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How can I find out if my former attorney's actions and billing practices were truly unethical and fraudulent?

Gettysburg, PA |

I was billed over $8,000 for a simple divorce that was never granted. I was asked to produce the same documents repeatedly; when I questioned this I was instructed to, "play nice." I was billed every time the request was made, when documents were read by her secretary and reviewed by the attorney, for the copies and the postage to send to all parties - including ME. I asked that copies not be made and sent to me as I had the originals but was told it would be "unethical" to not. She also sat SILENTLY throughout an hour long 'conference' during which my spouse's atty verbally attacked me. She later explained that she did so as "...everyone knows he's psycho" and she didn't wish to engage him...There is more and correspondence regarding the requests. I want to know my options, if any.

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Attorney answers 1


The first step I would take, in your situation is to discuss your bill with the lawyer and see if she can reduce your bill for the requests that were made more than once and any time involved in those requests. To me, that seems the place where you would have the best chance of a deduction. Whether she will grant you one, of course, is up to your lawyer.

As far as your lawyer's choice to sit silently, that will likely be considered her tactics, for which whatever fee she charged during the time she sat there would be appropriate. She was still there and your dislike in how she handled the situation comes down to a personality disagreement more than a fee issue. Sometimes, lawyers and clients disagree as to how something was (or should be) handled.

Review your fee agreement as to postage and copies. Such things are normally charged in a family law case, and the explanation as to why you were sent copies would be acceptable to me.

In the end, if you believe that the fees were inappropriate, would be to file a fee dispute. I would start by checking to see if the county in which your lawyer is located has a bar association which provides a fee arbitration option. But keep in mind, a fee dispute is normally only successful when the lawyer overcharged in an obvious and extreme fashion.

I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

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