but you wouldn’t owe any insurer or medicaid repayment because you made no recovery.

      3. Medicaid reimbursement rules vary from state to state, so I can’t say.

      4. You are confusing attorney’s fees with costs, which attorneys frequently charge in addition to their fees — this is both legal and ethical. In fact, it’s pretty standard.

      At this point, you will owe your lawyer if you ever make a recovery on your case, because he hasn’t done anything that would justify terminating him for cause. So, you can’t fire him and then settle to avoid paying his fees and costs. You can fire him, but if you ignore the trial date a judgment will be entered against you making you liable for the defendant’s costs (and possibly worse). You can have your lawyer voluntarily dismiss the case, which will cancel the trial and let you walk away without owing your lawyer fees or the other side costs, but as I said above, you would still owe any medical providers who treated you under a letter of protection.

      I don’t know why your lawyer is unwilling to handle your medicaid lien. You haven’t said what his stated reasons for this are. I would imagine that your lawyer plans to negotiate down the medical bills owed to providers who treated you under a letter of protection. His plan to take his costs in addition to his fees is pretty standard, so don’t throw your case away over that. I know you feel you’re getting cheated, but I don’t really see anything unusual from your lawyer aside from the refusal to deal with Medicaid. He may have his reasons for that. I’d rather see you settle and take less than you want than throw the case away entirely just to spite your lawyer, who may not be doing anything wrong.

  4. Sunny says:

    Hello fl_litig8r ,

    Awesome site!! What a wealth of excellent information. I wish I had stumbled across this site about 4 years ago.

    I was in an auto collision 4 years ago which is undisputed to be the fault of the other driver. Medical records show disk compression in my upper spine as a result of this accident. I hired an attorney to represent me about 6 months after the accident because the adjustor was extremely noncompliant with paying for medical bills. Suit was filed in this case because no settlement agreement was reached before the three year deadline. The case went to mediation 2 months ago and resulted in a Offer of Judgement from the defense. The case was heading for trial but I verbally consented with my attorney to accept the last settlement offer but haven’t signed anything yet. I made this move because of several reasons. I was not at all confident about going to trial with my current attorney. I chatted with a very reputable firm to see if they would be interested in taking over my case at this stage of the game and unfortunately found out they weren’t because of the potential issues they might walk into due to my present attorney and because of the insurance company involved. (They are the biggest and most difficult to negotiate with.)

    I wasn’t paying nearly as much attention to the legal proceedings as I should have over the course of the past few years. I figured her office was informing me of all proceedings and doing their best in dealing with a noncompliant adjustor. Every-time we talked she would iterate the strength of the case given my injuries. She expected to settle close to the limits of liability which where quite high. I started getting a bit concerned when I received a letter along with the discovery packet where the letter starting out -“As you know, we have filed suit ……. and need these discovery responses back in two weeks”. Now we had talked about about the possibility of filing suit 6-7 months prior but I never received any notification that a lawsuit had actually been filed. Some low offers had been made along the way, which I would find out about when I called their office to ask how things had been proceeding with the case. “They made a ridiculously low offer that is even insulting to me. There is not way we would ever accept that offer” was the common response by my attorney. She told me they were working on a settlement brochure a year before the deadline to file suit. I specifically asked to be sent the brochure that was getting sent to the adjustor. This never happened. My attorney never made a settlement brochure to the best of my knowledge. I was re-reading through the letters from my attorneys office last night (I know…. I am so STUPID for not thoroughly combing through these when they were sent.) to see if I had indeed somehow missed these documents when I found one with a settlement request. In the beginning of the letter, my attorney refutes the adjustors claims they were not responsible for damages/lost wages ect. with her counters arguments backed by notes from my main treating physician, and from an IME preformed on me by a doctor of my attorneys recommendation. The letter goes on asking the adjustor to place a monetary value on x, y, and z injuries that doctors found as a result of the accident. The next sentence states, “For $###,### (max limits) the plaintiff will release the insured of all liability” with no reference what so ever as to how the number were derived…. Now I don’t know a lot about how settlement offers are supposed to be presented but this seems to me like a completely unprofessional, outrages request in the way it was presented by my attorney. Especially, since the majority of the evidence she used to counter the adjustors claims were from the IME doctor she recommended I see, who I just found out had lost his medical license to practice in another state, and whom she had a personal relationship with in the past! Now it becomes more evident why she didn’t plan to call him to testify during trial. Since the case has reached the law suit stages, if has become really clear that I messed up really bad by hiring this attorney. Either she if overworked with too many cases or just plain disorganized but it has been nothing short of a nightmare for me. For example her office keeps requesting information that I have supplied them with months ago and in one instance the contact information of a treating doctor which I had given them in initial discovery responses… I have had so many e-mails asking me to go get medical records from hospitals and send them to her office because the hospitals weren’t ‘responsive to their requests’. After talking to a very reputable attorney and him not being interested in taking my case, I decided I cannot risk being represented by her since I could ultimately incur additional cost due the offer of judgement by the defense. After I told her I wanted to settle and asked her how much her cost were up to, she gave me a figure and assured me that that included all costs. Half-hour later I get an e-mail informing me that not all cost had been included and and gave me me the previous estimate plus a 30% increase. This morning I get another email informing of an addition 1000 dollars for “outside research and drafting” of an order to exclude a biomedical report from trial. In the contingency agreement it states that her office charges $15 a month for outside research related to the case. It seems even with the release of some of the medical leans from my health insurance, I might walk away from this case with nothing left after her 40% + costs. I have already incurred many out of pocket expenses due to medical bills that have gone to collections over the last several years and am stuck with an injury that will be with me for the rest of my life. I messed up by not paying closer attention to the proceeding of the case and firing her long ago. I had a very strong case which I feel has been destroyed by her settlement figures which had no derivation at all to support them. The adjustor has not budged from their second offer since the case started. Even during mediation they only upped the offer by 5000. I sort of understand why after dealing with her the last few months and doing some background research such as reading your articles.

