I feel like my lawyer is overcharging me. How do I best handle this?


I really like my lawyer. She is excellent, and the law firm is well respected. That said, I feel like my lawyer is overcharging me for the work done? How do I best handle this? I don’t want to ruin our relationship.


Ethan Stone

Ethan Stone

by Ethan Stone, Stone Business Law

My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge. They deserve to be paid in full and on time!

That’s not very helpful, however.

So speaking as a lawyer (and not yours), I think the first thing you need to keep in mind is that if you like your lawyer and the service you’re getting, you don’t want to do anything that will make you a “problem client.” We try to give our best work to every client, of course, but we’re human and we’re under economic pressure to collect our bills. So if your lawyer starts thinking of you as a client who is constantly griping, haggling and delaying payment, that might unconsciously affect the relationship and possibly even the work in ways you should try to avoid.

So how do you deal with the problem without becoming a “problem client.” That depends to some extent on why you think the charge is too high. I’m assuming, since you say you like the lawyer, that you don’t think she’s padding her hours. And I’m also assuming you don’t have any kind of “flat fee” arrangements with her. So it probably boils down to a feeling that too many lawyers are spending too many hours to do work that should take less.

If that’s the nature of the problem, the best way to deal with it is to call the lawyer, tell her that your legal expenses have been running higher than your budget, and ask if you can talk to her about ways you might be able to streamline things. The point is not to accuse her of charging you too much or to get into a fight about hours already recorded. That will make her annoyed or defensive. Rather, try to get her thinking about ways to help you get things under control. She knows better than you do what’s going on and why, so she’s in a better position to come up with effective ways to control the hours. When you put your heads together, for example, you might find that the lawyers have been doing things for you that you could really do yourself, just to try and be helpful (or because you asked them to without thinking through how much it would cost).

Bear in mind that once your lawyer and her colleagues enter hours into the firm’s billing system, they show up as accounts receivable on the firm’s finances. So her partners will see it if you force her to write down lots of hours that have already been booked. At best, that will annoy her. At worst, it could be a serious internal problem for her. So if I were you, I would pay your most current bill in full right before you have the conversation about getting things under control (again, assuming you don’t think you were actually billed in error or for work that shouldn’t have been done at all). That will clearly signal that you’re looking for help in managing legal costs, not trying to get retroactive discounts on work already done.

I hope this helps. Legal work always costs more than you think it should (that’s how I feel when I’m the client, anyway), but there should be ways to keep it within acceptable limits.

Comments & Advice:
  1. DanaHShultz says:

    Assuming that fees are being charged hourly, there is a simple way to meet both parties’ expectations:

    At the beginning of a matter, ask the lawyer for an estimate of how many hours will be required. If she says that is not possible for a given matter, decide how many hours you are willing to commit, initially, to that matter.

    Either way, get the lawyer’s agreement that she is not authorized to exceed that number of hours without your consent. If she later finds that it will be necessary to exceed that number, she should get back to you ASAP to explain why this is the case so the two of you can agree on what should be done in response (increase the budget, stop working on the matter, reduce its scope, etc.)

    I disagree to the extent that the answer suggests that you should not challenge hours already billed. The client, not the attorney, determines the value of services delivered. The client has not written a blank check to the law firm. Being up-front with how you feel and perceive things now is in your, and in the attorney-client relationship’s, best interest.

  2. Jim Staples says:

    Thank you so much! That’s excellent advice. I will do exactly as you suggested. It’s always good to hear it from a lawyer’s perspective.

  3. Soody Soody says:

    I agree, at least in part, with all that is said. One critical thing to remember is that “overcharging” is a “state of mind” … let me elaborate … it depends on what you want, the value of that item to you, and how it is delivered. Often, because the work-product is a written document, people don’t put the same value to it as a gadget they can touch and feel.

    Now, with that said, there is always a difference between “cheap” and “inexpensive.” I learned that a long time ago from a jeweler :)

    As an attorney, I am often appalled at the way services are portrayed by attorneys and sometimes, to be honest, the “clients”perpetuate that behavior.

    Take provisional patent applications for example: you see ads all over the place: “provisional patents for $1,500-2,000″ – I recently gave a talk at a boot camp and reviewed someone’s provisional application which was prepared by a local firm and for which he paid $1600 and it was nothing but a copy of the photographs (mostly useless and did not show the invention) he had sent to the attorney. He could have filed that for less than $200. There was no value added in that filing … yet he was happy thinking that he had gotten a great deal!

    So remember that when you ask for a quote, it it all depends on what value you want to get out of what you want done. To me, you can buy anything cheap and never use it or buy it inexpensively (that is great value for what you pay) and use it as intended. Similar to constructing a home: you need a spec, schedule, material, etc., before you can get a proper quote. Do you want a “blue light special” or something that actually will last? (no disrespect to the company).

    So, as a client, you control a lot of what you will get from your attorney. Legal service is a “personal service” … try to hire for the person and not just the law firm … sometimes it matters to go with a big firm (and I’ve been in those and loved it and have great respect for them) and sometimes it’s the person you hire. As the founder of a small firm, I often have common clients with large firms and that works beautifully … each fulfill a role … as the client you need to do your due diligence to find out what combination and team works best for you.

    Decide where the value is coming to you: from the firm’s reputation and its brawn (and remember that with the big office and address comes an overhead so you need to be fair and aware of that) or the person doing the work.

