criminal investigation and although nothing has come of the case, I paid the attorney to keep in touch with the authorities and at least reply when I had a concern about possible exposure and other issues. I get no replies to my questions, no answers to emails, and pretty much feel abandoned. There must be some recourse I have other than standard contractual here? Absolute breach of fiduciary duty to me, at least, and I want to just cancel, but of course if I do that I am sure he will say "oh that's fine just you have used up your entire retainer, and in fact you actually still owe me". I have hired my share of attorneys so I am looking here for some better advice, and then a replacement. The investigation is still ongoing technically so I wanted to keep counsel as a matter of record.
Criminal Defense Attorney
The attorney you hired may have committed several ethical violations in relation to your case. I suggest you send a written document relieving (firing) the attorney and demand some of your money back (maybe half??) Also ask for an accounting of the fee he or she has charged you again. Do everything in writing. Your attorney has probably done some work, so he or she is probably entitled to some of the money you paid. If you do not get a response to your letter within 1 week, write another letter informing the attorney that you have no choice but to file a formal complaint with the local county bar or the State Bar. If that does not get the attorney's attention after another week, go ahead and file the formal complaint. The filing of a complaint should be done only as a last resort if the attorney will not respond to your reasonable requests.
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An attorney has an ethical duty to respond with reasonable promptness to client inquiries and to provide an accounting. Failure to do either is a serious violation of an attorney's obligation to you.
B&P section 6148(b) provides in part: “Upon request by the client, the attorney shall provide a bill to the client no later than 10 days following the request unless the attorney has provided a bill to the client within 31 days prior to the request, in which case the attorney may provide a bill to the client no later than 31 days following the date the most recent bill was provided. The client is entitled to make similar requests at intervals of no less than 30 days following the initial request.”
Visit the State Bar website and make certain you have the attorney’s correct address. Then write a letter asking for an accounting and written status report on your case. Quote the above language. Send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested, and regular mail.
If you want to change attorneys, do. You do not have to wait for this attorney to respond. If you are unsatisfied with the attorney’s response, file a formal complaint with the bar.
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