The big question: How to Ask for Your Money Back from a Lawyer?…
You’re here because chances are, you’re not happy with the service you receive from your lawyer and you’re wondering:
- How can I get my money back from a lawyer?
- Do Lawyers give refunds?
- What to do if your lawyer is not helping you?
- Can you sue for attorney fees?
- What should you do if your attorney doesn’t comply?
When it comes to legal assistance, it’s most often serious, complex stuff. You may spend hours finding the right attorney, or get a recommendation from a friend.
Perhaps you saw a good commercial on TV, or just picked one on an internet search. Regardless of how you came about finding your lawyer, you expect, and deserve, good results from their work.
After all, they’re charging you top dollar, so you want top performance.
If your lawyer doesn’t perform as you expect from them, you may want a refund. But how do you ask for your money back from a lawyer?
Retainers are fees pre-paid for services before the service is rendered. It’s not an uncommon practice, and perfectly acceptable for a lawyer to require a retainer before starting work.
But in cases where, for whatever reason, you and your lawyer no longer work together prior to the case being settled, then you are entitled to any unused money back.
While individual states have their own sets of rules for lawyers, they all adhere to the same policy that if a client-legal counsel relationship ends, the client is owed back any retainer fees not yet used. This is true regardless of the reason for termination.
It can be because you fired the lawyer, or the lawyer fired you. There is a loophole, however. In your retainer agreement, you will sign before starting work with your lawyer, make sure it doesn’t say anything about the retainer being non-refundable.
In that case, it may be more difficult to get your money back should things end prematurely.
A reputable lawyer should refund these fees shortly after the work has been canceled. An acceptable time-frame would be 4-6 weeks.
If they do not, you can make a simple request in writing to obtain them. You don’t need the assistance of any additional legal counsel, just type up a short letter requesting the money back.
Just make sure you do it in writing so there is proof of your request.
Keep a copy for yourself, and don’t forget to sign it.
You could even go a step further and have it notarized which gives proof that you signed it. Y
ou should also mail it to their office using Certified Mail with a signature and return receipt.
If you are firing your lawyer as well as asking for money back, then it’s a good idea to do so in the same letter.
Should you not receive retainer fees owed to you, and you’ve made the written request, there is a help.
The bar association is what oversees lawyers’ actions, practices, and interjects when something goes wrong.
Either state or local agencies will often offer assistance for no cost when someone needs it.
If you’re unsure who to contact to inquire about assistance, start with your local county courthouse. They will often be able to steer you in the right direction.
If the bar association needs to interject, it may lead to an arbitration hearing. This is the formal method of resolving your financial issue with your previous lawyer.
Most lawyers will take this very seriously. The time spent preparing and engaging in an arbitration hearing can be costly to them.
In some cases, they may seem to suddenly agree to return all funds owed in order to avoid the arbitration hearing.
Should the hearing occur, the bar association will help you get back what you are owed.
Unsatisfactory Legal Counsel
Let’s say you hired a lawyer to help you, and they’ve not exactly helped. They’re slow to respond, have provided little or no progress, and you feel like you’re just wasting your time and money.
You’ve decided it’s time to fire them, but you don’t want to lose out on the money spent. Send a written letter explaining that their work has been unsatisfactory.
Request any retainer that has been unused back to you. You may also try to go a step further and request a refund of money paid for services so far for unsatisfactory performance.
The best way to do so is to request a certain percentage back. Keep it simple, and relatively fair related to any work they did do for you.
Keep threats of legal action out of the letter, and just explain why you feel you deserve money back.
Lawyers don’t want their reputation to be tarnished, so in a case like this, they may be willing to settle in some way.
They may offer to negotiate a “refund” at a lower percentage in order to keep you satisfied enough not to blast them on places like social media.
They may also flat out refuse any money back aside from unused retainers.
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to request money back, just keep it well thought out and simple.
If you feel the bad legal counsel is a result of incompetence or unethical practices, you will want to turn to the state’s bar association.
Such examples may include:n this case, you may be entitled to some or all of your money back if the lawyer engaged in an activity the bar finds to be unacceptable.
You may also benefit from hiring another lawyer to look into the poor practices of your initial counsel, but that, of course, will incur additional cost to you. This can be very beneficial if you’ve already spent a large sum you want to try to recoup.
Either way, request a written accounting journal from the lawyer, which should detail the money paid for the work done.
If the lawyer can’t reasonably account for what you’ve paid, and it doesn’t add up to the service you received, it will boost your case.
Having this in hand from the beginning is the best way to start.
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