    Questions I have for you.
    Is it normal to incur cost similar to what she’s charging to draft a motion to exclude a defense expert witness report? No expert witness was hired to refute his repost on my side as far as I know. She sent me an e-mail stating she couldn’t afford the out of pocket costs to hire an expert for our side and asked me to help her do some research to refute his claims…

    Am I entitled to all original receipts for all of the costs associated with my case such as mediators, court reporters from deposition, her hotel costs ect.? I plan to withhold signing any documents of settlement until I am sent receipts since this is possibly my only option to get anything to cover some of my costs.

    She had me see another IME doctor who she claimed was a ‘hired gun’ for insurance companies that testified well so that she could conflict them out. Is this standard procedure? I ended up being sent to see a another one of there hired guns. The original one would have been a lot easier to discredit at trial since after looking into his citations, I found out he made a very sloppy error of citing literature that wasn’t conclusive or wasn’t reverent to the claims he made. My attorney was very surprised when I presented this info to her. Apparently she has been conflicting him out with quite a few of her clients.

    I appreciate your wealth of resources on this site. I will most certainly recommend people to your site! I hope my comments can add something to your site and help someone make a wiser and more careful choice when choosing a personal injury attorney that I did.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I discuss my feelings about firms charging the client for someone else to do their legal research or drafting in this article (spoiler alert — they shouldn’t, at least not without specific prior consent). I can’t say whether she should have hired her own expert just to have another expert’s report excluded. It depends on the grounds she argued for the excluding the report. There are many possible grounds that wouldn’t require your own expert opinion.

      You’re not entitled to the original receipts for the costs she claims. She needs those for her own bookkeeping and for tax purposes. I would say that you’re entitled to copies, and if push came to shove, to see the original receipts at her office. I wouldn’t say that she should give you the original receipts, though.

      It’s not typical to have a plaintiff go to an IME doctor just to conflict him out. However, that doesn’t mean that it was wrong for her to do so in your particular case. This is a strategic decision, so there is no right or wrong answer. I have seen this done occasionally, though I can’t remember ever personally doing it. There are certainly particular IME doctors in every region that plaintiffs’ lawyers would prefer not to have to deal with because of their skill in front of a jury. The cost involved usually limits the cases in which an IME for conflict purposes would be feasible.

      I’m not particularly troubled by any errors you perceived in her settlement negotiations. As long as the case itself isn’t damaged, not negotiating a certain way or itemizing damages does no real harm. Hiring an IME doctor who lost his medical license in another state doesn’t seem like a good decision. I could only see doing that if he was really cheap and you were just using him to bolster a demand package, hoping they wouldn’t dig into him. Clearly, using such an expert wouldn’t work too well at trial, so that’s a cost-benefit decision.