    Choose your team carefully and always communicate … your attorney should be your partner in your success and like any other relationship, communications of expectations is of great importance. Be realistic in your expectations … as they say “you get what you pay for” … you should expect a great value for what you pay of course! But be ware of those who will give you a low bill but then you walk with nothing.

  4. ken says:

    nice to see how all the lawyesrs stick together. my case is being takin for all i have for no reason in a split of a comonlaw relationship, i,m a 64 yr. old pensioner , she a 50yr con. now 3 court cases, posponment twice( she refused to produce her paperwork) 3rd court day, she didn,t show up, case thrown out, less than 30 minutes in time total= 8,000. now she,s redoing it in queens bench, all the same demands redone 10,000 mre charges and we haven,t gone to court yet, and they get mad when i ask why, and told to go somewhere else if i don,t like it, i,m getting raped by my lawyer and despritly need help

  5. ken says:

    there has to be some place through the Bar that a lawyer can be made to accopunt for there dealings, something about tipping or taxation or some cluase lke that

  6. Harold says:

    I was involved in a VCAT case where the lawyer stated in response to a request for an estimate. The total figure will be $X,000 this includes appearance at the compulsory conference.

    At the compulsory conference, having paid 80% of the $X,000 to date, whilst we considered an offer of settlement of 9 times $X,000 he informed us that his work in progress was 1.8 – 2 times $X,000. The case settled.The lawyers agreed the settlement would be paid into our lawyers trust account by the lawyers for the other party.

    When the settlement was received we received a fee further fee which made the total fee of 3.5 times $X,000. They deducted the fee and dispersed the balance of fees from the trust account.

    The firm is a city law firm and stated, “that’s the fee”. Warning – never let a settlement be paid into the lawyers trust account.

    There was never any warning the fee would exceed the original estimate. We asked for a copy of the firm’s time records and these disclosed the major portion of the blow out occurred in the 2 months prior to the compulsory conference and yet, we were never told and the lawyer was aware of it.

  7. Andrew says:

    Are you kidding me. A lawyer is just like a plumber or any other service provider. However they have a great amount of power. Its a conflict of intrust that one who guides the case and the bill will not do so in the favor of the one who collects the money. I ve had a few attorneys. Attorneys have a legal one up on an average individual, I mean what if the attorney is dirty? What are you going to do sue em. Problem client really? That just go to show it is true. The legal system is a monopoly. Clients should pay a reasonable amount to their attorney for their work. Who’s to say if one attoney is lazy and the next is not how do rate that hour?

  8. mandy mojica says:

    When your lawyer receives 2/3rds of the settlement money and you as the client only receives 1/3rd. I think it’s highway robbery..what was the point of the suite, who did it teach a lesson to? Not the company that did them wrong, and certainly not the lawyer that robbed the elderly but my parent’s learned the lesson that the elderly have no place trusting lawyers cause they are as crooked as the people my parents were suing. But of course no lawyer will ever say he over charges…

  9. There are services out there that specialize in reviewing legal bills for overcharges. Check out Anastasia & Alexander for more information (website is reviewbilling.com).

  10. cheryl ammons says:

    The comment from the lawyer above, “Pay happily, and gladly”, makes me SICK. Lawyers soak you for every penny they can get because they know you are desparate. They don’t give a damn about you….only your money. The second you run out of money they dump you…but not before sticking you with extraneous charges that you MUST pay, or they will use all of their legal omnipotence to SUE YOU!!! Lawyers….especially “family law” practitioner’s have NO SOUL….And yes, they ALWAYS stick together. There is a special Hell for lawyers.

  11. Brad says:

    You sound like a shmuck – no offense. I’m a CPA who has done extensive work for and with attorneys. Take if from me: not all, but many lawyers and accountants size up the client and then see how far they can “push the envelope” with billing. They tend to do this with people who are naive and unsophisticated or people who seem to overly impressed with their “credentials”.

    Smarten up. There are over 1 million lawyers in the U.S. today. Let your current attorney know that you know this.

  12. Mafalda says:

    I think most of the Lawyers the bigest thief in the world, and the worse in tne USA.
    threat the client they will drop the case if the client askto many questions, or express the frustrationof been taking bentage by the lawyer.Is very little of Onesty in the Law pratise in the USA, so for me what you recomending to peoplesis to keep be part of a Corrupt Juducial Sistem.

  13. Bob says:

    What a pathetic reply. Thieves certainly stand together. My attorney is charging me up to 10X the amount he and his staff are investing in a billable event. For example, my phone record proves I spent less than 2 minutes on the phone while he simply told me to send a record. He billed me .25 hours (15 minutes-$112.50) for that call. That would make his effective hourly rate $3,375 when $450 is his advertised rate. A legal assistant in his office who “participated” in that call (even though she was not required and didn’t say a word) was billed for the same 15 minutes at $150/hour. He bills a minimum of .25 hours if he even sneezes in your direction. I have many other billing events like this that I am just now discovering. My X is going after a measly 20% more than our Decree orders, just because she wants more money. My attorney is over charging me up to 5-10 times the work he and his staff are producing. Who should I be more afraid of? Attorneys have a license steal, and no doubt, they do. The legal system is corrupt. Be aware and watch your wallet very closely.

