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Ethical violation for Attorney to fail to pay contractor in NY?

New York, NY |

I wrote web content for an attorney's law practice in NY. However, after about a month since completing the work that attorney is no longer taking my calls or emails and has not paid. I would like to file a complaint against the attorney, but I need a little guidance on what basis of law I could bring it under.

I know I have a breach of contract action, but It is not worth it to bring a small claims action because I live in California, the attorney is in NY though. I was hoping that NY had a vague rule that attorneys needed to act in means consistent with truth as they do in CA so I could bring a grievance under that rule.

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Attorney answers 4


Small claims court in NYC is up to $5,000 dollars. Above that amount NYC Civil Court would apply.

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If you are asking about a grievance, an attorney's failure to pay a bill is not considered professional misconduct, and the grievance committee would most likely decline to act on your complaint. What you really have is a breach of contract action which you can file in court.

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Your attorney breached a contract to pay for web services. File a small claim action against the attorney under a breach of contract claim or unjust enrichment claim.

DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


Not generally an ethical failure. Tell you what though, I do some web design work from time to time as a consultant, and I have run into this issue. And oooh it just chaps my you know what.

When it comes to collecting, when you don't want to sue, the best thing to do is become a pest. We can charitably hope that the attorney is down on his luck and unable to pay your bill right now. So letters, emails and phone calls, all under appropriate collection laws, of course. You would just have to be patient and see what happens.

Filing in small claims court isn't that expensive, but if you are talking about something under 1k, you are right, not worth the hassle.

Another option, if you are just looking to show the lawyer that you don't appreciate being stiffed is to go the 1099 route. Essentially you forget about the debt and report it as income to the business. I put a link below for you that gives you an idea what I am talking about. It is Cancellation of Debt Form 1099 C.

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