      I don’t know that there’s a lot you can do at this point. You already agreed to the settlement and no one else will take your case. I don’t think that anything you’ve mentioned is bad enough to be considered legal malpractice (or at least, bad enough that you’d find a lawyer willing to take the case). I would, as you already seem to know, scrutinize her claimed costs.

  5. ahmad [last name removed by admin] says:

    hello sir ! im from Montreal Canada ! i had an accusation from my X against me . my case has been drooped by crown Prosecutor . i had an contract with my lawyer 2000 canadian dollor which i payed 700 already . so fear he went 2 time to see prosecutor not court no judgment . am i pay the rest 1300 to my lawyer now ??? because he keep asking me money .

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I can’t say with any confidence how the ethics rules regarding attorney’s fees work in Canada, but generally an attorney working on an hourly rate is only allowed to charge for the time he actually put into the case. If this lawyer was on an hourly rate, you’d need to verify that the hours claimed at the agreed upon hourly rate work out to $2,000. If this was some type of “flat fee” agreement, there are too many issues that would need to be looked at under the jurisdiction’s specific ethics rules for me to answer. For example, the first issue would be whether flat fees are allowed for cases such as criminal defense, where one would not expect the anticipated number of hours to be worked would be easy to predict. The fee would also have to pass the general ethics rule that attorneys not charge an unreasonable or excessive fee.

      In short, whether you owe this lawyer the remaining $1,300 depends on the specifics of your fee agreement, how much time the lawyer worked, and the ethics rules specific to your jurisdiction.

  6. ahmad says:

    Thank you very much for your response ! I paid 400$ to him last night but he extremely abuser and still wants 500$ more . But he didn’t do anything for me .as I mentioned he just went 2 times to see with prosecutor and it may took like 15 min each time . now he said I have to remove your fingers print and photo from police record and you have to pay 500$ for this . I said so what you did with this 1100$ ? my case has been dissmisd by crown prosecutor and the reson of dissmissed was non collabortion of my X because she didn’t show-up on both dates for questioning with prosecutor . so just let me know please is it important that I should pay him to remove my photo and finger print from police records ? Or it will removed automatically ? I really appreciate you help dear . And I’ll wait for your next respond . Thank you very very much sir

    • fl_litig8r says:

      While you say it took 15 minutes for him meet with the prosecutor, it doesn’t sound like you are including any travel time, which isn’t free. Also, there’s a minimum amount of time a lawyer will have to spend just reviewing paperwork and doing research, which wouldn’t be apparent unless you ask for it. The only way you’ll be able to know if your lawyer is charging an excessive fee is to review his bill, which should list the number of hours (in 6 minute increments) he spent doing each listed task. Without knowing how he says he spent his time, I can’t even guess whether there is anything inappropriate. I can say that you can’t just look at those two meetings and assume that he is overcharging you.

      With respect to your question about having your record expunged, I am not aware of any jurisdictions where this is done automatically. While I’m not a criminal lawyer, from what I know you do need to request that a record be expunged and, depending on the case, it may not be a simple matter.

  7. Liz says:

    I hired an attorney out of town to represent me in a professional license case. I paid a deposit of $1000. The following day, I found another attorney in town who handled my issue right away because it was a time sensitive case. I immediately contacted the original attorney wishing to withdraw my contract with him because he had not done anything yet, not even assessed my paperwork. My question is, is he legally allowed to keep my $1000 even though he had not handled anything to do with the case yet? It had been only 12 hrs since I made the payment. Please advise.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      As long as the $1,000 was not a “true retainer”, i.e. a payment made solely to secure the services of the lawyer that wouldn’t be applied to future fees, the lawyer can only keep the portion of it that was earned at the agreed upon hourly rate, which sounds like very little from what you’ve written. So while you may not be entitled to a full refund, you should get most of it back. Your lawyer should submit a billing statement to you to describe any hours he claims he spent on your case, so you can see if the charge is reasonable.

