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I did not sign a retainer agreement and I dispute my legal fees.

New York |

My lawyer began my case for work place discrimination. He told me he would take it on contingency. Then half way through the case he presents me a bill for the hours he has worked on the case. I disputed the fees and decided to use another lawyer. I did not sign a retainer agreement with him. How do I contest the fees? I believe I owe him nothing as I was on contingency.

He also said he would look to take other measures to get this money. What could these other measures be? I have since asked him for the retainer and he acknowledges that there is no retainer but has threatened to take 'other measures' to get the bill paid. I am appalled by his behaviour.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. One should ALWAYS sign a written retainer when dealing with an attorney.

    If you have a fee dispute, you should contact the Fee Dispute Program in your area.
    http://www.courts.state.ny.us/admin/feedispute/local_programs.shtml


  2. When you retain an attorney you should always sign a written retainer.

    Check with a lawyer in your locale to discuss more of the details.

    Good luck to you.

    God bless.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an attorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.


  3. The bar associations and the attorney licensing authorities generally have fee dispute mediation programs. I would google them up in NY and call them right away to get the dispute into mediation.

    I find it hard to believe an attorney would start working on a case like this without a written, signed fee agreement. You have an absolute right to a copy of your file so you might start with a written demand, sent certified mail, return receipt requested, requesting a copy of your complete file, including fee agreement,all documents of whatever nature signed by you, and all other file documents, within 10 days of the law office's receipt of the request.