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I pd my lawyer for a trial case we ended up settling and not going to trial. Can i get the money back for the trial?

Lebanon, MO |

I Paid in advance for a trial on custody my ex and i settled instead of going to trial I paid over $10,000 since we didn't go to trial and I paid in advance does my lawyer owe me that money back? And Every time I ask for a bill or invoice his office wont give me one.

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Filed under: Filing a lawsuit
Attorney answers 3


First, be advised that I practice in New Jersey, not Missouri.

From your question it is unclear whether your paid your attorney a retainer to bill against or $10,000 to try a case. If you paid a retainer, your attorney would be entitled to collect those fees he incurred in preparing/settling the case against the $10,000 retainer. In New Jersey (I don't know about Missouri), an attorney cannot have a non-refundable retainer. The attorney is only entitled to payment equal to the work he performed.

I would recommend writing to your attorney and asking for an invoice.

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that this post is not intended to constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This posting in on way creates an attorney client relationship. You should contact an attorney to protect your interests.


Hopefully, you had a written fee agreement with the lawyer. Assuming you did, it should provide your rights and obligations regarding the advance. If there was no written fee agreement, then you might need to have a hearing to determine what your agreement was.

I would document, in writing, all of your attempts to contact the attorney. The State Bar may have a fee dispute resolution service you can take advantage of, if you are unable to work this out on your own.

You can also take the lawyer to court, if need be. But this is probably a last resort, since you would perhaps be at a legal disadvantage. Your lawyer is likely entitled to some of the money you paid, in compensation for the work that was performed. You are due an itemized invoice, at the very least. Good luck to you!

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


Send a certified letter to the attorney asking for an itemized bill within a week or two, along with a demand for a return of any unearned fees. Send a second copy regular mail, and keep a copy for yourself. Wait for a response. If you haven't received a response by the expiration of the time, go to the below link, and follow the instructions. (You probably want to review it before sending your letter so you don't miss anything along the way.)

If you have further questions, feel free to contact me through the contact information on my website. This is a general description of legal rules practices, and is not intended to be relied upon as legal counsel in this particular situation. There is no attorney-client relationship established by the answering of this question, and no expectation of representation in offering this general information.

James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick


Good practical answer.