My father gave me money in the mid-1990's and began managing it for me. In the early 2000's My father remarried and became abusive towards me and he and his new wife used me as a verbal punching bag, having fun by making me a scapegoat and undermining my confidence for sport (narcissistic abuse). I have minor ld's. They gave me a monthly stipend of $2700 which they told me was out of their generosity and kindness. I accepted this monthly stipend and abuse for about 10 years. Fortunately I got my life on track and started a successful online business which I currently run. Recently I discovered that the investments went very well and in the early 2000's four checks totaling over a million dollars were forged by father, sent to S&L banks that currently have no record of my having accounts there (they have to destroy the records after 7 years), and also one check sent several hundred thousand to an unknown vanguard account. The s&l checks used a signature that looks like mine but was forged, while I actually appear to have signed the vanguard check. The $ was never put back. After recent conflicts with these family members I reviewed books and discovered this missing $.
The fees that attorneys can charge are regulated by the Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct. Under ORPC 1.5(a), an attorney cannot ethically charge an excessive fee. To determine what is an excessive fee, ORPC 1.5(b) directs us to consider, among other factors: the time and effort the case requires; the attorney's own level of experience and expertise; the likelihood that the representation might prevent the attorney from doing other work; the relationship between the attorney and the client; and the fees commonly charged by other attorneys in the community.
This is how hourly fees should be evaluated. The amount of a retainer is based on the likely total cost of the case. The idea is usually that the retainer should cover most if not all the likely cost. Remember, the client gets back any unearned portion of the retainer at the end of representation.
Not knowing the lawyer's own experience and reputation or the nature of your relationship, it's hard to surely apply the rules to this proposed fee; but it doesn't seem per se unreasonable. Most experienced attorneys in the Portland area charge about $250 per hour for most hourly work. (I charge $240 an hour, and have over 7 years experience in practice, plus several more in the field of family law.) I might also point out that this sounds like a fairly complex case, if it deals with "forged" instruments going back years - that sort of thing can be very hard to prove, and requires a lot of work - and you seem to want a lot of your attorney's attention and have very high expectations. There also seems to be a lot of money at stake here. All these things militate in favor of the idea that this fee is a reasonable one. You're welcome to shop around, of course, but consider also that you may not want the lowest bidder working for you.
Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br>
At $250 per hour, a $4,000 retainer only covers 16 hours worth of work. Honestly, that is not that much time spent on a case. In fact, typical insurance defense budget for a simple rear-end collision would be about $25,000, and the hourly rates for those attorneys is about half of what your attorney charges.
That only addresses the attorney's work, and given your facts, the attorney may need to hire a handwriting expert and a forensic accountant. Experts alone tend to cost $2-4k each. So, $4,000 for a retainer (which is basically just a security deposit) in my opinion might be a little low.
This response is only general information and is not legal advice. It does not form an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. You should seek a qualified attorney before taking any action related to your inquiry.
In Portland, there are many experienced attorneys who charge $250 per hour and even more. If you have a low to moderate income, you can obtain an attorney through the Modest Means Program of the Oregon State Bar. The Modest Means attorneys only work on certain types of cases and charge $60-$100 per hour. More information about the Modest Means program can be found here: https://www.osbar.org/_docs/public/diy/modestmeansapp.pdf
You also may want to consider doing mediation as an alternative to starting a court case. Mediation involves a neutral third-party facilitating a conversation between you and the opposing party. People are often able to come up with an agreement in mediation without initiating a court case. This can end up saving you a lot of money. The mediator can then write up your agreement so that the agreement can become legally enforceable.
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