MY lawyer took my money for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and never filed any paperwork. Doesn’t answer my phone calls.What should I do? I am in New York.

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MY lawyer took my money for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and never filed any paperwork. Doesn’t answer my phone calls.What should I do? I am in New York.

I hired a local Attorney to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I took the initial counciling and I qualified for Chapter 7.He took the money, and no paper work was ever filed. It’s been over 7 months.He doesn’t return my phone calls. I stopped by the office on several occasions and he’s never there.What can I do to get my money back and hire another Attornry. I am in New York City.

Asked on May 29, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, New York

Answers:

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I would first send him a certified letter demanding that he return the money you paid him or show proof that the matter has been filed. Give him a short period of time to respond, say 7 days.  This will at least limit his excuses that you never called him or followed up on his suggestions or did not give hime necessary information. If you receive no response, I suggest you find another attorney to take the case. That attorney in all likelihood will attempt to communicate with your prior attorney and may be more responsive to him or her. If that fails you should then contact the bar Association and file a complaint. But always have some proof that you attempted to reach him first or he will attempt to make excuses and blame you for the delay saying you did not respond or failed to provide necessary information.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Maybe your lawyer's got a good excuse--laying dead in a ditch somewhere, in a coma, kidnapped by aliens, etc. However, if that's not the case, then it sounds like at best he's committed gross malpractice by failing to communicate with his client or actually doing anything...and very possibly, he's stolen from you.

First thing you should do is call the New State Bar Association. The Bar takes lawyer bad bahavior seriously, and they can help you file a complaint against your attorney with the court system, which regulates attorney conduct. If getting the Bar and the court system involved doesn't get you satisfaction--or least an answer--FAST, you should contact the police and file a complaint against your lawyer; that's because if he doesn't respond to the organizations that regulate attorney behavior, it increases the odds he's acting in a criminal manner.

You may also need to get another attorney and sue your lawyer for malpractice. The Bar Association should have a laywer referal service; you could also try calling Legal Aid if you don't have the money to pay for an attorney.

Good luck.


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