  8. Nora says:

    Can i fire my attorney that i feel has no ampethy for what i went and am going thru with my injury cause by a neglegent city employee? They worry about the insurance paying the medical bills , great! their 35% leaving me with only 10% . I know that its the insurance offering this low amount , but i dont feel or hear an aggressive / strong legal representation for myself and all ive gone thru in the past 9 months now. They sound arguementive at times with me. I instructed my attorney to go ahead with the lawsuit, but i wish i had recieved a more ampethetic attorney. I will bet the media would put some fire on this cities insurance, but its not my call to do so at this time. In a nut shell i dont get enough for my healing nor my grief. 🙁 What can i do

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Lack of empathy is not “good cause” for firing an attorney. You can still fire them, but they will be entitled to a fee. I don’t know whether your case is worth more than what is being offered, but some cases aren’t worth much more than the medical bills, especially after attorney’s fees are deducted. From the attorney’s perspective, they can either take on low value cases and have unhappy clients like you to deal with come settlement time, or reject them and leave these plaintiffs to possibly recover nothing. When you say you’re only getting 10%, that’s not entirely true — the amount that goes to your medical bills is on your behalf as well. If you’re getting 10% after attorney’s fees and medical bills, it sounds like a pretty small settlement overall and there may not be anything the lawyer can do about that. You can reject the settlement and risk recovering less (or nothing) if you think it’s too low. Your lawyer may even withdraw if you refuse to settle (which would eliminate his entitlement to a fee), but if that happens you may not be able to get another lawyer and the settlement offer may no longer be available.

      I doubt that going to the press would do much good. Most injury cases aren’t considered newsworthy, even when against a government agency.

  9. Jenny [last name removed by admin] says:

    I have an attorney to get us in a Chapter 13 . I have given him all the info and completed the courses that are required for 13 . We are on an installment agreement to pay him x amount of dollars out of my check and my husbands . We are both disabled and he understands are situation , we have been giving him money out of each check but still owe him over $2000.00 . I have a settlement coming my way within the next couple of months and it could be a large sum , which I told him about . Now he said that I am going to have to pay half of my money to the trustee . I am very upset about this because our bills do not even come close to what would be half of my money going to the trustee , I feel that I am being scammed , why would I give the trustee a large sum of money , when I myself could pay off our debts once I receive the settlement ? I was honest with him right from the start and then the lawyer tells me this ?? We would have never filed a 13 in the first place , why would I ? knowing the settlement is coming soon . any suggestions ? Pls. help !! Thank you

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I doubt that your lawyer is trying to scam you. It doesn’t benefit him to have any more money paid into the bankruptcy estate than you need to. He may have been ball-parking the amount he thought you’d have to pay in based on the debts owed and your expected recovery, and his numbers may just be off. Of course you won’t have to pay more than the total amount you owe. I’m not a bankruptcy lawyer, and I don’t know when your lawsuit arose (before or after bankruptcy was filed), so I can’t say whether your jurisdiction requires that you pay any of your settlement into the estate. I would defer to your bankruptcy lawyer on that. I can say that when he said you’d have to pay half of the recovery into the estate, he was likely estimating that to be the value of the amount owed. There’s no rule about giving up half of your settlement proceeds just because you’re in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, regardless of how much you actually owe the creditors. I suggest that you just talk this out with your lawyer. I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding.

  10. Fern says:


    I would like to know what may happen in Florida with regards to a charging lien under these conditions:

    1. The lawyer was the initial lawyer in the case for Plaintiff ten years prior. He withdrew after a few months in the case and was on a retainer fee. Had he not withdrawn, he would have been fired for very poor performance. He filed a charging lien right after withdrawing.

    2. Plaintiff found out, after contacting the ABA, that the lawyer had served a jail sentence, and had been prevented from practicing for a period of time, none of which was ever disclosed to Plaintiff. Although at the time he was hired, he was authorized to practice law again, Plaintiff would have not hired him if he had known about his past.

    3. Soon thereafter, Plaintiff’s case was dismissed with prejudice by the civil court. The attorney was not present in the hearing. Plaintiff appealed to the DCA and the case was remanded to the lower court under a new judge.

    4. The issues with the complaint that prompted the dismissal with prejudice were addressed and remedied in a new complaint. Counts were different from initial complaint and the whole document was substantially, if not entirely, different from the complaint written by the lawyer.

    5. Within about 3-5 years after filing the charging lien, attorney dies.

    6. It’s been 10 years since the filing of the charging lien and no final judgment and/or settlement has been reached.

    The question is this: Given these circumstances, should a final judgment be entered, and/or a settlement be reached, would the charging lien be able to be enforced? Especially since:

    a) There doesn’t seem to exist enough of a link supporting that the attorney’s services have, in any way, produced a positive or tangible results leading to a positive judgment or settlement (assuming it comes), mostly because his work (regardless of how bad it was, happened 10 years ago and led to (b) below).
    b) Attorney’s services actually produced a dismissal with prejudice, which was later pursued pro se by Plaintiff with the DCA.
    c) Attorney is deceased.

