Is an engagement fee refundable if a lawyer did not earn it?

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Is an engagement fee refundable if a lawyer did not earn it?

I pay a engagement fee to a Michigan lawyer of $2500 to retain him in case my friend had a case file against her for petty theft. They store never filed charges and the lawyer never had to do any work. The fee agreement state that the engagement fee is non-refundable but he did not do any work/earn it. Am I entitled to a refund? Basically I handed him $2500 just in case the store did filed a lawsuit against my friend and we would need to call him. That never happened and over a year have passed so the store cannot file a case now.

Asked on April 16, 2017 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You agreed to a non-refundable fee in accepting that fee agreement; you are held to it. If you did not want the lawyer to keep your fee for doing no work, you should have negotiated a different agreement or gone to a different attorney; however, by accepting these terms, you let him keep the fee no matter what.


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