I had a previous lawyer for about 3 weeks before I fired him for a lack of communication. I called as well as sent emails that were disregarded. I was recently made aware that he have a lien on my case for future earnings.; however he didn't do anything on my case. All the paperwork he had came directly from me. All he did was sent 2 email to the other party saying that he represents me. Is he still entitled to 33 and 1/3? Please help.
Without seeing your agreement and knowing more, I could not give an opnion. However, if you contact the State Bar, they have a a fee arbitration process and you could ask for that. While contingent fees are generally reasonable in personal injury cases, any fee must be reasonable under all of the circumstances.
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The answer is yes; if this was a personal injury case and you signed a fee agreement, even with your firing the lawyer or their law firm, they can hold you to their 1/3 lien: the leading case on the issue in Wisconsin is Tonn v Reuter, 6 Wis. 2d, 498, (1959). You are free to look for another personal injury lawyer to take over your case; you will not have to pay another 1/3 to your new lawyer; instead, the new lawyer will need to work out a fee split on how the original 1/3 lien gets divided between the two lawyers; it doesn't affect your net recovery; it simply means each of the two law firms will have to split the fee and they each make less money on the deal.
You can also file a grievance with the office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR) in Madison, if your attorney failed to communicate with you. Attorneys are under a duty ethically to communicate with their clients and advise them of all aspects of the case in a reasonable fashion; that doesn't mean "instantaneously" but if the attorney takes days or weeks to respond, or doesn't respond at all, there is a problem.
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