Category: Business and Money
Asked by: regino-ga
List Price: $10.00
08 Nov 2006 09:32 PST
Expires: 08 Dec 2006 09:32 PST
Question ID: 781079
Hello I live in Texas and just had a run in with a lawyer. I contacted him for advice on setting up an Estate Plan and he mailed me a questionaire to complete and told me over the phone that there would not be a charge for the initial one hour consultation. I never completed the forms but we did have a one hour meeting. After our meeting I got a call from his secretary about setting up the next meeting and told her that due to all the uncertenties with the new Congress I wanted to waite so she sent me an invoice for $295. and said it would be deducted from our next meeting. I feel like I've been ripped off - do I have any recourse?
Re: Attorney Problem
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 08 Nov 2006 12:36 PST
Dear regino-ga; Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. Certainly if you believe you are being charged irrisposibly or unfairly you do have recourse. As one of the posts below pointed out it appears that you have not established a formal attorney/client relationship. In addition, you were merely taking advantage of a complimentary information gathering consultation that was verbally represented to you as a gratis offering. Indeed it may be a good idea to POLITELY and PROFESSIONALLY respond to the attorney in writing. In your very non-confrontational letter the initial position you should take is that you have notice an error in their billing that is probably the result of an unfortunate oversight. Briefly explain the circumstances. This should convey, but not necessarily state outright, that you are, in no uncertain terms, refusing to pay the bill. Be sure you send your letter registered mail and make a copy of both the letter and the return receipt (the return receipt will also have a tracking number on it). You may need these documents if the attorney responds negatively. If he persists you still have a viable option at your disposal - one that will almost certainly ?call off the dogs? if in fact the attorney is acting unprofessionally. In the event you are not relieved of this financial obligation you may have cause file a misconduct complaint that may in turn stimulate an investigation and perhaps even disciplinary action by the Office of the General Counsel State Bar of Texas. If you continue to receive invoices, calls or find that your credit has been negatively affected due to nonpayment of this supposed obligation you should contact them here. Be prepared to provide dates and times of the complimentary consultations or subsequent phone calls as well as copies of all correspondences including a copy of the invoice: Office of the General Counsel State Bar of Texas P.O. Box 12487 Austin, Texas 78711-2487 (512) 463-1463 1-800-932-1900 (toll-free) ?The Office of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas distributes a brochure titled "Attorney Complaint Information" which is designed to answer some common questions about the State Bar's disciplinary process. The Texas Ethics Reporter publishes opinions about attorney ethics and disciplinary actions to facilitate understanding in this area. "All lawyers in Texas have an obligation to maintain a high standard of ethical conduct toward their clients and others. To enforce this standard, the State Bar of Texas investigates and prosecutes complaints of professional misconduct against attorneys licensed in Texas." -- From the first page of the brochure "Attorney Complaint Information." Below are set forth the Questions and Answers from the brochure. Any references in the answers to "our" are references to the State Bar of Texas authorities. If you have any further questions about this process, please call the Office of the General Counsel of the State Bar of Texas at 1-800-932-1900 toll-free.? UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON LAW CENTER http://www.law.uh.edu/libraries/ethics/attydiscipline/howfile.html Be sure you read this article from the State Bar that explain the procedure that should be followed with regard to fee disputes: TEXAS STATE BAR CLIENT ASSISTANCE & GRIEVANCE http://www.texasbar.com/Template.cfm?Section=Client_Attorney_Assistance&CONTENTID=3377&TEMPLATE=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm You will find the grievance form and instructions on this page http://www.texasbar.com/Template.cfm?Section=Client_Attorney_Assistance&CONTENTID=3367&TEMPLATE=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm Here is the State Bar of Texas Grievance Hotline: toll-free (800)932-1900. I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have any questions about my research please post a clarification request prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us. Best regards; Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher INFORMATION SOURCES UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON LAW CENTER http://www.law.uh.edu/ STATE BAR OF TEXAS http://www.texasbar.com/ SEARCH STRATEGY SEARCH ENGINE USED: Google ://www.google.com SEARCH TERMS USED: TEXAS BAR ATTORNEY COMPLAINT FEE GREIVANCE
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Excellent work. Thank you for your help and thank you for the comments as well. I am so glad I found this site, it is a wonderful way to help one another out.
Re: Attorney Problem
From: nelson-ga on 08 Nov 2006 10:52 PST
You haven't been ripped off until you actually lose any money. Write a letter to the attorney. Make a copy and send it registered mail. Tell him that you have not established a client-attorney relationship and that you will not be paying him, since you only had the free initial consultation.
Re: Attorney Problem
From: ubiquity-ga on 08 Nov 2006 11:52 PST
I agree with the person above in large. However, an attorney-client relationship was formed! Which is to say, anything you told the attorney is confidential. I would write a letter to the attorney, as stated above, and inform him that if he continue to request an invoice, your next letter will be to the bar association. If he continue, write a letter to the bar association and cc a copy to him. If you have anything in writing, an advertisement or whatever that sayd the consultation was free, include a copy of that.
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