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How long of attorney non-response until I can stop payments? Case active, no response in 6mo, no bills but I keep making payment

Los Angeles, CA |

I have an attny that does not return my calls (they say he's busy) or emails for 6months. He said a year ago we need to file before it's too late as it is very time sensitive. I have provided all the docs requested. He hasn't filed as agreed. I no longer get bills so I don't know the balance. I keep making my monthly payments est when we agreed in order move forward. Does his failure wipe out my balance? How long can he ignore me before it is malpractice? Whom do I complain to? I believe that his delay will completely null my entire case. Is he responsible for the loss incurred by not acting ($25k)? Do I need to keep making the monthly payments? What do you suggest?

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Attorney answers 4


I suggest you consult with another litigation attorney immediately to assess your situation. Unfortunately, Avvo is a public forum and not set up to give you specific advice on what to do. If you are up against a statute of limitations, it is imperative that you get an attorney to preserve the statute of limitations. No one can really tell you would constitutes legal malpractice without significantly more information. You can always arbitrate or mediate a fee dispute later.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


It may be malpractice is if the attorney's misconduct causes missing the statute of limitations or the delay prejudiced your case, such that the conduct falls below the standards of professionalism for this particular area of law. I'd suggest a letter by U.S. Certified Mail, return receipt requested, asking the attorney for an update on the status of the case, the date when the statute of limitations has or will expire, and when he has or will file the the complaint.

Your letter should also state that if the attorney fails to respond within X days (such as 10 days), you will contact the State Bar of the refusal to communicate and possible harm to your case. I don't know if I would stop the payments, until the attorney fails to respond within the time specified. At this point, we don't know if the delays has caused any dates to expire.

Below is a link to the Cal Bar's complaint information, in case the attorney fails to respond or you determine that you need to file a formal complaint. You may also want to check online with CalBar to ensure that this attorney's record has no other client complaints and the current address.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

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Set an appt to meet with atty. Get all your questions answered, or find new atty.


You have not provided any facts pertaining to your claim, but assuming it is a breach of contract action, you have four years from the date the contract was broken for a written contract in California and two years for an oral contract from the date the contract was broken. You need to talk to your attorney as soon as possible to determine whether he intends to pursue this matter or not, and if not, why not? Apparently you have been paying on a monthly basis an amount you agreed to. Some of my colleagues have mentioned what you might do to contact your attorney. I would immediately set up a meeting with your attorney. Good luck.

Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

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