You offer a lot of IF's here.
Lawyers are paid for their time. So this other firm my have advanced the matter in many respects even though the case has not concluded. This does not mean they do not get paid for that time spent.
In my mind, your first priority is to make sure you get appropriate counsel on the case so it can be resolved. Once you have identified that counsel, you should discuss this issue with that lawyer in great detail and see if it appears there is anything that can be done. that is, what exactly are your rights here?
You can also contact your state bar or court and inquire there as well regards to your rights.
Most of us here, including myself, offer a free phone consult.
The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. Feel free to call for a free phone consultation; your inquiries are always welcome: CONTACT: 866-871-8655 Support@LanternLegal.com DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.
(1) Just hire ANOTHER attorney to take care of your case.
(2) If you cannot settle your refund then file a complaint with
the State Bar Association to adjudicate this mess. They'll
let you know if you're entitled to any refunds and/or how
much. They will also look into your "disappearing" lawyer
and WHY the Law Firm couldn't/wouldn't cover his work.
THIS ANSWER IS PURELY FOR ACADEMIC DISCUSSION ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE ANY TYPE OF LEGAL ADVICE OR LEGAL REPRESENTATION.
Feel free to contact me with more details. The attorney can bill for the time spent-but the fee must be reasonable. If the retainer was used up and billed for time spent, the attorney is not required to return it. My office is in Marlette. I do handle cases in your area. Feel free to contact me. www.lawmelton.com