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If I believe my lawyers in a wrongful termination- whistleblower had conflict of interest issues & were negligent who to call??

San Francisco, CA |

Nine counts levied, strong evidence, boxes supporting my claim, yet my lawyers waited till I was absolutely broke before 'settling' prior to depositions- 18 months later!! One lawyer had a first cousin on the Board of this 'prestigious' non-profit organization, the other made himself available twice in 18months- and said nothing during the voluntary arbitration. The one lawyer refused to be identified with case since he almost always represents employers. My check arrived from them and not the defendant - and they added 4% extra to the fee without explanation- explaining they lost the original terms and I should have had my own copy??

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Attorney answers 1


No one here can second guess what happened without a lot more information. Your only sure way of knowing if something inappropriate took place is to consult with a malpractice and/or employment attorney. But know first that even if your attorneys were less than perfect, they may have done everything required of them and even more. ]

Your attorneys may not share your view that you have strong and voluminous evidence. They may have thought it was much weaker than you, based on their understanding of the law.

Many cases go on for a very long time. 18 months is not all that unusual these days, unfortunately, because employers are more and more reluctant to agree to settle. Settlement is not fully up to your attorneys. It is also up to the employer and, of couse, to you, as you must approve the settlement.

You cannot assume there was a conflict of interest just because one attorney had a cousin on the board. Maybe they hate each other. Or maybe your attorney received good help from the cousin and your case was strengthened by it.

Most firms that assign more than one attorney to a case still have a lead or primary attorney who does most of the work. The fact that one of your attorneys was less of a participant than the other is not by itself inappropriate. Even if the other attorney was quiet during the arbitration, his or her presence might have added to the value of the case by showing there are two attorneys involved, by his or her good name, or in some other way. And even if not, that does not mean his or her presence detracted in any way.

How can it be that one of the attorneys refused to be identified with the case if both were at the arbitration?

The check is likely to have arrived from the attorneys because (1) it was most likely made out to the attorneys' client trust account, which is standard procedure, and the attorney deducted their fees and sent you the rest, and (2) it would usually be impermissible for an opposing attorney to communicate directly with a represented party.

If you do not understand the 4 per cent deduction, ask your attorneys to explain it or reimburse you for it.

Yes, the attorneys should have a copy of the fee agreement and so should you. The attorney is in a better position to keep track of the records and has a legal duty to do so.

You might consider writing to your attorneys regarding the 4 per cent, keep a copy for yourself, send it certified, and ask them to justify the fee by showing a copy of your prior agreement to that 4 per cent and if they cannot, ask them to pay it to you. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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