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2 Dismissed Chapter 13 Cases

Chicago, IL |

Lawyer was paid in full for both cases, can I request a partial refund for the fees paid?
- Filed Chapter 13 twice in 2009 and 2011, the 2011 case was dismissed earlier this month.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. The court has jurisdiction over the attorneys fees. However, you should first address your concerns directly with the lawyer. if you are unable to resolve your concerns with the lawyer, you can request that the court assist you with the attorneys entitlement to compensation.

    Karen J. Porter is licensed in the State of Illinois. An answer to a question on this site does not create an attorney client relationship. It is recommended that you meet with an attorney to receive a thorough and confidential review of your legal problem.

  2. You can always ask. However, whether you are "entitled" to a refund would depend on why the cases were dismissed. Probably too late to do anything about the 1st dismissed case, too long ago.

    Note, when a chapter 13 case is dismissed early, depending on the circumstances, you may still be liable to pay some fees. Bankruptcy attorney's will often roll a portion of their fee into the chapter 13 payment plan to make the case more affordable for the debtor, but if the case is dismissed early and the attorney hasn't been paid for the work already performed, the debtor may still owe money to their attorney.

  3. It is unusual for attorney fees to be paid in full "up front" for a Chapter 13. Whether you are entitled to a partial refund will depend on the terms of your written retainer agreement and the amount of work performed in each of the cases. Hope this perspective helps!

  4. I wonder how you want us to answer that question without knowing the details. Normally, a chapter 13 is dismissed after 2 years because the debtor failed to make the payments for something they were required to pay under the reorganization. I really understand that client's often believes the attorney should do more, but ultimately attorney's have limited defenses when the provisions of the confirmed plan is not adhered too. I may be wrong in the facts here, but it seems that this attorney represented you for 2 years, why would you think you should be refunded money? Chapter 13 attorney's are forbidden to work under a contingency fee agreement.

  5. Whether you are entitled to a refund is primarily determined by the fee contract you entered with your attorney. While it's true that the bankruptcy court must approve fees in bankruptcy, the court is mostly looking to determine that the fee is reasonable and is not likely to require a refund simply because the case was dismissed. Your first step should be to read your retainer agreement and see what it says about refunds.

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