  14. Ernie says:

    Some lawyers thrive/feast on the MISERIES and MISFORTUNES of others. An attorney first represents himself or herself, and then they represent their firm and lastly they will represent you as long as you can pay. I was named as a defendant in a case that never should have been filed. I was sued as trustee of a trust. The trust existed for 7 years and was due to expire in 6 months. I was accused of not filing professional accountings and stealing money from the trust. My accountings were informal in order to save the trust the annual accounting fees. I complied and had a CPA provide the accountings for all of the previous 7 years. There was no money missing. The lawyers kept the case alive for a year and a half after the trust expired by kicking the can back and forth. The plaintiffs attorney insisted on taking the case all the way to court even though he knew there was no grounds for the suit. In the beginning I asked my attorney how much this case would cost if it went all the way to court. He told me $20,000 to $25,000. When his costs exceeded that amount I questioned him. He told me that the $20 – $25,000 was only an estimate. When I told him to stop he kept biling telling me that he couldn’t stop because he had an obligation to the court. When I told him I didn’t have any more money he dropped me. He had billed over $42,000 and we hadn’t even gone to court yet. I went to court WITHOUT an attorney and the court found in my favor. Don’t believe the myth; “Never go to court without an attorney.” All trust monies were accounted for. The judge allowed the lawyers on both sides to collect their fees from the trust. My attorney was denied $6,000 in fees because the judge said his billing hours and billing rate was excessive for this case. The Judge would not allow me to collect $14,000 in out of pocket fees I paid my attorney with my own money. Nor would the judge allow me to collect a reason trustee fee allowed under the law. I had not taken a trustee fee for the 7 years I acted as trustee. I appealed and the judge denied my appeal. I question the character, integrity, values and honor of those lawyers involved as well as the judge. The judge, a former attorney took care of his kind and punished me … an honest man.
    Not all lawyers are bad. I had one attorney that knew of the case and provided me legal counsel without billing me …. he knew that my case lawyers were overcharging me. I had another lawyer write up my appeal and didn’t charge me because he also knew I was being taken. I have the greatest respect for both of these honorable gentlemen.

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  16. A. Nonymous says:

    Why do dishonest and untrustworthy people so frequently become lawyers? Is it because one must have no scruples to be a lawyer in the first place?

  17. gina says:

    Good advice from many. It’s unfortunate that the advice given is only after learning the hard way. For 5 months I was being overcharged by the legal assistant. I only discovered it after she was replaced by another legal assistant. Both LA charge the same hourly rate but previous LA charged twice as much time for same service. 12 minutes at $150/hr to copy and mail one sheet of paper?? There should be a price list given to clients to better understand how much time is charged for specific work done. Yes, I did think that was excessive but I just assumed that is what it costs. Until the new legal assistant only charged me 6 minutes at $150/hr to copy and mail one sheet of paper. Hate my lawyer. Hate my first legal assistant. Hate lawyers. they have no heart.

  18. Brenda says:

    I my case, I sat with an attorney before we started anything and discussed what an uncontested divorce with a quadro would cost. We agreed that it would be $500 for the divorce and between 275 and 300 for the quadro because it was a form that basically had fill in the blanks. Also I would pay the filing fees which would run around $200. Several times I asked my attorney if we where staying on budget and was told yes, things where easilier than expected. Now I have received my final bill and she wants $1675. She states she discounted the bill $300, but she had more time in researching the wording for the alimony part of the divorce…what do I do about this bill…I don’t feel it is fair to charge me more than what we agreed on.

  19. Jon says:

    I have lawyer friends and I had the pleasure of worked with lawyers. And I can tell you don’t want to hear what lawyers think about their clients! Now you lawyers here, you know what I am talking about. Anyway, lawyers that charge for their work and service should get paid but not for sitting in a courtroom for 3 hrs only to give me 10mins at the end. Especially when the lawyer has misadvised and misrepresented me and drags his feet instead of taking course of action. I am thinking that like lady lawyer here economy is bad and attorney are being more creative by purposely creating more work for themselves. And you can see the signs clearly when your lawyer specializes in an area but waits for you to figure it out instead and lets you talk up a storm etc.

  20. Misnomer says:

    My attorney is billing me for work he did after I ended service with him. Last September 24th, I notified my attorney that I no longer required his services and asked for an all-inclusive final bill. My attorney told me the next bill would be final, and I would receive that bill in the mail. October 16th I received a letter in the mail from my attorney thanking me for using his services. The first week of December (after cashing out my retirement funds) I asked my lawyer again what the final bill was and if there were additional fees because I was going to pay him on my lunch break. My attorney told me the amount, I paid them on lunch, and almost a month later I received another bill in the mail. My attorney is saying it is for services that happened on October 24th, a court date to file paperwork, and the reason it wasn’t included in the final bill amount was because his billing department was two months behind schedule.

    Am I required to pay this?

  21. SuckerPunched says:

    What a bunch of CRAP! “Problem client?” GIVE ME A BREAK! “My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge. They deserve to be paid in full and on time!” Could you be anymore arrogant and condescening? Could you be anymore transparent?

    When an attorney gives you an estimate of expenses, and he goes over by 100%, that is misrepresentation of services and fees! As someone else said, “There is a special place in hell for lawyers.”

  22. aw says:

    Great now I’m even more fearful of obtaining one.

  23. Every company that purchases legal services should have Legal Billing Guidelines that outlines how the company can be charged, and this suggestion applies even more so to companies that hire big law firms.

    Insurance companies are probably the biggest purchasers of legal services and they have been using Legal Billing Guidelines for years. Large companies also use Legal Billing Guidelines. They use them because they work.

    Investors, startups, and emerging companies should all implement and use Legal Billing Guidelines to help manage and control legal expenses. The law firms may balk, but they are already seeing this from the insurance carriers and their larger company clients.