    Would a Motion to Vacate Charging Lien be appropriate? Is there anything else I should consider? Can the lien be enforced after such a long time? Is there a Statute of Limitations for something like this?

    I know these are MANY questions, but I definitely would appreciate any guidance 🙂

    Thank YOU so very much!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I really haven’t researched this, so my answer is based solely on the knowledge in my head and how I think this would be treated if push came to shove. First, the issue about his past transgressions before he met you is a non-issue. Lawyers aren’t required to disclose prior disciplinary or criminal issues to clients who don’t specifically ask about them. Even if a client does ask, the lawyer can simply to refuse to discuss it. He just can’t lie about it.

      Second, whether he has a valid charging lien after withdrawing depends on whether he was essentially forced to withdraw, and that withdrawal was for good cause. That’s going to something fact-specific to your case, and I don’t want to hear about the circumstances because I’m sure there are two sides. This is just something you should know. If you feel strongly that he didn’t have good cause to withdraw based on your actions, then you have good grounds to challenge the lien, at least as far as attorney’s fees are concerned. Sometimes costs will be treated differently, depending on the language of the fee contract.

      Third, if your case is still ongoing with the same case number it had when he represented you, you can’t get rid of the lien just because the case was once dismissed and the complaint was amended. The quality of the work he did and whether you prevailed under a different theory would likely be relevant to discussing the amount of his fee, but I don’t see this affecting his entitlement to a fee.

      Fourth, there is no statute of limitations issue here because the lien hasn’t even been triggered yet. A lien that is dependent on a contingency occurring (you making a recovery) won’t be voided just because it’s taking a while for that contingency to occur.

      Fifth, his death should be a non-issue. His estate would inherit the lien. There’s an outside chance that the lien may be vacated if the estate is required to update the lien to substitute itself for the deceased attorney (like how a party to a lawsuit who dies needs to be substituted within a certain period of time), but that’s something I’ll leave you to research because I doubt that there’s much (if any) caselaw on the subject.

  11. Cher_12 says:

    I live in Oklahoma and hired an attorney for an ERISA case against my long term disability insurance company ( Cigna), after they dropped me after 4 years with no good reason. I knew I had an excellent case and I did, I was reinstated on appeal, no trial.
    I had entered into what was represented to me as a simple agreement: Client agrees that attorney shall receive a fee of 40% of all sums recovered before trial briefing is completed. 45% of all money recovered whether by settlement or judgement after trial briefs are filed. If attorney’s fees are awarded and recovered, any such sums will be applied as an offset in client’s favor against the above described contingent fees.
    Client shall be responsible for all expenses, which will be advanced by the attorney. If there is no recovery there shall be no fee.
    This was the contract.
    The problem with this unscrupulous attorney began the day my husband and I went to his home( he works out of his home) to settle up with him. After signing as to my portion of what I owed, 40% plus about $700 in fees, he lowered the proverbial boom.
    He said” now how do we want to handle the monthly payments from here, I usually have them come to me!!!
    I was shocked and said “excuse me?” He said don’t you remember signing this?, the above statement was shoved in front of me for review. I stated that yes and I have a copy as well. He was intending to take 40% of my monthly income from Cigna for the next 9 yrs! I began to cry and was dumbfounded of course. He asked several times” If you had known this would you have hired me?”Admitting with his own mouth that this was never disclosed nor discussed or more importantly not in the so called contract.
    When my husband and I were leaving he came running out to our car to begin the next phase of his extortion scheme. He said” I want you guys to feel good about this and I have to make a living, so let me sleep n this and get back to you.
    He called 3 days later, very uncharacteristicly nice and chatty and proposed a new offer of 25% for 5 yrs and I get to have him representing me with Cigna, ha! I didn’t know what to say, I was scared, thinking this man held my financial future in his hands so I ‘ played along’ with him on the phone. He said he would email the new agreements to me to sign and return to him. I am college educated and almost fell for this scam.
    I knew that this is how he ‘hooks’ people , with this new agreement, and the fact that he is such a ‘nice’ guy to lower his initial molestation of you to a lesser degree.
    I immediately began seeking all the legal advice that I could, showing my original contract to attorneys. I payed many for the advice, money well spent I believe. They all have said the same thing. They said he can’t get by with enforcing this. Many said he is trying to extort money from me. They all said that I have met my obligation to him and to not be intimidated. I wrote a letter to the attorney terminating him as my counsel and letting him know that my financial obligation to him had been met. I further stated to him that his new offer to me to retain him as my attorney was rejected. I also asked him to return my entire personal file within 10 days of receipt of the letter( I sent it certified).
    He responded several days later with a brief letter stating that he would commence legal action to enforce our contract.
    My question is: Could all these attorneys be wrong? There have been at least 8 that weighed in on this. They think I’m letting him scare me too much but I can’t help it. We were in financial ruin for the year that this attorney purposely dragged out my case. I had my 4th neck surgery before he filed the appeal and had not been released from my neurosurgeon from the surgery the year before Cigna dropped me , so I knew they would have to reinstate me. The lawyer would never return my calls and waited until the day before the deadline to file the appeal, just part of his game. I am worried sick. I don’t know what to do next. Do I have faith in going to the bar with this? I’m sorry but I don’t trust lawyers deciding in my favor against this sleezy attorney. And whom do I trust to represent me if this greedy man sues me? I can’t afford to hire an attorney to protect me from the attorney that I hired to protect me from an unscrupulous insurance company that breached their contract with me in the beginning. Please help me. This is making me ill and my husband as well, whom by the way suffers from Lupus, and major stress usually triggers his disease out of remission, often with very serious illnesses and hospitalizations, as it did this past year when Cigna cut me off, as I am the major bread winner in our home and we were financially devastated with just my Social Security and his income. I’m sorry Im so long winded, Im just so damn afraid of this person and don’t know what he might do or when, if anything. And if he does pursue it legally, does this mean he has recovered on this scheme before?? That would be sickening. Thank you for your thoughts on this in advance.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Yes, all of those attorneys can be wrong. The type of contract you describe is pretty common in long term disability cases. It may be the most common. I will say that any lawyer who has handled these types of cases regularly should have explained very clearly at the beginning that the fee applies to future monthly benefits, because it’s very likely that clients won’t get that from reading the contract. I’m not saying it’s unethical to have such a contract (I think it isn’t, actually) or not to make sure that the client understands the effect on future monthly benefits, but it is a pretty shitty thing for a lawyer not to explain the future benefits issue up front when it’s something a lay person may not expect.

