Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Returned fee

I am a solo. Had 2 client's ask for fees back yesterday. Fi boomeresq12/27/17
Why are you giving back the money? My retainer on flat fee c thirdtierlaw12/27/17
You did some work so you get paid for it. A retainer, in par nighthawk12/27/17
Yeah. Why are you giving the money back? I would occasionall fettywap12/27/17
Never give back earned fees. You earned them. Tell them you cocolawyer12/27/17
Not to say that low-end law isn't crap for other reasons? superttthero12/27/17
Man never give back fees. You earned them. You dealt with th cocolawyer12/27/17
First, why is the family of the defendant-and not the defend toooldtocare12/27/17
Do not give the family the money back. I do not know the siz orange912/27/17
I return unearned only. Client is under a disability so fami boomeresq12/27/17
Please tell me you said, "sorry, I don't work with clients I thirdtierlaw12/27/17
You mean they couldn't just talk to the prosecutor and make anothernjlawyer12/27/17
I was tempted to say hasta la vista but given the new much w boomeresq12/28/17
boomeresq (Dec 27, 2017 - 4:43 am)

I am a solo. Had 2 client's ask for fees back yesterday. First time in decades. One small sum. Resolved case successfully small amount of fee left over.

Second medium size retainer. Major criminal case. Heavy issues. Entered appearance, started discovery prior to arraignment date. Family of client decides case is going away, claims to have called prosecutor and wants retainer back. I have to draft and file motion and affidavit to withdraw and may have to appear in court. Needless to say, I will do it. I am totally pissed. Could you imagine hiring a plumber and plumber starts work and you tell plumber pipes are fixing themselves, go away and give me my money back too?

I am sick of sh$$ law. I have no way out, too many years in, spouse chronically ill and no earning capacity, I am sole breadwinner. Spouse's health getting worse and more tests next week. This is worse economic time of year and I am losing ground.
Moral of story, get out of law while you can or never start. It's too late for me. I should have retired several years ago but a sick spouse and the great recession destroyed that.

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thirdtierlaw (Dec 27, 2017 - 12:19 pm)

Why are you giving back the money? My retainer on flat fee cases has requires that they still pay me for my hours worked.

You worked, you should get paid. Simple as that. Also the family can't make that decision for the client. I'd get a letter from the client explaining why he or she no longer needs you. This way, when the case is inevitably not dismissed, you are covered. If the State was going to make the case go away, why would they tell the family but not you?

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nighthawk (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:26 pm)

You did some work so you get paid for it. A retainer, in part, is made for these types of circumstances. It seems that you even had some thought that you should give it back. With that mentality that is probably part of why you are in this position in the first place.

Try doc review. They do not ask for money back so you will not feel compelled to give it. To speak with clients, use the mensroom when you make calls, it serves as your branch office. You don't need to feel guilty about taking off time to go to court, someone else will take the batch from Relativity while you are out.

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fettywap (Dec 27, 2017 - 12:25 pm)

Yeah. Why are you giving the money back? I would occasionally have a client call me around Christmas time and yell at me for a refund, because they were too lazy to work and expected me to pay their bills. I always said no, no matter what dumb threats they made. The prosecutor would not have talked to the defendant's family. That's not ethical.

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cocolawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 12:40 pm)

Never give back earned fees. You earned them. Tell them you earned them and that you are glad your work on the case expeditiously convinced the DA not to file charges. Your experience and profound knowledge of the system, plus reputation made the DA wet themselves.

If that doesn't work tell them to read the contract and eat a D***. I have become much less apologetic since I have went to work for the GOVT.

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superttthero (Dec 27, 2017 - 12:46 pm)

Not to say that low-end law isn't crap for other reasons?

First time in decades and one was tiny? Sounds like you're doing good work. For some this is a weekly/monthly occurrence.

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cocolawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 1:33 pm)

Man never give back fees. You earned them. You dealt with that BS client. Screw them.

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toooldtocare (Dec 27, 2017 - 2:02 pm)

First, why is the family of the defendant-and not the defendant-calling the shots? Even if they are paying, it's up to him. And more importantly, if he wants you off the case, he's got to tell you. Telling the judge you want out b/c the family says so won't cut it.
Second, you earned your fees. Prepare a detailed statement of all the time you spent, with appropriate billing amounts. If there's anything left-after, of course, the defendant himself telling you that he wants you out-then refund it. If not, then you have every right to keep the fee.

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orange9 (Dec 27, 2017 - 3:19 pm)

Do not give the family the money back. I do not know the size of the retainer or how much work you have done, but you can't just write them a check. At the very most, offer them a small portion back and say that it is all they are entitled to given the amount of work that you did, unless you can justify keeping the entire fee.
I do not know what your fee agreement says, but is there any language regarding when the fee is considered fully earned. Also, for future practice, it is a good idea to include an hourly rate that is used in case there is an early termination before the fee is fully earned. That way you can say hey you agreed to this rate and I worked this many hours, and in criminal work, many times this will eat up the entire fee and justify giving nothing back.

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boomeresq (Dec 27, 2017 - 7:36 pm)

I return unearned only. Client is under a disability so family has legal authority. Client now in deeper sh$$. Dangeous situation needs immediate representation. Hearing this week. They came running back this pm.

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thirdtierlaw (Dec 27, 2017 - 8:18 pm)

Please tell me you said, "sorry, I don't work with clients I do not trust, but best of luck in your future endeavors."

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anothernjlawyer (Dec 27, 2017 - 8:07 pm)

You mean they couldn't just talk to the prosecutor and make it all go away???


I really hope you added 75 bucks to your hourly rate as [email protected]@hole tax when they came back.

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boomeresq (Dec 28, 2017 - 3:49 am)

I was tempted to say hasta la vista but given the new much worse case, I substantially increased the fee in proportion to the additional case.

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