    Don’t worry about offending them, the law firms desperately want to retain their clients and they know that the competition for your work is fierce.

  24. joe schmoe says:

    interesting discussion and even more interesting that most attorney’s posts recommend interaction in favor of attorneys.Some more sugar coated than others,however in my view still lean in favor of producing income for attorney’s than fairness and justice for a client.Courts only contribute to that by requiring the average citizen,and attorneys,to jump thru hoops to bring cases to be heard. My fiance was paralegal for a number of firms for many years and am familiar with billing practices. I loved the law courses i took in college and recognized that it could do so much to help the common man, however my experience from the inside is many attorney’s are more concerned with maintaining their lifestyles and inflating their egos than justice.Sure their are a few good ones but they seem harder and harder to find these days.When i see people getting billed $150 to forward an email,attorney’s charging for their mistakes,avoiding clients ‘cuz they don’t have it together, or prioritizing clients because they don’t have the same deep pockets, i begin to feel the term for justice should be changed to “just us”

  25. just joe says:

    I think its amazing that the lawyers all stick up for each other without even looking at facts, its doesn’t surprise me that we have such corrupt individuals on so many levels in this country. I was executor on my aunts will and was billed an enormous amount of money. This is a shame that a person who calls themselves professionals and are to have a code of conduct, will screw people over every chance they can and literally bleed you dry like leeches. Lawyers will bill you for work they do over due to their mistakes, bill you for every possible minute they can as long as they feel you have money to pay them, truly terrible, money hungry people. I hope through out my days I never have the need for such individuals.

  26. DB43 says:

    In many jurisdictions there is a method in place to “tax” a lawyer’s bill. The client submits to a taxation officer who then reviews the lawyer’s bill. It is a common occurrence that the bill is then reduced. That is the best method to proceed but you will likely not get that lawyer to do any work for you in the future.

    In regards to (not response to) Ethan Stone’s comments: Yes, lawyers charge a lot of money and yes running a law practice is expensive for the lawyer and accounts for some of that cost. And yes, lawyers still make piles of money, true. The real problem you face is that someone out there will be willing to pay your lawyer the amount of money he/she wants to be paid to do the same work you need. If you are not willing to pay the lawyer will just move on to someone who is so it’s a no win for you if you want an ongoing relationship.

    Remember, despite that people call them rats and much worse, lawyers are highly skilled professionals who are, unfortunately for most of us “have nots”, able to charge the “haves” who can afford to pay lawyers to get the job done right. When some one is paying a million dollars for a business they will pay a lawyer 50k to make sure it goes right.
    Just like anything else it is unreasonable for anyone to expect that a lawyer is going to do anything for anyone for less than they could get elsewhere.

    Related to other posters many personal injury matters, the plaintiff’s lawyer works on a contingency fee arrangement and receives a portion of the monies recovered. Contingency fee arrangements usually are 30% to 40% and they often increase the longer the matter goes on. For example, if the matter settles prior to questioning or deposition the lawyer may take 25% and this will go up to 35% the second questioning is completed. This arrangement is always agreed to beforehand, so don’t cry if you feel there isn’t enough settlement money coming your way after you agreed to the arrangement. Furthermore, getting a lawyer to work on contingency is about as close to getting someone to work for free as you can get because the lawyer is carrying the risk that he/she might not get anything if there is no victory. If you don’t like that arrangement then don’t go on contingency pay the hourly rate. If you can’t afford that and don’t want to use a contingency arrangement then you are actually expecting someone to work for free and that’s not reasonable.

    Regarding the comment about lawyer’s sticking together, while that might always not be true, it is certainly true with settlement proceeds, sale proceeds, etc. No lawyer will ever agree to have the settlement proceeds paid directly to the client because then they might not get paid. And, as a courtesy most lawyers will pay the settlement proceeds to the plaintiff’s lawyer in trust. That is a battle you will never win.

    Most jurisdictions require that the lawyer and client have an agreement as to fees and services in place at the beginning of the relationship. It’s just like any other business negotiation. You may want to sell your car and no matter how much you think it’s worth you gotta get the buyer to agree to pay that amount. At some point the buyer will have a limit as to what he wants to pay. lawyers are the same. they won’t work for free but given the chance they aren’t going to leave money on the table. Estimates and quotes, like in any other business, are bullshit, but even more so in the legal profession because there are so many variables that can affect the amount of work to be done.

    Really, the only way to be sure is to get the fee negotiated right up front for what you want done. If you are selling/buying a business, assets, shares, etc. agree to a percentage of the total cost you are comfortable with (not too much now :) If your lawyer won’t play ball on that then you need to find one who will.

    Otherwise you going to get stuck paying the piper way more than you want.

  27. There was a Snake and a Lawyer dead on the highway,,,the Snake had fifteen feet of skid marks in front of it,,,,the Lawyer had none,,,,,ok, you figure it out,,,

  28. Greg says:

    My son was arrested and charged with a crime. I called an attorney and had him go to the jail and meet with him (he was not there) he then went the court house where he told my son that he probably would not get a bond….he did after my son explained everything to the attorney and then to judge. I had told the attorney over the phone that I would hire him to help my son. He worked for him for 2hrs and did nothing, no arguing, every question asked was given to my son and relayed by the attorney to judge. For this he kept my $3500 retainer that I gave him and said that if he had not gotten my son a bond (for which he never asked the judge, the judge just said out loud that he would give bond. I feel that this lawyer grossly over charged me for this 10 mile drive and two hours of his time. Am I wrong here? I plan to meet with him and ask him for a partial refund (I said keep 2000 and give me back 1500 at a minimum) and he says he is keeping the 3500. I plan to go to the State Bar and ask for arbitration of the fees kept by this lawyer. After a few days out of jail I hired/retained a very experienced criminal lawyer instead of this lawyer who has had 5 of the cases that we are facing. He refuses to give me a dime back.