      Let me explain why I don’t think that such a provision is the travesty you might think it is. Think of your average personal injury lawsuit with a wage loss claim. Often, these cases will involve a future wage loss element which is paid in a lump sum at settlement or from a judgment. The lawyer takes his full fee from that money, which is really taking a percentage of that person’s future lost wages. They don’t limit themselves to taking a fee from past lost wages. The only way this is different from what happens in LTD cases is that LTD cases often involve this future income being paid monthly. If a lawyer tells you that it’s excessive or unethical for an LTD lawyer to have such a contract, ask if they take a percentage of a client’s future wage loss in their personal injury cases. If they say it’s different because it’s a lump sum, they’re being hypocrites. It’s not different. Plus, LTD cases are also often settled in a lump sum that accounts for future benefits. Would they say it’s o.k. for the lawyer to take a fee on the whole settlement in those cases? If yes, how is that any different than taking a percentage of future monthly benefits? If you want to really make their heads explode, ask them if they take a percentage of their client’s future medical expenses. That’s right — personal injury lawyers routinely take a full fee percentage from the money paid to their clients to cover their future medical expenses. I guess it would seem worse if these future medical expenses were paid as they were incurred, with the lawyer swooping in and taking his percentage at that time, but really it would just seem that way. Taking a fee from a lump sum award of future medical expenses does the same thing.

      I’m not going to say that the way fees in LTD cases should be structured isn’t a source of heated debate in LTD lawyer circles. It’s a difficult issue, mainly because most of these cases wouldn’t be worth a lawyer’s time if a percentage of the past due benefits was all that was at stake. In a case like yours, where you won on administrative appeal, it’s natural for a lawyer to feel a bit bad about taking the full fee on future benefits because it didn’t require a ton of work. Any decent lawyer would try to reach some compromise to arrive at a fairer fee, such as lowering the percentage (as your lawyer is offering), limiting the number of years (as your lawyer is also offering) or waiving the fee on future benefits entirely (this is rare).

