I paid a $2500 "non-refundable retainer" to an attorney to represent me in my divorce. However, after the initial consultation (in which nothing was prepared or done; we just talked for a bit and I paid the retainer), all she did was speak to me on the phone twice for less than five minutes. I advised her I did not wish to continue with the filing and asked her to kindly refund my retainer. Three days later, she is non-responsive to my efforts. Can I legally get this back since she didn't do any work for me, even though the contract states it is a "non-refundable retainer"?Wording: " I agree to pay the firm a non-refundable initial retainer fee of $2500, the sum of which has been paid on July 19th, 2012. The amount of this fee is earned on signing this agreement and is paid in exchange for the Firm's agreement to make itself available to me for the duration of this engagement. I will be credited for the amount of the retainer fee against the initial billings in this engagement." She was "employed" three business days. She did approx 40 min of work (consult and two or three short phone calls). This would amount to $208 bucks of her hourly rate. Also, it was charged to my mom's credit card, who was not present when card was charged and did not personally sign for it. I don't know if this makes a difference. Could she dispute the fee?
Did you sign a retainer agreement? It is likely that other than a section on the retainer being "non-refundable" there were also sections that included the obligations of the attorney. It appears that the attorney may have breached those obligations. I would have to see the retainer agreement in order to get a better idea as to whether or not you can put forth a noble effort to get back the money you disbursed.
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The response by attorney Heitner is an important aspect of the analysis. In addition, you will also need to consider whether the fee is "clearly excessive" in violation of FL Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 4-1.5(a). Without seeing the actual document and knowing the nature of the work to be handled, it is difficult to say whether the amounts paid are "clearly excessive" in relation to the work done and the result obtained.
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