6 Possibilities to Solve Client-Lawyer Fee Disputes
Category : Legal | 1056 views | 2007-04-02 12:35:02
The most common dispute between lawyers and clients is that of fees. Somehow money becomes a bone of contention and things do get nasty with both parties refusing to budge an inch.
When hiring a lawyer you need to be bold enough to ask for fee terms and conditions to be written down in the contract. To prevent being overcharged you need to know how lawyers compute their fees and insist on itemized billing on a weekly/monthly basis. Never wait until the completion of the case.
On your part keep a log book in which you record: advances given to lawyer; meetings held along with duration; phone calls made, note down how many minutes; court appearances and so on. The more detailed the record maintained by you the better.
Check all bills submitted by the lawyer carefully and do not hesitate to ask about any discrepancies that come to your attention.
When you are disturbed by the bill or are convinced there is something amiss you must try and settle the fee dispute by:
1. Ask for a meeting with the lawyer to discuss billing. Take with you a copy of the bill. Highlight amounts that need clarification or verification. Be bold and discuss the matter upfront. More often than not by being candid the dispute may just get solved. Your lawyer will either explain the amounts or agree to verify the bill and correct any discrepancies.
2. Since fee disputes between lawyers and clients is becoming extremely common, in several states Legal Fee Arbitration Boards have been set up. See, http://www.ncsc.dni.us/KMO/Topics/ADR/Resources/attorneyfees.html . The board has been set up to save the time of small claims, district, and superior courts.
3. Consider mediation services set up by Bar Associations. These programs have mediators who will hear both sides of the dispute and try to solve the problem amicably. The agreement reached will be documented in writing with both the lawyer and client signing it.
4. Get another lawyer or lawyers office to check the accuracy of the bill. In cases of over billing or billing for unreasonable expenses an outside party, a lawyer who is unrelated to your lawyer would be able to give an opinion. Alternately you could seek the advice of the local Bar Association.
5. File a suit against the lawyer. Hire a lawyer who has experience in dealing with lawyer-client fee disputes.
6. File a complaint against the lawyer with the Bar Association. Find out what the correct procedure for a disciplinary complaint or malpractice action entails.
To be fair to the lawyer and yourself, always determine what is considered to be reasonable. There are references to fees chargeable and what a lawyer must and can do all over the World Wide Web. When appointing a lawyer discuss fees with him and ensure that you draw up a contract or agreement that details fee structure.
Aaron Brooks is a freelance writer for http://www.1866attorney.com , the premier website to find Attorney Directory including topics on civil right, litigation, defense, attorney power, legal services, prosecuting all crimes and much more. His article profile can be found at the premier Article Submission Directory http://www.1888articles.com