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Is it possible to get back my retainer after firing my attorney?

Douglasville, GA |

Last week I put an attorney on retainer for a child custody case. We met the next day and talked about 20 minutes and he basically advised that I give up custody. The next day after court he told me, "you screwed yourself." The petitioner on this case is behind thousands in child support, has either been unemployed or unwilling to pay child support most of the child's life and lives in another state so does not regularly exercise visitation. After what this attorney has said to me and the way they've advised me, I do not believe them to have my best interest in mind. I want my money back so that I can find someone who will at least put up a good fight for me. How do I go about this process?

Attorney Answers 2


It sounds like you largely feel disrespected by your attorney and disappointed in the outcome of your hearing. Your other concerns about poor representation could be correct. Or, your attorney may have given you spot-on advice. Either way, your attorney has spent time representing your interests and you probably have a written agreement with him or his firm about payment.

When a client terminates representation, the attorney will return any portion of the retainer that was unearned. So, you are unlikely to get a full refund of your retainer (and you may be surprised to learn that your retainer was exhausted and you owe money). So, brace yourself.

Read your agreement and give your attorney a call regarding terminating representation. He likely will ask you to sign a consent form for him to "withdraw as counsel" in your case. This consent, essentially, is what he needs to take his name off your case without a lot of hassles (and the court will appreciate you making it easy, too).

If you have other concerns about fees, you might look at the Bar's fee arbitration program:

Nothing in this response should be taken as legal advice nor should it be relied upon.

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Attorney Keaton provided great analysis. I agree in all respects.

Review the terms of your agreement with your attorney. And if you have any questions about specific terms, ask your attorney for an explanation. Additionally, ask yourself (as objectively as possible) whether the attorney earned their fee in rendering services on your behalf.

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Thanks for the answers. Although I paid money, I did not receive an agreement. I signed papers which I believe were the agreement but did not receive copies. Also, based on the service I've received so far I wouldn't be surprised if the attorney refused to return any of the retainer, so I will probably have to just cut my losses and move on. Thanks again.

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