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I hired a lawyer off of this AVVO site and now that she's ripped me off for my $10,000 retainer, she won't give me back my file

Huntington Beach, CA |

or all my evidence, she refuses to answer my calls, or emails, and has blocked my text messages too. She owes me $5,000 refund after she billed me $5,000 for the 1st month she didn't do one thing she wrote on the retainer to con me out of the ten grand. She says because I am calling her to get my money that she owes me along with my file returned, she says she's called the police saying I'm harassing her and threatening her staff, and she has done all this work on my behalf when I can prove she did nothing . She claims she is a "FRAUD EMAMINER" when she is just another fraudster herself. I tried to post an honest review from my experience with this attorney on AVVO but they reject anything derogatory about an attorney, even if it's true. How can I warn the next unsuspecting client ?????

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Attorney answers 4


Your first concern should be yourself and not others. If you start posting derogatory statements that in the end can't be backed up except by legally insufficient emotional rhetoric, you face the danger of being sued for defamation. If you feel that you were charged for work not done and are due a refund contact the local court and/or Attorney Bar Association to find out if they have a "Fee Dispute Resolution Program" which can give you a forum to civilly resolve your fee issue.


File a complaint with the California State Bar.

I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.


I agree with counsel's earlier comments, and think that the appropriate course of action to both obtain a refund of unearned fees, and to protect yourself from potential liability is to 1) try to discuss it verbally, either over the phone or in person (and this requires that the lawyer provide you time records or billing records, 2) send a letter explaining your position specifically (and not just in terms of "I want my money back", and 3) then request fee arbitration, which can usually be done through your local bar association. Good luck.


You first need to worry about your own rights. Be very careful about what you say about this person, because you don't want to be defamatory and open yourself up to suit. Especially if she is already threatening you with the police.

I would suggest a certified letter in which you request a concise, detailed bill showing exactly what she did and how much time she spent. You are entitled to this. You should also state that you require a complete refund for all of the retainer not spent. Also request in your letter a complete copy of your file. Inform her that she has x number of days to respond or you will file for a mandatory fee arbitration with your local Bar. You will need to determine where your local bar is. It will be in the county where the services where performed. X number of days, might perhaps be 10 days or something along those lines.

Make sure your letter is polite and professional. No accusations of fraud, nothing about your anger, no matter how reasonable it might be. A just the basics kind of a thing.

If she does not respond within those 10 days, you should request a fee arbitration.

I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation and social security disability. This post is not legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in this post. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

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