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Can the lawyer charge the client for their time to review the previous bills if the client disputed the bill for his overcharge?

Los Angeles, CA |

I believe my lawyer overcharged me for my bills. When I requested the detail of work done. They threatened to charge me for their time to review the bills. This was to stop me from questioning. Is this possible for him to do so? Is it considered unethical conduct?

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Most lawyers charge for their time whenever time is spent on behalf of a client. If you timely requested a clarification of charges on any particular statement, that should be handled one way and, IMO, free of charge.

If, on the other hand, you are questioning the charges for three years worth of billing -- I think most attorneys would handle it differently from the first instance and, perhaps, advise you that you would be charged for the time in responding to your inquiry.

Your statements should have included detail. If you are asking your attorney to justify all services performed beyond the detail provided, as opposed to a particular time and charge item, the attorney may be justified in billing you for that time as it will necessarily involve explaining how the charges are necessarily justified in the context of your case.

You, of course, have the option of retaining other counsel if you do not agree with your attorney’s billing practices and you may even institute non-binding fee arbitration. Your attorney has the option of suing you for fees.

Attorney’s usually strive to avoid fee disputes. I suggest you copy the statements wherein you question charges and for each disputed charge, number it on the copied statement. Then, on a separate piece of paper, corresponding to the number on the copy, state your objection to the charge. Then, determine, the amount of any adjustment you seek from adding up all the corrections you believe should be made and suggest 50% of that figure as an overall write-down. Convey that figure to your attorney along with a copy of your work. Your attorney can then very quickly determine whether or not to write-down any charges and/or accept your offer of compromise.

IMO, no -- it is not unethical conduct. You have been forwarded. Good luck.

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Michael Raymond Daymude

Michael Raymond Daymude


*forwarded" should read "forewarned".


It is not unethical as lawyers generally charge for their time.


Most lawyers, as a sensible business decision, would spend a reasonable amount of time with a client explaining the bill in the hopes that such a session could avoid having the client file a fee dispute with the state bar, or in the hopes that such a session could avoid bad will being generated.

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