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Is it ethical and legal for a lawyer to change billing amounts at the final bill?

Rancho Cucamonga, CA |

My lawyer changed the amounts one year later when the final bill was due. She changed the amount billed to Prepare Petition Nd Order to Show Cause from $250 to $750 and Revise documents and prepare for filing from $150 to $450 with no change in the billing time from initial bill to final bill! This seems unethical and unfair! What should I do?

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Attorney answers 3


If your lawyer rendered a statement to you on December 25, 2011 which stated a specific amount of time spent on a discrete task on a specific date and then one year later submitted the identical statement to you, except that the fees billed were different, yes -- on those stated facts, if there is not an acceptable explanation, I think you are right to question the final bill. However, those facts seem highly unlikely to me.

When I render monthly statements on account, they are for that monthly period only. Unless I have made a mistake and notice it or it is called to my attention by my client, there would be no reason for me to render a statement for that same period of time one year later. One purpose of regular monthly statements is to state an accurate account between the client and defendant. Correcting a statement one year later is highly unusual, IMO.

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It does not make since to me that the bill would be that much different unless the lawyer was doing additional services. You should talk to the attorney about the discrepancy and see if he can adequately explain to you why there is such a difference. If his explanation is unsatisfactory you can ask the state bar to arbitrate the fee for you. There is a small charge for this service. You can follow the link below to find information on the CA bar fee arbitration program.

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The prior answers are good. You might send your lawyer a letter explaining that this appears to be either a mistake or an unfair practice and asking for comment or correction. If I got such a letter from a client it would get my attention.

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