I had a similar experience as another reviewer. Mr. Durst took months to send me a bill and when I finally received it he had trumped up outrageous charges. This attorney does not appear to have any staff and charges attorney rates for things such as copying and printing out documents. I was unable to resolve this issue with this attorney.
Response from Thomas Durst November 2, 2017
I would be happy to discuss your concerns with you. However, given that you chose to post anonymously I am unable to do so. It is not our practice to charge for copies although it is common for firms to charge per page. If you worked with us at any time during 2017 you almost surely met with, spoke with, or emailed with my staff member.
A most unfortunate and hostile experience
I had an unfortunate experience with Mr. Durst. I retained him to represent me in a matter in NJ. He was utterly unresponsive, rang up unreasonable bills after charging me (and collecting) 166% of what he agreed to handle the matter for in the first place, then threatened in no uncertain terms in writing to sue me for additional amounts.
This was a real problem, as I needed professional, careful representation in a family matter.
The time charges were simply outrageous. Mr. Durst sent me an invoice three times what plaintiff’s counsel charged in the matter. When I brought it up, he simply said, via email, “my billing rate is much higher”.
Mr. Durst appears to have no staff ... not even a secretary to answer his calls. Yet his billing rate is that of a senior partner. He charged me -- and now seeks to collect for -- exceptionally high fees for tasks that an administrative assistant or paralegal could easily handle for a fraction of the cost.
I have never met an attorney – let alone one who represented my legal interests – be so utterly unresponsive and unzealous in advocating a client’s interests. Mr. Durst did practically nothing. His final emails to me asking for updates were simply thinly veiled excuses to hit me up for payments – I contend that he was not interested in or taking action on the legal matter.
This may be the unusual misfire, but the vehemence with which Mr. Durst is pursuing his right to collect unreasonable fees after doing a sub-par job on my matter in the first place, is very troubling. Equally troubling is that when I raised my concerns in writing, his next action was to send me a letter threatening a lawsuit.
I wish he had been as zealous in representing me as he is in representing himself.
Response from Thomas Durst June 7, 2017
You at free to hold any opinions you wish. That being said, you voluntarily executed a fee agreement which set forth my billing rate. If you thought my rate was "exceptionally high" you were free to hire a lower cost attorney. You continue to ignore the mathematical reality that if the adverse attorney had a billing rate of much less than mine your costs, for the same amount of work, would be higher. There was never a flat fee or quote offered to you so your claim that I billed you "166% of what he agreed to handle the matter for in the first place" is without merit. Oddly, you did not dispute the billings until I implemented the required procedures under NJ law to collect the fees once you decided not to pay your bill. I provided the required notice of your Right to Fee Arbitration and advised that if you did not elect to pursue fee arbitration I would invoke my right to initiate collection efforts, including but not limited to a collection suit. It was not a threat. I simply outlined the path this fee dispute would take. You have elected to pursue fee arbitration and we are waiting for the hearing and resolution. Family law matters in NJ are not contingency cases. You reviewed, and signed, all pleadings and filings in your case. As a former attorney it can safely be assumed that you understood the paperwork. Success on the case does not dictate whether you or not you need to pay your bill.