I hired Mr. Peterson in August 2014 to represent me in finalizing an out of jurisdiction divorce that I had filed and had been heard before a Judge. Since my spouse resided out of state there was some concern about enforcing the terms of the divorce, I was advised to seek representation, which I did. He requested a retainer fee, a normal & customary part of hiring an attorney. After 4 months a fully executed Divorce Agreement was filed and a final hearing scheduled when my spouse unexpectedly died.
The retainer had a substantial balance left. Mr. Peterson has refused to return the unused funds. His Agreement states the retainer is NON-REFUNDABLE and he stands by his policy. So even though the monies were not earned he will keep it. I would like anyone thinking of hiring Mr. Peterson to be aware of this policy and make sure you protect yourself.
Personally, he seems to be a nice individual. However, on a professional level found that he didn't have the practical knowledge with regard to some related issues which indicated to me his lack of experience. But, his non-refundable retainer policy leads me to believe his interests come first regardless of his clients.
Response from Alexander Peterson May 27, 2015
Thank you for taking the time to write a review for us on Avvo. We always appreciate feedback so we can learn how to make our business better for all concerned.
I am disappointed that my firm's policy disappoints you. It is our firm's policy to charge a small non-refundable retainer which is discussed and detailed on the retainer agreement prior to our firm taking on your case. This is what allows us to dig deeply in every case or matter to truly understand our clients' objectives and devise the best up-front strategy.
In our experience this approach serves our clients best in the long run as the upfront strategy work ultimately lowers overall costs, helps get to the client's objective more quickly and prevents the need for costly and frustrating mid-stream strategy changes which rarely benefit the client and which are never much fun for our attorneys either.
As you mentioned, partway through the case your husband passed away. And you have our full sympathies for this tragedy. But the fact remains the strategy work which the non-refundable retainer paid for was done by our firm.
Obviously, I would have preferred to have had the opportunity to discuss this with you in a more private setting as with most legal matters there are additional confidential factors which I would never reveal to anyone. So I am at a disadvantage in this format to fully protect my reputation, because I am ethically bound to protect your confidentiality. However, if you would be willing to keep an open mind and hear all the facts I would invite you to schedule a private telephone appointment with me.
Regardless, you can count on my discretion and you and your whole family continue to have our sympathies for your loss.