If my lawyer wants payment but won’t provide a bill or anything other information on what he is owed for, what are my rights?

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2012

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If my lawyer wants payment but won’t provide a bill or anything other information on what he is owed for, what are my rights?

I was arrested on felony drug charges 1 1/2 years ago. My father paid the lawyer an initial fee but further payment terms or a contract were never discussed. The case was finally resolved last week and my lawyer wants a final payment of $10,000. My father wants an itemized bill but the lawyer is refusing to do that. He claims criminal defense attorneys don’t do that and just wants us to give him $10,000. Is there anything I can do to get my lawyer to be more honest about what he has done?

Asked on January 12, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Under the rules of professional ethics for lawyers, unless the written fee agreement states that services to be rendered by an attorney are on a flat rate, the attorney is required to present his or her client with an itemized bill as a condition for payment.

Even when I do flat rate work for a client, I do billing entries as a matter of course. I would write the lawyer asking for an itemized bill for services rendered to be presented you within 5 days or so. Keep a copy of the letter for future need and reference.

If you do not get the requested itemized billing in the requested time frame, I would contact you the bar association of your state and make a complaint about this attorney demanding a $10,000 payment without providing you with the requested itemized bill.


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