I paid my attorney 5,000 in a flat fee retainer, she never used any of the money because after i paid her i never heard from her again and dropped my case. anything she did was paid for outside of the retainer. I asked her for a breakdown of my bill and she replied to me saying i paid a flat fee retainer and it was not refundable. is there a way i can get my money back because she never used the money nothing was done.
Estate Planning Attorney
If you signed a retainer agreement for certain services to be performed in a specific case for a flat, nonrefundable fee, you may not be entitled to the money back. However, if she truly did not perform the services for which she was hired, then she owes you some money back. You state on the one hand that she did nothing for you and dropped the case, but then you state that she "was paid...outside of the retainer" for anything she did. This is inconsistent: did she do things which benefited your case or not? She is not required to "use" the money in any particular way if you agreed to pay a nonrefundable, flat fee retainer for your case. Regrettably, your question cannot be fully answered without reading your retainer agreement or gathering more facts from you regarding your agreement with the lawyer, the nature of your case, and exactly what she did or did not do. You always have the right to bring an action in small claims court against her, or in county court, if you feel she did not perform the services she promised when you retained her. Second, you have the right to file a grievance with the Florida Bar Association if you feel you the attorney failed to prosecute your case, was negligent, or failed to provide appropriate services for which you paid or a refund of your money. The Bar will investigate the matter by first writing the attorney, and providing her a copy of your complaint form or letter, and she will be required to respond to the Bar inquiry. If the Bar, after review of the matter, feels further investigation is necessary, it will undertake additional investigation and will decide whether disciplinary actions are appropriate. If the Bar feels you are incorrect in your position, the grievance will be dismissed without further action by the Bar. Be very careful you, however, that you stick only to facts and that you do not make allegations against this attorney which you cannot prove. After all, you do not want to subject yourself to a claim for either libel or slander by making exaggerated statements or incorrect or false statements about this attorney.
Your description of her conduct sounds incomplete. Know that I do not practice law in Florida.
If you are saying that you paid her $5,000 and she did nothing, well, then you two had a contract and she did not perform and if your version is true, then yes, you should get your money back. If she is non responsive, you might want to either go to small claims court and or talk to the state bar.
But you also say anything she did was paid outside the retainer, which is inconsistent with never hearing from her again and her dropping the case. While inconsistent with never hearing from her again and her dropping your case, it is also inconsistent with the terms of your agreement that she (a) bill you for more fees (I do not know what the agreement said as far as costs); and (b) not complete the agreed upon contract.
Though I don't practice law in Florida, generally it is lawful to agree to a flat fee retainer but she has to perform the services for which she contracted (though there are issues of a fee being unconcionable). If she fails to perform, then you have breach of contract issues which can probably be addressed fastest and cheapest in small claims court.
If you believe that you were wronged, and the attorney did not earn the money she took, file a Florida Bar Complaint.
(paste link into your browser)
The Florida Bar takes such claims seriously.