Canceling a Retainer Agreement in a personal injury auto case

Asked almost 2 years ago - Watsonville, CA

This might be a sensitive issue for attorney to field . I am not trying to not pay my attorney only how much to pay my attorney . My attorney withdrew from my case at my request after writing 2 letters in a four month time frame . He did send me the file with nothing but pages I had sent him and the two one page letters . He did agree via email that he would adjust his fee for what work he had done before his withdrawal . In his withdrawal letter to the insurance he included a lien without any percentage or fee amount . I anticipate settlement this week . How should I proceed ? I do want to pay what is reasonable but not 3 original retainer before withdrawal and agreement to reduce fee . This is not a large case . Soft tissue injury ant totaled car . I am not getting response from communicate

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Albert Lee Crosner

    Contributor Level 19

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You should try to find another attorney in your local area if at all possible. Do not worry about your prior attorney as it is standard practice for a former attorney to file a lien with the insurance company. When you get your new attorney, inform him/her of the former attorney's lien and your new attorney will resolve the issue with your former attorney. Contact me at the earliest possible time and I can discuss this with you.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather... more
  2. Joseph Gerard Dell

    Pro

    Contributor Level 10

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Every client has the right to terminate their retainer agreement whenever they chose. Your prior attorney is entitled to a lien against the file for the value of the work performed and it's impact of the result in the case. If you retained your attorney on a contingency retainer and all he did was write a few letters, and then you discharged him and went about resolving the case yourself then you have a strong argument for him to receive very little. If however it was do to his efforts that the carrier wanted to settle and in fact was willing to settle with him before you discharged him then he should be entitled to his retainer percentage. In the end there are many factors that will come into play and the best way to resolve it is to speak to your prior lawyer and negotiate a fee. We as attorneys are committed to work out these types of issues with our clients and our ex clients. In addition our retainers require arbitration for fee disputes between $1,000 and $50,000. In the event your are unable to resolve it with your attorney you can contact the bar association's mediation service and they may intervene and help both sides come to a resolution.

  3. Pius Joseph

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If your attorney withdrew at your request he will be able to collect reasonable value for his services. You may want to contact him to request the amount of his lien. If he does not respond contact the local county bar association and set up a fee dispute arbitration and the arbitration panel will figure out his fair share of fees. All these sound too time consuming for a small matter. Practical Tip: Contact another alwyer and open up a line of communication and settle this.

  4. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Get another attorney who can negotiate down the lien. Find a lawyer with a low contingency fee, less than 30%, so you get the lion’s share of the settlement, not your lawyer. Thus, don’t get hurt twice by paying a huge fee. Good luck.

    Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com
  5. Larry Alan Apfelbaum

    Contributor Level 13

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . as I understadn your question, you are settling your case directly with the insurance company and want to know how much your former attorney should get. Assuming you signed a 1/3 fee agreement that would be the maximum he could claim. But given the relatively short time he was on your case I would expect the will agree to a significantly lower amount.

    You or another attorney on your behalf need to contact the former attorney to negotiate an amount. He will want to know how much the case is settling for and he may in fact be entitled to know that. If you are unable to reach agreement on the fee amount, have attorney give you letter with his requested amount, supported by an intemized list of work he did on your case, and then you can have the insurance company issue two checks, one for his amount with his name and your name on it that you can either continue negotiating over and/or let court decide, and the balance just to you so that is not held up by the attorney's claim.

    Good Luck

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