  29. Mike says:

    Layers exist for 1 reason, to profit from STUPIDITY. Think of every dollar that you spent for legal representation and the stupid factor involved. In this capitalist society, there is always someone to gain from ones unfortunate cirmcumstances no matter how tainted with stupidity they may be. Please be smart and eliminate stupid people from your circle.

  30. Mike says:

    Lawyers exist for 1 reason, to profit from STUPIDITY. Think of every dollar that you spent for legal representation and the stupid factor involved. In this capitalist society, there is always someone to gain from ones unfortunate cirmcumstances no matter how tainted with stupidity they may be. Please be smart and eliminate stupid people from your circle.

  31. David says:

    Most lawyers simply take advantage of any situation they can and abuse the legal system. They know you dont have the time or money to pursue them legally for over charging. It is a license to steal. They do the same thing contractors do when paid by the hour. Excessive add on fees and you have no choice but either pay or they sue you.
    It’s a complete rip off. get it in writing up front is all you can really do and they still figure out a way to rip you off.
    Good luck

  32. Scott says:


    ‘My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge. They deserve to be paid in full and on time!

    That’s not very helpful, however.’

    If you really want to provide good advice, why even make such a flippant comment such as this. It’s quite irresponsible and reflects badly on the profession. Your first inclination may be one to try and be ‘funny’, but it really isn’t. I wonder if you see the funny side of a comment such as this if you’ve been ripped off. Sure, a few bad lawyers don’t represent the norm, but seriously, take care of what you say.

    What really is the problem is time billing. Lawyers are in a unique position to bill to purely think and be intimidating enough never to be challenged, however soft and cuddly the bedside manner is. A lay client would never feel comfortable to raise a challenge against their lawyer as they are employing them in the first instance to be challenging to opponents. If problems occur, especially in billing, you’ll find a client has no more cash (and effort) to bring the lawyer to task…they’ve taken all of the cash, want to get paid and can easily hold the client to ransom without recourse. Don’t forget, most often, clients that need lawyers in most non transactional (ie ignore basic conveyancing for instance) are in a very vulnerable and stressed state of mind. One that can easily be taken advantage of by a firm whether intentional or not.

    The whole system is totally unfair and there is no incentive to stop bad practice on a low level. It isn’t the fault of most lawyers, it’s purely the situation that causes the issue.

    ‘ Legal work always costs more than you think it should… ‘

    Seriously my friend, you are a joke.

    Be mindful about how you charge and sleep well.

  33. Bobbie says:

    I had a couple of employmentlaw cases that I processed myself. The agency offer to settle. I hired a lawyer to represent me at mediation. He had me visit his office twice a week for threr or four weeks for a couple of hours and then one day a week for two weeks or so. During this time I was bringing him up to speed. I felt he was going over the same information over and over. At times he sat and I would be working putting documents in folders, which I bought;he would be sitting there talking about the same things that I had told him over and over.

    I bought supplies: folders, clips, paper clips, ink cartridges, file boxes, and made copies. I think he provided six folders. I continued to work on my cases as though I was representing myself still. I was doing paralegal work; reasearching, puting together evidence, reading documents for conflicting statements, I basically hand him cases that were already processed. The were in order to the point I had my documents in binders with dividers telling what they were. I had worked on my cases for almost four years by my self. This lawyer diffinitely padded his bill-I’m sure of it.

    The agency told him at mediation that his bills were excessive. The agency attorneys told him it should not have taken more than forty hours to review the cases and I agree. From mid September to November he wants nearly $40,000.00 dollar, which is radiculous. I worked my butt of on my cases and never stopped even after I hired him. He would tell me I need this information or that information, or I need you come in and put the files together. I would have to research information for him. I have five years education in legal studies with an emphasis in employment law. I know how long it takes me to perform certain task. I know he is padding his bill for many task he claimed he performed. He charged more than three hours at 350.00 hour to complete his fee statement. I asked him about it and he told me they allow him time to put together his fee statement. Who is they that would allow him over 1000.00 to put together a bill. And, if he waits for two months to type the bill up, how am I to believe it; accurate? The time it took to write the information on paper is time he could have take to type his statements in form on the computer eliminating duplication of task.

    During the mediation he brought up his bill two or three times. Whenever he is discussing anything to do with the cases his bill comes up immediately. I have worked for lawyers in the past and have never seen one that watse time like this once. I do a pretty darn good job of putting together a case, at least my agency and the EEOC thinks so. I know how long it took me to write a brief or assemble a binder or respond to any e-mail.

    I’m not sure if the lawyer is banking on the agency footing the bill or if he is thinking they will negotiate a partial payment and I pay the balance. I do know that I will go to the bar association to request a mediation over the fees if I am asked to pay.

