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Q: Attorney Problem - for tutuzdad ONLY. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Attorney Problem - for tutuzdad ONLY.
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: regino-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 09 Nov 2006 10:23 PST
Expires: 09 Dec 2006 10:23 PST
Question ID: 781393
Dear tutuzdad-ga
What do you think about this response.  Please feel free to make
suggestions. Thanks.
Dear Sir:

First of all, I want to thank you for seeing me on Nov. 1, 2006 to
discuss the possibility of setting up an Estate Plan for me.  Since
you had indicated previously over the phone that there would not be a
charge for the initial one hour consultation, I believe that there may
have been a misunderstanding in your office because I received an
invoice via email for $295.00.

As you know, the whole idea behind this initial meeting (which I was
under the complete understanding that it was introductory in nature
which in fact it was), was to be free of charge.  I was merely taking
advantage of a complimentary information gathering consultation that
was verbally represented to me as a gratis offering.  This was a
meeting to explore the possibility of setting up an Estate Plan and
for you to give me your qualifications for being the right person to
appoint for the job.  At this point, I still have not established a
formal attorney/client relationship with you or your firm.

As I told your office  when they called me about setting up our next
meeting, due to the many changes that will come about as a result of
the new Congress, I prefer to wait until the dust settles before I
proceed with this project.  In the meantime, please explain to your
accounting department that they have erroneously billed me.

I plan to get back in touch with you at a later date whenever I feel
it?s time to proceed at which time I will officially appoint you to
represent me.

Subject: Re: Attorney Problem - for tutuzdad ONLY.
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 09 Nov 2006 11:06 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
As per our normal ceveat, our disclaimer below reminds our customers
that our answers are not intended to replace infromaed legal advice.
What I can tell you is what "I" would do, since you seem to be
soliciting my opinion:

I think your letter sounds fine. You might consider some revisions to
the last two paragraphs though and I'll tell you why. They not only
lack strong position and imply future obligations but they also
"suggest" (a clever attorney will be reading this mind you) that some
of the misunderstanding just MIGHT be your fault.

You can't "misunderstand a misrepresentation". You see what I mean? If
you concede to that or give the impression that you might be willing
to concede to it under pressure, you may continue to be pressured. I'd
make it clear that I am firm in my desire to make that pressure
(calls, bills, etc) stop - immediately - until you decide it is time
to form a professional relationship with him. What I think you should
do is make it clear that any misunderstanding his HIS and HIS ALONE.
You don't THINK you are right (as your paragraphs imply), you KNOW you
are right and you ARE NOT planning to pay for a free consultation.

I would replace them with something like this paragraph that ends on a
firmer note and does not create an atmosphere of promise or future

"When your office called me to schedule additional meetings I made it
clear that I was not prepared to pursue the matter beyond the free
consultation you generously provided to me. Shortly thereafter I was
confused and disappointed when I recieved an erroneous bill from your
office for services that I neither requested nor recieved. Please
correct this accounting error and provide me with reassurance that it
has been corrected. If I determine that I need "formal" legal counsel
with regard to the issues we discussed during the complimentary
consultation I will gladly consider retaining your paid services if
your invitation remains open."

That's what I would say, but you might think differently. Here's what
I think your closing should achieve:

-- Briefly state your confusion and disappointment over the error
-- Affirm your clear understanding of the "no obligation" terms of a
normal "free consultation"
-- Let him know that you are not a pushover and that you want
"confirmation" that the problem has been corrected (if not an apology,
but let's not get too carried away here.)
-- Let him know that YOU will decide when (or if) the professional
relationship begins (if ever)
-- Make no promises nor concede to any misunderstandings on your part. 

Good luck;

regino-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Many thanks.  Good point.

Subject: Re: Attorney Problem - for tutuzdad ONLY.
From: frde-ga on 09 Nov 2006 15:31 PST
I must confess that nowadays I would just photocopy the invoice and
write 'GET STUFFED' on it in red (preferably with a thick felt pen).

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