I hired an attorney to assist me in a simple matter, with an agreed-upon "limited scope." We agreed on his hourly rate, and that I would make a $3,000 advance payment "which I would replenish if/as necessary." Other than that we had no written fee agreement and I received ZERO billing statements from him. Nine months later, three months after the issue was fully resolved, he's now claiming that I owe him an additional ~$4,000 via a block-billed invoice that includes vague items like "legal research." He never notified me that the advance payment had been extinguished, or how. He's now suing me in small claims court for the $4,000.
Was(n't) he required to notify me months ago that the advance payment needed replenishing? Did he breach our "contract?" Did I? What's my smartest move here? Many thanks in advance.
Probably not. Have the fee agreement and facts reviewed by a ethics/professional responsibility attorney.
Sounds like a John Karl stunt. He didn't provide a bill for over 8 years and then provided padded block bills.
Blocked billing is disfavored because it is easily padded.
What does your representation agreement say?
The smart move? First try to mediate. Second if that fails try to get him into ACAB arbitration.
Ask him to mediate. If he refused or mediation fails, then move small claims to stay the case. If they stay then arbitrate it.
Mediation and arbitration take about a day each. Or less, a few hours.
Litigation can take years.
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