The question really centers on whether you signed a retainer and what the terms of the retainer agreement were. In New York, attorneys are supposed to have retainer agreements signed for all legal services where the fee exceeds $3,500.00. If you are being charged on an hourly rate the attorney is supposed to send itemized statements of the hours and fees every 60 days at a minimum. If he did not send those invoices he is not entitled to payment. Either way, the fee seems excessive as real estate closings are generally billed as a flat fee. If the closing has not taken place yet you can hire new counsel.
This e-mail may contain confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return e-mail and delete this e-mail and all copies and attachments. If you are not the intended recipient, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. IRS Circular 230 Notice: Unless specifically stated otherwise, any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Unless specifically stated otherwise, this communication shall not be deemed to be legal or tax advice, and no attorney-client relationship shall be deemed to have been created.
You may want to consult with another attorney to see what you would be charged.
This answer does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationship has been formed. Before choosing a course of action, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an attorney in your area.
I agree with the above posters in all respects re: a written retainer. However the absence of a retainer does not mean that the attorney is not entitled to charge a reasonable fee for work performed. Whether the fee is reasonable is another question altogether.
Every real estate closing is different, but $10k sounds a bit excessive for a simple deal within NYC. Especially considering that you were initially quoted $1k. That being said, the fee in a real estate deal can vary based upon purchase price, the type of property, whether it is new construction, along with a thousand other items. Are there any complicating factors? Was the attorney extensively involved in negotiations of purchase price and other items?
As mentioned, you can always fire your lawyer and use someone else to close the deal. However be wary as this attorney will expect to be paid. I would immediately request an itemized bill for you to review. If you do not agree with it, the best way to protect your rights is to write a letter to the lawyer explaining why you do not agree with the bill and remind him of the initial quote. Feel free to bounce more questions about this because it sounds like a difficult situation.
The aforementioned opinion does not constitute legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. See an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for competent legal advice. No attorney-client relationship has been formed through the within legal question and answer session.