How can I protect myself from a greedy lawyer?

Asked almost 3 years ago - New York, NY

Just paid (charged) more than 1k to have a lawyer serve a Copy of Complaint to my wife. The lawyer still needed me to fax a copy of the Summons with Notice that I originally filed, my wife's SS#, and her address, which I haven't done. However, I found out the agency that originally prepared my divorce papers can prepare a Copy of Complaint for me for a tenth of the price I paid my lawyer. Now I'm asking my lawyer if I could possibly pull out of our agreement (simply: get a refund), but he's telling me he's already served the papers and called my wife's lawyer, etc. I asked him how could he have done all of that when they still needed more information from me, i.e. Summons with Notice, wife's SS#, wife's address. I feel he's lying.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Theodore W. Robinson

    Contributor Level 20


    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . I agree. Terminate the lawyer and demand a full accounting of the time he claims he spent and if you're still not satisfied, file a Grievance and that committee will investigate and that will usually result in a settlement by the attorney if they did not really spend all the time they claim.

    On the other hand, be advised that the lawyer may have legitimately spent the time and could have served the documents as he claims without that other information and that could then justify his bill once he sends it to you. In the meanwhile, demand your file back and tell him/her to refrain from doing any more work on your behalf.

    Good luck.

    You may call our office at 516-248-6600 or send an email to us at This answer does not form... more
  2. Michael David Siegel


    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Fire the lawyer, and file a fee grievance with the New York County Lawyers Association.

  3. Eric Edward Rothstein

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . If the only thing the lawyer did to earn the 1k+, you got ripped off. Unless it is a difficult service, a licensed process server can serve the summons and complaint for no more than $100 and that is probably high. Are you sure the lawyer didn't do anything else to earn the fee?

    I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases.... more
  4. Jeffrey Bruce Gold


    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . I've handled a lot of fee disputes, and there are usually two sides to every story. My gut feeling tells me that the lawyer filled out forms that he was requested to fill out and has earned most of the fee. Ask for an itemized bill, and then file for a fee hearing.

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