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Can a lawyer you are considering hire call your current lawyer without your permission? (and when asked not to)?

Chicago, IL |

We have an attorney that charges hourly and we were interviewing contingency attorneys. We contacted one that mentioned he could call our current attorney and get our case info. I immediately said no do not call him. I explained we are charged hourly and we are interviewing other attorneys. He promised no one would call our current attorney. Then, before the conversation ended, I asked him again to not call our attorney's office. He , again, promised no one would call him.

Well, I got a bill from our current lawyer for a call he took from this attorney for $100.00 a few days after I specifically asked him not to call him.

I have contacted this lawyer and asked them to pay this bill since they are responsible for this charge after I asked them not to call. THey will not respond

I would like to know if they can legally do this? Especially, after I asked them not to. It is actually not even my case, it is my husband's. And, what are my recourse's to get them to pay this?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

It will be your word against the attorney in disputing an amount of $100. And since the new lawyer never talked/dealt with your husband, I don't think he had a fiduciary duty to him - meaning I think it would have been a different story if your husband had talked to new attorney, NOT YOU. This is why I never take a case from anyone except the prospective client him/herself.

Perhaps I'm a pessimist, but REALISTICALLY I don't think there's much that can be done. You can explain your situation to the iARDC, but it would be up to them to do anything. And yes, the current attorney probably wasn't happy about that call (I mean, it equals lost business), so no surprise from me that he billed your husband.

Sorry this happened, but consider having your husband do the legwork from now on.

Asker

Posted

Just an FYI, the other attorney new we were hiring someone else (i.e. a contingency lawyer) so that was no surprise to him. He just bills for every single thing so that is why we did not want him to call. And, I am the one who has dealt with this case for the last 4 years. It would seem to me that because it was not my husband would play in my favor. He technically called and discussed a case he no permission discussing.

Posted

A small claims action against the attorney you interviewed may be successful. I would try it.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Posted

It seems quite improper that the contingency lawyer called the hourly attorney, but it is the hourly attorney's prerogative to charge for the time he spends on the matter. Given that you are working on replacing him, I can see why he might be loathe to cut you a break on the bill. That being said, your facts tend to indicate that you did not tell the hourly lawyer to speak to potential new counsel that you were interviewing. If that is correct, then I would call your hourly attorney and point out that you (or your husband) did not give authorization for him to speak to new counsel about the matter, so there never should have been a conversation even if the contingency attorney called. The hourly lawyer should have spent no more than one minute stating that he is not authorized to speak about your (or your husband's) case and that should have been the end of it. Thus, there should be no $100 charge.

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