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Attorney made oral agreement to work case for flat fee, I paid upfront, then he sent an additional bill without discussing it.

Los Angeles, CA |

I had a hearing with a city attorney officer and so hired a private defense attorney. He told me me his rate, but said the case was simple and shouldn't take him more than 10 hours, and told me "I can make this go away for $X." He did not expressly promise not to charge more. This was all a phonecall.

I paid $X in full before he began working on the case. I paid with a check and wrote "retainer" in the memo. Never any written agreement.

So my hearing came, my attorney went with me and told my side, and the hearing officer said the case against me is closed. My attorney said I would receive a letter from the city attorney, but that hasn't arrived yet. What has arrived is a bill from my attorney asking for another $1000 for an extra 2 hours of work.

How should I respond to this bill?

Attorney Answers 4


Without knowing the exact terms of the orally agreed work by that retained attorney, without knowing with exactitude what legal work that professional performed, without knowing what additional fees, fines, restitution and such were supposed to be tendered for the case completion, it is impossible to take sides and advise you how to respond to the bill.
You may contact the attorney and address these above points specifically, be polite, respectful and reasonable. I am certain that could be resolved in a mutually amicable fashion provided both parties approach the matter constructively.

DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professional and competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide competent professional information, however, the law and its applications may change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and materials provided above are general in nature, and may not apply to specific factual and legal circumstances related to one’s personal legal issues. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer admitted to practice in your State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive a competent legal advice before making any important decisions about your particular legal issue. For further inquiries please contact: Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko 1021 West Adams, 102, Chicago, Illinois 60607 773-562-8602

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You should have received a written retainer agreement under State Bar rules. If the matter is over and this is the final bill you should tell him you are not paying any more and if he insists that you will insist on state bar arbitration.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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You should consult the State bar.

My response to your question is a generic response and should not be construed as controlling to your case. I can not effectively advise about your case without knowing all the facts. Additionally, my response does not create an attorney-client relationship. You can contact my office to schedule an appointment if you would like to have me represent you.

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Any representation agreement for over $1,000.00 needs to be in writing. If the additional 2 hours was $1,000.00, then one can presume the initial 10 hours was for more and therefore, this attorney has violated state bar rules and should consider him/her self lucky for getting the initial fee without a hassle.

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