I gave a retainer to an attorney in february, 2012 to consolidate all three cases that i have into one. She failed to file that motion on time along with attorney substitution forms. I have a trial coming up on may 16th in one of the cases, and i will have to file a motion for continuance and may be penalized since my attorney failed to respond to discovery requests from the other party. this attorney failed to communicate with another attorney, was negligent toward my cases, is currently keeping my evidence, and also added unauthorized charges to my billing invoice. What should i do first? file a complaint with California Bar Association, go through arbitration with LACBA? how do i properly dispute those fees and notify the bar?
My best advice is to take a deep breath. If you have a trial scheduled for May 16, the last thing you want to do is fire your lawyer now, The trial judge may - or may not - grant you a continuance even if you are in pro per. Stay with your lawyer at least until then. And, before then, have a face to face meeting and discuss your concerns with your attorney. I have been practicing law for 25 years, and in my experience about 75% of all disputes between clients and their lawyers are based on a communications breakdown.
All of your other remedies - malpractice, fee dispute, etc. - can be dealt with after your case is over. In fact, if you fire your attorney now and then lose the trial, your attorney will have a great defense to any claims that you later bring - that you or your new attorney messed up the case!
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I agree with Attorney Fox. I suggest that you NOT fire your attorney on the eve of trial. Also, later you can request a full and itemized accounting of the expenses that attorney had on the matter and a full accounting of his or her time. If you feel you were wronged there is likely a fee dispute forum in your jurisdiction. Ride it out, and if there is malpractice address it after the trial as it is so close.
This does not establish an attorney client relationship.
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