      The problem for LTD lawyers is we don’t know in advance whether a case will be won on administrative appeal or will require extensive litigation. We also don’t know whether a lump sum settlement will be offered. This makes it very difficult to craft a contract that will ensure us a fee that makes the case worth taking under all foreseeable circumstances. Being business people, most of us will draft a contract that is most favorable to us and leaves the decision of whether to later cut the client a break in our own hands. One way to avoid this being an issue after settlement is to tell the client up front that this is what you are doing, which I personally do. If they don’t want to hire me under those terms, so be it — it beats getting into a predictably heated argument over the fees later, as your lawyer is now learning. Again, though, this is a personal decision I make to educate the client on how the fee works — it’s not an ethical requirement mandated by the bar. It’s on the client to not sign the contract until they understand it, and really any advice on its interpretation should be sought from a different attorney.

      Long story short — what your lawyer did isn’t a scheme or scam. It’s how fees are typically handled in LTD cases, which really isn’t any differently than how they are handled in any case involving future damages except for the fact that they may not be paid in a lump sum. My only criticism of your lawyer is that he didn’t explain how the fee would apply to future benefits when he first showed you the contract. It’s easy to see how a client may not expect the fee to be payable on future benefits, especially for someone who has practiced in the area for any length of time. This is a personal criticism, though, not a belief that his failure to explain the contract up front is illegal or an ethical violation.

      As to your claim that the lawyer intentionally dragged the case out, that just makes no sense. He doesn’t benefit from doing so, especially when he’s recovering a fee from future benefits. Sure, if he were limited to a fee on past benefits there might be an incentive to let those accumulate (which is actually an argument in favor of taking a fee on future benefits), but with the contract he had he’s only delaying his own payment by dragging things out.

      I understand that you may not agree with my answer to your question, but I really think that this matter is best resolved by reaching a compromise on the future fees that both you and the lawyer can live with. I don’t think the bar would find any fault with his contract or conduct and I can’t see you finding any lawyer who would be willing to litigate the fee issue without charging a hefty hourly rate that probably wouldn’t make it worthwhile for you — especially given the high probability that you would lose, in my opinion. If you go the litigation or bar complaint route and lose, your lawyer might just hold you to the full fee for the full length of your payments. It’s up to you how you choose to proceed (obviously), but I would suggest trying to reach a compromise with your lawyer first. It sounds to me like he’s trying to be reasonable now, despite his earlier poor judgment in not explaining the contract to you as thoroughly as I would have.

      I also see nothing wrong about your lawyer wanting a new written contract to reflect any compromise deal you may make. He’s not doing it because he thinks the original is unenforceable. He’s doing it because he wants an enforcement mechanism should you choose to violate the new arrangement. If you do reach a compromise, you should want it in writing as well. Otherwise, the only contract you’ll have should a dispute arise is the one with the old fee arrangement.

  12. Cher_12 says:

    Thank you for your prompt response.
    Obviously I hit on an area of the law where you either practice or are very well versed, and I appreciate that.
    What I’m having trouble with is the fact that the attorneys that I have been dealing with are attorneys that handle these LTD cases almost exclusively. Some are ERISA attorneys period. They say they have never heard of such a thing and consider it double dipping. I am so conflicted, and am trying not to make this worse than it already is. I can never feel comfortable having this attorney tied to me for years, representing my interests, if this is the way he conducted his business with me. Didn’t I have a right to this hidden information being disclosed to me so that I could have made an informed decision? I feel as though I have been” caught” in a very clever yet specious contract. I would have never agreed to this, ever, and would have kept looking for other legal representation. No matter how you phrase it he was in a position of power over me and took advantage of it. I’m sorry, but if you aren’t ashamed of the service you provide and how you charge for it, then it should be explained up front and not sprung on an unsuspecting client after the fact. Thank you for your response

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If the ERISA lawyers you spoke with said they never heard of this type of contract, they don’t talk with many other ERISA lawyers. I’ve seen this subject discussed by dozens of ERISA lawyers across the country and while there is disagreement as to how fee contracts should be written, the vast majority view future benefits as part of the recovery subject to a fee. This isn’t double dipping. Double dipping would be taking two fees on the same money, which isn’t happening here.

      I’ve already said that I think LTD attorneys should make sure the client knows that future benefits are subject to a fee, but that’s not because I think the contract has hidden language or there is deception involved. It’s because people may read what they want into the contract despite language to the contrary and not even think to ask what the language means. Many LTD clients just assume that future benefits aren’t included and don’t bother to ask any questions about the contract. There’s fault on both sides when this type of misunderstanding arises, but I definitely place more blame on the lawyer because he should know from experience that this mistaken assumption is common. Maybe your lawyer allowed this misunderstanding to go uncorrected on purpose. Maybe not. I can’t say.

