i prepared diligently and was very engaged. My atty, not so much. missed meetings, charges for emails asking to reschedule, etc. The cost came out to double his estimate and all of my goals were not reached. The statement is by the book. I want to send him a check with all we budgeted, which was over the estimate already, accompanied by an detailed explanation, breakdown fo the invoice and a valid case since it was never communicated as to the rising charges throughout the process though i have records of requesting updates and saying we were tapped. Everything i did on my end was listed as efficient fee managment as i tried to remain very engaged. Any advice on how to approach this with a letter and a check with all that we can afford? Many attempts at client efficiency were in play.
I recommend that you send the attorney a certified letter with all of your allegations clearly and specifically set forth. I'd give the attorney a reasonable amount of time to respond. If there is no response or the response is unsatisfactory, you should inquire with the local bar association if there is a legal fee arbitration procedure in the state where the attorney practices which could hear your concerns and render an opinion.
The foregoing answer is for informational and educational purposes, not for purposes of legal representation. This answer is based on New Jersey law and is necessarily general in nature.. Laws in other states may be different, and each situation is different, so this answer might not apply accurately to you. No attorney client relationship is to be implied from this answer. Always seek independent legal advice
The first thing that you should do is clearly document that you are disputing the attorney's bill. I don't know what the law is in Arizona, but in NY if the fee to be collected by an attorney is about a certain amount ($3000 in NY) there needs to be a written letter of engagement /retainer letter. This letter must explain to the client what the fee is , how the client gets charged and also whether the fees would or would not change throughout the course of the case. Also, once you dispute the bill, you can go item by item through it and specifically address the charges that you feel were unreasonable.
Did you sign a retainer agreement? If you did, or even if you did not, send a certified letter-RRR so you get a green card back from the US Postal Service showing that your letter was received and ask for an itemized statement of the lawyer's bill.
Do you have a written estimate of what the charges were supposed to be? Even if you don't ask why the charged amount is double that which you were quoted.
Further, ask why you did not get a monthly bill alerting you to the ever rising attorney fees the attorney is claiming.
If there are no good explanations and you cannot work it out with the lawyer, you may have the basis for a bar complaint, or if you want to take a gentler approach, a demand for an attorney fee arbitration theough the State Bar in which the lawyer works (if such an option exists)..
I'm sorry this happened to you and hopefully you can work it out without formal litigation. Good luck
In addition to the options suggested by the other lawyers, you may want to look in to fee arbitration through the State Bar of Arizona. It is free to the consumer and is not just a rubber stamp of the lawyer's fees. Check the State Bar of Arizona website for more information.
This answer is for general education purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor is it intended to provide legal advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.
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