27th Sep 2014

You own your claim and your legal file. If the attorney is unresponsive to your needs, pick up your file and get another attorney. A prior attorney has a right to claim an interest in any settlement proceeds based upon his customary hourly rate for any uncompensated time he can prove he worked on the file, only to it’s current partially completed state, and subject to a review by a judge if you feel he is exaggerating his charges. If you do not ultimately recover, he normally does not get paid if he was originally on a contingent fee basis. Read your fee agreement and if you are responsible for costs, he should provide invoices and records showing he has paid out those costs for which he claims reimbursement.

Also, typically no fees are due if you decide to drop your case. Look at the agreement you signed to confirm that. But most contingent fee agreements only convert to an hourly for work performed to the date of cancellation if you fire that attorney and go to another one. If you drop the case entirely, that would not apply. Even in the case of a transfer to another attorney, the fees are still contingent, that is you only pay them out of a recovery. If there is no recovery, there are no fees due. That is why it is called a “contingency”. It is contingent (conditioned) upon you recovering money from which to pay the fees.

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