A lawyer took a$20,000 retainer, rendered services (no dispute about the services) and client THOUGHT that retainer covered services.........over one year later, he receives an invoice for another (almost) $50,000. Is there any law in California on the enforceability or "collectability" of invoices after any certain period of time?
Thank you to all......the engagement letter did say that the firm would bill monthly, which never happened. He tells me that he never saw even one invoice. So, technically the attorney is in breach. The matter came to a conclusion, and then, a fully year later (after conclusion of the matter), he receives an invoice. I had already looked at CCP 337 before posting this question. I am just asking whether anyone is aware of a time limitation on invoicing for services rendered, apart from the CCP provisions? I couldn't find an ethics ruling ......and, I want to confirm that it is wholly permissible for an attorney to wake up and decide to bill a past client after so long a time. Does this added texture trigger any additional response ?
You should look at the Fee/Retainer Agreement (the contract you entered into when you hired the lawyer) to see what services were covered/not covered under the retainer and/or how additional monies would be requested.
The client needs to review the written attorney-client agreement. That agreement covers the terms of the attorney's representation -- not what the client thought. A client is entitled to an invoice from an attorney within 10 days of asking for one. I assume the client did not ask for one and the invoice was rendered at the conclusion of the matter.
While perhaps unusual and not the best practice, IMO, it is not unlawful to withhold an invoice until the conclusion of a matter or the happening of some event.
The client’s options are to: 1) Pay the invoice; 2) Discuss the matter with the attorney in an attempt to resolve any disputed amount of fees; 3) Institute fee arbitration; 4) Do nothing until the attorney gives notice of the client’s right to fee arbitration and/or institutes a lawsuit.
I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference
Family Law Attorney
You haven't described anything unlawful in regards to your attorney's conduct. I'd review the retainer agreement then speak with your attorney about working something out.
Ms. Johns can be reached at either her Woodland Hills or San Diego offices at (866) 402-4038. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Johns is a lawyer although she is not your lawyer unless and until you have consulted with her and an authorized representative of her office and signed a fee or letter agreement confirming her representation of you. Ms. Johns, their lawyers, and her employees are not tax or financial advisors and do not give tax or financial advice. If you wish such professional advice, you are advised to consult with the appropriate professionals.