      I don’t think that this is an issue of unequal power at all. You could have walked away without hiring him quite easily, as you yourself admit. It’s a matter of unequal information, due to the lawyer being in a better position to foresee this misunderstanding arising and not proactively avoiding it. Again, I’m not in a position to know if he let this misunderstanding go uncorrected intentionally just to get you committed to the contract first. It’s possible that he was oblivious to you reading the contract as you did. The more experience he has, the less likely that seems.

      Don’t get me wrong. I think your anger over the situation is understandable. It’s something that could and should have been avoided had the lawyer used common sense and an abundance of honesty. I’m just not ready to jump to the conclusion that this was intentional or malicious. I also don’t think that there’s anything that can be done about it either through the bar or the courts. You signed the contract. It says what it says, and the mistaken belief of one party doesn’t mean anything legally. This is why I think you should work something out to resolve the fee. If you don’t want to be tethered to this lawyer for years, you could offer a lump sum to cover all future fees. The risk in doing that is that your benefits could get cut off before the period covered by those fees expires. He’s not going to give you a refund if that happens. As he told you, paying him monthly means that if they cut you off, you already have a lawyer ready to go. This may not matter to you because you don’t want to use him again, but he did get your benefits reinstated the first time.

      • Cher_12 says:

        True enough about the benefits. There is no question that this attorney deceived me on purpose. He has been practicing for 26 yrs, which makes this all the more difficult to swallow. You nor anyone else can convince me that this scenario doesn’t play out before him over and over again whenever he does ‘win’ for a client. His deliberate withholding of what his contract meant is despicable and in no way is it my fault that I couldn’t somehow read into this and inquire about it. I spoke to him at length about the fact that only would reinstatement make me whole, not a settlement. I am the disabled person here and the way this is all set up is so unbalanced. The Insurance company is protected by the government, thus an ERISA attorney, and who protects the disabled person from a over reaching and yes greedy lawyer attaching themselves to their hard earned income? I respectfully disagree with your reasoning that no court would find fault with him on this. You are after all coming totally from a position as he is. I think the fact that he withheld the truth about his fee arrangement with me on purpose, leaving me without the ability to make an informed decision, meant we really didn’t have a meeting of the minds and weren’t after all in agreement. I won’t make another mistake here, but I will make sure( and quickly because time is of the essence here) that I have exhausted every possibility at the chance of receiving some kind of fair shake in this. If it looks like I will have to team up with him, I’ll do it and Ill hate it. I will not agree to a lump sum settlement because I can do basic math and I would be the loser here. Maybe it’s too late for me but perhaps I can start doing some work to affect change in this matter for someone in this circumstance in the future. It’s not right and any reasonable person can deduce that, no matter how many reasons you give to justify the fee, the fee arrangement and it’s disclosere is the germane issue here sir.I don’t really need a response to this but it is your sight and I’m sure you will do as you please. And like all other things in life, I guess you get what you pay for. And remember, anything free costs too much!!

        • fl_litig8r says:

          I agree that if he’s been practicing 26 years, this isn’t the first time a client has expressed surprise at how the fee contract is interpreted. From a moral standpoint, he should have preempted any disagreement by making it clear that future damages were subject to a fee prior to you signing the contract. From a legal standpoint, that is irrelevant. The contract says what it says, and you don’t get to void it by claiming that there was no meeting of the minds just because you assumed it meant something it didn’t. That’s not how contract law works. Feel free to ask other lawyers, but any encouragement they give you could just be because they don’t want to argue. Unless they are willing to represent you in a suit against him or report him to the bar themselves (attorneys are ethically required to report other attorneys’ ethics violations to the bar), their opinions don’t count for much.

          I agree that ERISA is a terrible law, horribly slanted in favor of insurers and employers. It is that reason that I find your “greedy” description of ERISA lawyers to be misplaced. These are not easy cases and this is not an easy area of law in which to practice and earn a living. We’re no more greedy than standard personal injury lawyers, who also take a percentage of disabled people’s future lost wages and future medical expenses, as I’ve already discussed — and personal injury cases tend to be far easier to win. Keep in mind that you would have no prayer of winning an ERISA dispute without one of those greedy lawyers, and don’t blame us for setting up this system. You think we like having the deck stacked completely against us in these cases? If we set up the system, it would look a whole lot more favorable to claimants.

          If you don’t want another response, then don’t reply. I like having the last word on my site.

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