    His bill is unbelievable. I think a lot of it is clerical that he would have me do while he sat and watched or he would put a couple of documents in a file and then 3 hrs later ask me a question and talk about his fees. He deserves to be paid for approximately forty hours or $12,000.00 to $15,000.00 tops. He went to mediation for about three hours and didn’t do that great a job. He didn’t do anything we had discussed, he was fumbling through a folder for documents, he made an issue of my education, which was never in question, and never put any of the damaging information out there that would have raised the stakes. I’m not one for putting everything on the table at once, but I beleive in giving a little of the unknown to the other side to garner a response that I can use. He was not that effective. I hope he doesn’t try to sell me out to the agency because I am poised to request a mediation before the bar association regarding his fees. The agency is in agreement that he padded his bill. I know he did.

    The same thing happened to me years ago. I hired a lawyer to go to mediation. The mediation broke down, I walked out. The case went before a judge. The attorney submitted a bill for $29,000.00 and had done hardly anything. It was apparent that I had processed my own cases so the judge didn’t entertain the inflated bill. My lawyer got nothing.

  34. Dear Sirs,
    I have recently won a social security diability May 25, 2013. My lawyers were Binder & Binder and as per the fee agreement, they were payed $6000.00 for their fees (either 25% or $6000.00) or the lesser of the two. For the second time sense my award, they sent a seven point appeal for an $6000.00 increase over an above the agreed upon fee of $6000.00. A copy of the letter was sent to me December 16, 2013. It was addresses to the Honorable William J. King, Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, Regional Office. Because of the upcoming holidays I was not successful in finding an attorney in what I consider a timely way. I strongly believe that the firm is trying to make a case of my case for several reasons, e.g. point number five is that due to their legal sagacity they were able to successfully win my award money to be $49,010.88.
    In their third point, as I was unable to attend the first hearing due to being unable to be reached by phone or address as I was homeless and hospitalized on October 20, 2010. As such, the administrative judge ruled against a favorable decision. In short, I did not know of my court case whatsover, therefore they are claiming that due to their persistance they were able to have the court overturn my unfavorable decision and have the hearing rescheduled. It seems to me that without my presence and under the circumstances, any decent judge would allow me an opportunity to present my case with me in attendance. Binder & Binder claim to have continued to work assiduously on my case in the interim and due to their hard work allowed for my second administrative hearing. In that period, I did not hear a thing from the attorneys until about six months prior to the next hearing on April 25, 2013. In that period, I was requested to gather all of my medical service records for my ten years of honorable service in the Navy and mail them to the attorneys in Orange, Ca. I was also instructed to speak with all of my physicians concerning my social security case in an effort to get a favorable reply when asked. At this juncture, I understand that B & B already have tried to have their fee increased but were turned down. Now, it seems that they have to resort to hyperbole in appealing to Judge King as to the time and great effort on their behalf to win my decision. I am not arguing what they may or may not have done to win my case but I only know that I thought this was settled months ago when I received my Notice of Award. I don’t know where all of that $49000.00 went as I never received a check for that amount. However, I seem to recall that over a period of months I probably received somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000.00? In any event, isn’t the law applicable as stated in the Notice of Award that the fee can not be increased other than for minor things such as mailings, procuring documents and such. All regardless of the size of the award?! Any help or assistance in this case would be deeply appreciated!
    Michael Bartley

  35. Angelou says:

    I would not ask for help in this forum, it sounds like it was put together by lawyers and its just a little propaganda machine or conditioning machine to make the public think that what they do is the norm.

  36. max says:

    I find that lawyers are an evil necessity sometime. I have just received a bill for services, e.g. phone calls, meetings, emails etc., and I am curious as to what the term “But Say”: means on the invoice.

  37. Atom_9 says:

    Attorneys get paid if they win the case or lose the case so to them there is no rush even when they know their client should settle they want to make as many billable hours as possible redo the Motions to dismiss, redo the Summary Judgment redo and file unnecessary motions. Example the Attorney knew his client should of settled for 20k in the early stages yet he had his client spend 120k before settling for the 20k. The reason for this is because if he settled early on they would have not made the billable hours. If you asked an attorney where the bathroom is in the court house they would give you an answer but say it is legal advise and charge you for a billable hour for telling you where the bathroom is.

  38. Atom_9 says:

    Take in consideration that no attorney will ever agree that they were paid enough for any task. If they billed their client for 30 hours for 24 hours worth of work the attorney would argue that they should of charged 40 hours for 24 hours and did a favor to their clients. This is the view that Attorney’s have all of them.

  39. matt says:

    Lawyers are Snakes. Do not trust them.. Give them a set amount of hours and do not let them go over the set amount. Try not to give a retainer as they will false bill you for all that is in the retainer.. Best advice Try not to every hire a lawyer they are snakes.

  40. Kurt Eduard says:

    Lawyers has become a legalized criminal brotherhood and are pests for the modern society, see all the commercials at the roadside to help you squeeze someone else for money, you case win a million you get 50,000.- the lawyer get the rest…they are modern criminals abusing all and everything in their greedy business driving up cost for all kind of public services such as insurance, healthcare service, employer’s worker cost, carmakers, small business owners, taxi drivers….etc..etc yes..I am sure the is a very special and extremely hot place for lawyers in hell.

  41. Mia says:

    Being a lawyer for many seems to me like having found a legal way to rob people. What is it they do that really usually warrants the often over $300 per hour I see regularly charged? They read an email consisting of a few lines and its a rounded off charge of $50. Neat trick, I’d like to bill people for having to read work related email too. Other than going elsewhere the clients have little recourse because how can you argue what they did is not worth the exorbitant money they charge or prove it. People are stuck because the legal system is complicated and the attorney is trained how it works and which forms are required. The huge fees often billed though are rarely commensurate with the actual work required especially if it were done efficiently. I advise to try to get a flat quote or fee upfront but there are pitfalls to that approach as well. Hourly rate without constraint will often be like handing a crack addict a blank check. Also make sure when you pay at the end you specify that concludes the fees. I was getting bills for a few hundred here and there for loose end things they forgot to do or having to read some correspondence that came in related to settling an estate years later.

