How to behave if my lawyer cheats on me
What steps should I take if my lawyer deceives me if he wants to charge me more in the bill if he does not comply with the agreement if he does not answer my calls, etc?
“My lawyer is cheating on me” is the first result that Google returns when we enter the word lawyer in the search field, which is not necessarily to say that our group should be equated to that of gangsters or that our moral standards are the same. floors, but of course, it speaks clearly that the opinion that ordinary citizens have of us is not particularly flattering.
In particular, I do not believe that our profession is made up of worse (or of course better) people than -for example- the branch of newsstands. What is certain is that the worst that can happen if my newsstand deceives me is that he messes up my change or does not include the Sunday newspaper supplement, while if my lawyer deceives me he can organize a mess for me of incalculable consequences.
My lawyer deceives me with the bill
This is a classic among the complaints from clients: the lawyer who has agreed on a certain fee schedule with the client and who at the moment of truth passes an invoice to the collection that has nothing to do with the one agreed, alleging complications and unforeseen events or concepts that – it is said – were explained on the first visit and that the client did not understand.
Without going into each specific case, these problems would be avoided if, on the first appointment or at the time the client hires the lawyer’s services, the latter drafts an order form that is signed by both parties and which details the final price of the service or at least the parameters that allow it to be calculated. The users of the law firms must begin to demand from lawyers the same thing that they would demand from any other self-employed person: a closed estimate of the work to be carried out.
That is very well – they will tell me – but what should I do if my lawyer cheats me with the bill of fees?
The first thing you should know is that if the lawyer has not given you an order sheet stating what you have to charge, this does not mean that you can claim whatever you want. On the contrary: in this case, the lawyer must pay them based on the book of minimum fees of the bar association of the place where the lawyer practices.
Each bar association has a book of minimum fees, the obligation of which, although it was emptied by the so-called Omnibus law, still persists in the event that the parties have not reached an agreement on the final price of the legal service (the order sheet to which I was referring). Therefore, if there is no order sheet, the bill must be governed by the rules of the fee book.
This book can be obtained at the school itself, and in fact, many can obtain it for free in pdf format on the website of the school in their municipality or province.
This being the case, to find out if my lawyer is cheating on me with the bill, what I should do is first ask him to send me his broken-down fees, and then see if the items he wants to charge us correspond or not with those dictated by the professional association. If the lawyer refuses to send us his minutes, what proceeds is to send him a buro fax demanding it.
With this, we achieve that if he later sues us, we can prove that he has breached the prerequisite of informing us of the concepts that make up the amount he claims from us.
If despite all the lawyer sues us, either through a payment order or through an oath of accounts, we can answer the demand challenging the excessive fees (to do this writing we do not need a lawyer or attorney). With this, we get the bill to be sent to the bar association so that the fees commission can rule on whether or not it is correct.
My lawyer is cheating on me
But the perception that my lawyer is deceiving me can exceed the financial issues. Other complaints that can be included in this headline would be of the type my lawyer has sold out, my lawyer is lying to me, my lawyer is not budging, etc.
At this point, I would like to break a spear in favor of my professional group: in more than twenty-five years of profession, I have not had evidence or half-founded suspicions that any colleague has sold out, in the sense that they agree to lose a lawsuit in exchange of financial compensation from the counterparty.
I’m not saying that this hasn’t happened, but I certainly find it improbable that -for example- a lawyer sabotages a divorce trial in order to get his client to pay alimony of 250 euros, instead of the 200 that had been proposed in his initial argument. And it is that in the cases of “day to day” selling out to the enemy is not only immoral but unprofitable.
A different thing is when the interests or views on the future of a matter are different with respect to the lawyer and his client. It happens with a relative frequency that a certain friendly transaction – especially if the sum is sweet and the risks of going to court high – may be well regarded by the lawyer but instead be insufficient for the individual.
In these cases, trust and communication must be maximum, in such a way that the client understands the pros and cons of rejecting the offer and does not harbor any doubts about the convergence of the interests of his lawyer and his. For their part, lawyers have to limit our function on occasions to advising and explaining the risks, but ultimately respecting the client’s will to go to trial or not.
Another factor that can contribute to our perception that our lawyer is deceiving us is a lack of communication. The work of the lawyers in a large part of the file is invisible to the eyes of the client. The filing of the claim, the study of the procedure, the communications with lawyers and solicitors, the preliminary hearing, the preparation of the hearing, etc., take place without our clients having knowledge of them.
This can lead to the view of our defendants that we are not doing anything and that if the procedure does not advance at a reasonable speed it is partly our fault. Our collective, let’s face it, is not especially good at selling our services to the client, And if we have to choose between evacuating a requirement with a deadline or explaining to Mrs. Enriqueta the status of her file, we will most likely opt for the first possibility.
We have to understand -and here we are also trailing the rest of the professionals- that it is not enough to be a good lawyer, but we must also appear to be one.