So discouraged with my attny - don't know what to do!

My attorney charged me $10k for a “set fee” to cover my ENTIRE divorce (bed & board, custody, child support & ED). We are in the middle of a LONG ED mediation which keeps being put off longer & longer. I was told by my attny that if we have to go to court, then he would have to charge me EXTRA for that (but when I asked him how much, he said he would have to THINK ABOUT it)!! He also turned me over to the Dept of Social Services to handle my child support - and that was included in his “set” fee also.

All he’s done for me thus far is to go to court for custody (1 day) and attend several ED mediation sessions with me (and talked to me a few times in his office). He thinks he UNDERCHARGED me for what all he’s done…and what is YET to be done.

I made an appt with another attorney yesterday about another issue and mentioned my ED dilemma (he’s a family friend). He basically told me I was being ripped off and to contact the State Bar. And he said that ED covers ALL property issues…including going to court if needed. He also said I could fire my attorney and ask for my money back - the part that hasn’t been spent yet. However I know I won’t get any money back since he’s already told me he WAY undercharged me.

I am afraid to contact the State Bar at this point in fear of my attorney either dropping me or retaliating against me (not try to “win” my case). Could the State bar make him give me some of my money back? I also thought about asking for an itemized statement showing how all my money was allocated, but figured that would make my attorney mad (questioning his integrity). I feel that I’m not being fairly represented (have had lots of conflict of interests which my attorney did nothing about – my STBX’s paralegal was previously my paralegal and she has exchanged tons of confidential info to my Ex), I need a new attorney but unless I get some of my money back, I cannot do so.

Erin, do you have any advice/suggestions for me?? I am struggling with 3 kids, trying to save our home & pay ALL the bills while receiving ZERO support from STBX, and I’m at my wits end! Don’t know where to turn or what to do. I am constantly in tears and it’s taking a toll on my health.

Thanks for any info you can provide.

I cannot speak to the reasonable or unreasonable nature of the fee charged, however I would suggest you contact the state bar regarding your concerns.

The state bar will look into your case, and may require a portion of the fee to be returned if a refund is deemed to be reasonable.

I would also suggest hire another attorney in the meantime. You should not have to go through this important process with an attorney you do not trust.