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Can a lawyer say that he represents you after you fire them

Endicott, NY |

need answer

in july of 11' the airbags in my car blew out while i was driving down the road.I opened a claim against GM and I found a no obligation lawyer that would take the case.I never met with him in person. he sent me a contract to sign that stated that he would receive 33% of my settlement if he won my case. recently he refused to disclose all the info to me on the case because I felt that he was being untruthful regarding offers from GM and accused me of wanting the info to obtain another attorney. so i fired him. He then refused to send GM a letter stating that he no longer represented me and black-mailed me by stating that he would only do so if I signed a non-cancel-able assignment of benefits. now he is sending documents to GM stating that hes "asserting a lien with a retainer signed by my client for his fee" and that he "Request that no money be released to my client until he and I have resolved this issue.he states several places in this document (which he sent to me as well) that I am still his client.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

I'm going to be a little more emphatic than the other two answers: no, an attorney cannot say that he represents you after you have fired him, so long as the attorney knows that you've fired him. Based on the facts that you've described, he knows that you've fired him and thus it is unethical for him to tell anyone that he still represents you. Furthermore, as a general rule, and subject to only limited exceptions, an attorney is not ethically permitted to refuse to provide information to his client.

Finally, the assignment he asked you to sign sounds fishy, although I haven't researched the ethics rules on assignments, but I can say that, to the extent this assignment is intended to be compensation to the attorney, an attorney cannot ask for or receive a nonrefundable retainer - an attorney is always required to return that portion of a fee that is either unearned or unreasonable.

I would agree with the other answers that you absolutely need to find another attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights against GM and to get competent advice on what to do about this attorney. I would also suggest that you discuss with a new attorney whether you should file a disciplinary complaint against this attorney with the disciplinary committee for the judicial department covering the place where this attorney has his offices. Many people, and attorneys, are wary about filing disciplinary complaints against an attorney, but unless attorneys who engage in obviously bad behaviour are reported, they will continue to abuse other people.

Good luck

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Posted

Most likely not. If you provide more details you will get a better answer.

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Posted

I hope you hired a new lawyer before you fired this one. If you did, your new lawyer should know how to handle this problem. If you didn't hire a new lawyer, you need one. You can't go up against GM without a very good lawyer. It also requires very specific expertise to deal with these attorney fee lien issues. They can get very messy.

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