    “My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge. They deserve to be paid in full and on time!” -Says the lawyer!

  42. hoque says:

    yes, i do agree, the most hated profession in the world, 95% deserves to go hell.

  43. NDS says:

    I am not surprised that the first thing Mr. Stone assumes is that the person’s lawyer asking for advise is a “she”. We own several businesses and not one lawyer that we have ever used have made us feel they were worth all the money we’ve paid, this includes estate/trust attorneys. We have a trust attorney who charges us for work that we didn’t even authorize. We receive a bill in the mail for $2500 because they were accidentally contacted by our bank because we are trying to short sale our home. They were the wrong attorney, our bank should of contacted our BK attorney, but this trust attorney claimed they researched the issue which they agree was not their issue but bill us anyway for trying to determine what issue it was! Ha!

    Mr Stone, your advise, “My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge” is a very big red flag!

  44. NDS says:

    We own several businesses and not one lawyer that we have ever used have made us feel they were worth all the money we’ve paid, this includes estate/trust attorneys. We have a trust attorney who charges us for work that we didn’t even authorize. We receive a bill in the mail for $2500 because they were accidentally contacted by our bank because we are trying to short sale our home. They were the wrong attorney, our bank should of contacted our BK attorney, but this trust attorney claimed they researched the issue which they agree was not their issue but bill us anyway for trying to determine what issue it was! Ha!

    Mr Stone, your advise, “My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge” is a very big red flag!

  45. Moti says:

    I want to know if you can give me advice. My lawyer agree with
    Fees of $10.000 and $500 per hours , but he send me bills to
    For $38.000- , and I know he overcharge me for the work and
    I want to fight in court and pay is bill !!
    So how do I go about removing him and also do gavrament
    Complain about him !! I am ready to fight in court and I will try
    Not to pay this bill !!

  46. Juanita says:

    Social Security has laws in place to protect a client regarding overpayment. How does this work with Long Term Disability?

  47. Corey says:

    I am amazed with most lawyer tactics. However I feel that my current attorney is legit. Without getting into to many details, I tried to go the small claims route that had a $10,000 limit in my state and jurisdiction. The defendant in this case hired an attorney who immediately requested a pre-trial conference. At the pretrial conference, the judge dismissed the case on the grounds that my particular law suit is not in the small claims jurisdiction. Not to be outdone, I retained an attorney in the proper District court who has taken my case on an hourly basis and a retainer fee up front which is common place for my particular case. The amounit of damages being sought is in the 6 figures range. I could not be more pleased. The only wish I would have at this juncture in my case is that my lawyears supporting staff (paralegal and/or legal secretary had the same intensity that my lawyer has displayed.I’m not saying that I disagree with the majority of comments in this forum, I am just praying that I have found a good lawyer which seems to be 10% of the time.

  48. Filtch says:

    I am with SuckerPunched says:
    January 14, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    What a bunch of CRAP! “Problem client?” GIVE ME A BREAK! “My first inclination is to tell you to pay happily. Lawyers are worth every penny they charge. They deserve to be paid in full and on time!” Could you be anymore arrogant and condescening? Could you be anymore transparent? Now I go to Ken who is a pensioner like my self. There has to be some one who will look at the charges, I cornered my solicitor when he presented me with 2 bills recently when I went to collect a cheque from him for a small claim, these which he said was owed for case 8-10 years ago. Not only could he not provide me with details of what he was billing me for, but he refused to give me a copy of his supposed bills when I threatened to go to another solicitor. The argument got to shouting where upon I told him to hang on to the cheque and informed him that I would go through another solicitor. On this note he started to back track and to my amazement he with drew the aged bills telling me that it wasnt fair to charge me for them as they were old cases. I then asked hold old does a case have to be before he was legally allowed to charge me, he then said 6 years. In my mind he degraded himself by doing this, he then quickly got his secetary to allot me a new cheque, after telling me that this couldnt be done. Sad greedy person in my mind. They do have lawyer tactics people, so stand up for your self, fk the friendship bit, after all is said and done, you are giving them work, they should be grateful on all accounts, keep all this be nice stuff for the man that employs you, and remimer that those who you employ should be as gratefull as you are to your employer. In general after 50 years of using solicitors, they want money, they have learned the skill of extracting it from you, you must make them earn it,question every penny and dont feel in the least bad about it, become a what this man Ethan Stone suggests that you dont become, a constantly griping, haggling and delaying payment client, its your God given right.

  49. Peter says:

    ell here is my experience with my patent lawyer.

    I work in the construction for over 30 years specializing in one trade, at some point I came up with an idea of a unique hand tool, so I found this lawyer and we did the patent search; and the search results showed it was a patentable/good idea.

    So then we got down to business with the lawyer, and first thing I asked (like any normal person would do) was how much this patent proses will cost?! so here is what he said and what happened: he asked for 3.000 dollars to file the provisional application (but he charged me 8.000 )…. he then asked for 7.000 to file the non provisional (he charged me 20.000)… he asked for 20.000 thousand to file for the European (he charged me 50.000 thousand dollars!!!) he was charging me MORE than twice the amounts we had disused!!!…but you see this was never on email!

