What can you do if your attorney's bill is higher than expected?

You signed a contract with your attorney, and you thought for certain that the hourly rate you agreed upon, as well as the retainer, would be enough to cover your case under a budget you'd specified. In fact, when you discussed it with your attorney, they agreed that you had more than enough put aside to handle the case.

That's why your jaw dropped when you saw the bill come in the mail. Assorted fees had been added on, and the hourly rate didn't appear to be what you'd agreed to at all. On top of that, the total number of hours you're being charged for seems completely off. On one day, you know you spoke with the attorney for only a few minutes, but he'd charged you for an hour-long session.

What should you do if your attorney sends you a bill that is larger than expected?

To start with, your attorney does have to base their charges on the agreement they have with you. If what you're being charged now seems inconsistent with that agreement, then you need to reach out to your attorney and ask for an explanation.

Even if an explanation for excessive charges is given, you may believe that the charges are still too high. In that case, you may want to:

  • Pay the bill and file a complaint through the state
  • Negotiate with the attorney, so you can seek a fairer price
  • Take the attorney to arbitration, so that the arbitrators can decide on a reasonable price

If taking reasonable steps doesn't work, you can talk to a new attorney about suing the other attorney for unfair charges and unethical behavior. It's a good idea to look over the work they did and to have someone else in the field weigh in on whether those hours seem inaccurate.

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