What are considered to be excessive attorney fees?

I was facing threat of a sheriff’s sale/ foreclosure on 3/1/11, so I consulted with a bankruptcy attorney on 1/26/11 about filing. The initial consultation was free. I signed a consultation sheet that indicated the free consult and quoted the $3000 attorney fee for filingthe case. As discussed during the consultation, the sheet I signed also stated that I had to pay half of that fee to have the bankruptcy filed by 2/28/11. I paid the attorney about $1040 on 2/4/11. I also provided the attorney with pay stubs and a homeowners declaration policy copy. I didn’t provide the rest of the documents. I decided not file and requested a refund. I was charged 3.5 hours at $250 – 1.5 hours for the free consult and 2 hours for prep work. The consultation was supposed to have been free. 

Asked on March 24, 2011 under Business Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The amount that attorneys charge for providing services varies from place to place and the type of matter that requires you to be engaging anattorney in the first place.  What you call a consultation sheet here may be called a retainer depending on what it says.  Someone needs to read it on your behalf to let you know.  Did the sheet say anything about an hourly rate or just a flat fee for the bankruptcy?  If it just gave a flat rate then if you brought this before a judge he would state that the fees charged had to rasonable under the circumstances and would take in to consideration when you cancelled the work, was it in progress, etc.  I do think that the consultation would be free regardless.  Write the attorney a letter and ask for a detailed billing statement: what is "prep" work?  When you get it then you decide what you want to do and how you want to pursue it.  Good luck. 


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