    For 4 years (which was the patent’s processing period) I was receiving bills from this lawyer every 2-3 months with various amounts and with the same description every time: (for services rendered) nothing else!

    I was billed 78.000 dollars within 4 years, but he received from me 65.000, because at that point my mind just FLIPPED! and I said F**K patents I’m done!!! so I filed bankruptcy to get him of my back! (it was not just him causing me to file bankruptcy though there was also a house I bought to fix and sell but the market crashed as I was fixing it and the home’s value went down from 400k to 240k so it had to go)

    But the whole patent proses with this lawyer was one of my worst nightmares! I almost got divorced with my wife, I took away from my family everything those 4 years in order to keep up with those unexpected mad bills!! when I complained to him about the bills and that we where up to 65.000 his answer was (Ohhh! really? we are that much?) if I had a gun in my hands he’d be dead today.

    God felt sorry for me at that time and the patent was granted by the uspto! and at least I was happy that I had my patent!… so I decided to give this hairless creep “gangster” the benefit of the doubt, and so I spoke with him and told him that I would take care of this last bill (of 13.000 dollars!) at a later time when I get back on my feet (big mistake, those last minute charges are part of their tactic for someone who’s gone a long way with a patent they do that at the end thinking you will cough up money if you want your patent!)

    So I went to develop this tool with a fried of mine who was older and knew a lot around products etc. but there was an unexpected discovery, one of the materials that we needed to make this tool was very expensive! each peace cost 48.00 dollars and this price was if one would order thousands of peaces in China! so I went back to the drawing board to redesign the tool to avoid using that part, and I did it! I replaced that part by changing the design with something that cost less than one dollar. but now I need patenting again! the design changed!

    So I go back to rum-nuts and ask him if he wants to file the provisional for this, this time he was more down to earth with the prices and I was flat fee ONLY agreement, he asked for 900 dollars to file the provisional (by the way this is the same tool with just a swamp of that one part and a small design change; but according to him it is a new patent)..

    So the provisional is filed and I am thinking that I am all good now, I will start making/selling this tool soon and with the funds everything will be ok; and when the time comes to file the non provisional I’ll be all set financially. well! there is an old saying that says: (when people make plans for the future life laughs at them)

    Talking about bad luck, my friend and partner who was planning on investing some money on the project, he was unexpectedly transferred from his company to go work in another state, and his salary was cut down 50% (this was due to the economy’s crash) he went down from making 120k a year to 58k! so he couldn’t stand those changes and decided to leave the country!

    I was left by my self, loooong story short, a year later I had to file the non provisional and he asked me for 6.500 dollars, I payed it. again I thought by the time the examiners will start with their BS I would be ok, but that is now and I am not ok, 2 years have gone by and boy have I had bad luck, a year and half ago my mother who was fine with no health issues; suddenly was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 63, so I was fighting my mothers cancer which at the end we lost, work got slower not as it used to, processing the tool’s development is not the easiest thing for me.

    And now the patent has come to the end, and there is an office action required by the examiner, and the lawyer says to me he wants 3.000 to respond to the office action (and this is after asking him numerous times HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST…because he tried to do what he did to me the first time by writing to me: Dear Peter let us know if you would like us to prepare a respond… without saying to me how much this respond will cost…the first time I was an idiot and I would say yes go ahead and respond…. and then the bills would be coming in like heavy rain fall)

    So now he wants 3.000 to respond AND money from those past wicked charges (meaning from the 13.000 from the first patent) so he is basically using his tactic again now, it is the end and he is thinking I have no choice but to cough up the money. if this isn’t pure gangster tactic I don’t know what is.

    This person has received from me all together (with out the 13.000 included) close to 75.000 so far for patenting a little hand tool, and I have gone through hell the way everything went, I am so disgusted at this point with patent lawyers I will never give them another dime. I am ready to abandon this second patent, I am so disgusted with him that even if it was for nickle I will still abandon the patent, I don’t want these people to ever get another penny from me.

    And if I ever decide to file for patent ever again it will be abroad, I have lived in another country for 17 years (I am 47) and I have done business with lawyers and I’ll tell you there is nothing to compare, lawyers in other countries are normal kind and very respectful people, they don’t charge arms and legs, not like here where they think they are some special class above others, and we ow them the world for their work.

    Next lawyer that I will do business (IF) here in the US will bump in to a big concrete wall, anything I haven’t agreed to pay in writing? (he will get out of the three the longest)

    Also if any lawyer asks me for any work on his house the price will be 3-4 times higher than normal (take it or leave it) and I will start advising all coworkers to start pricing same to lawyers. most of them are all already pist with lawyers each one with their own story, there is even a joke going around that says: (what do you call 10 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?) Answer: (A good start!)This joke shows how people are fed-up with lawyers BS. sad…..

    Thank you.

  50. Hate Lawyers says:

    ETHAN STONE your answer is OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!
    Lawyers should not be treated any differently than a handyman. Any cheat or one who overcharges should be called on it. Let’s face it. Most lawyers are awful at their job, not worth even a fraction of what they charge and many if not most overcharge intentionally. Since we cannot outlaw lawyers anytime soon (in early days they WERE outlawed), they should be be fired if they don’t lower their bill when warranted. It’s like any other business, supply and demand. There’s too many lawyers, so try to find a fair one – though most of us know that’s like finding a diamond at the beach.

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