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  1. #1

    Angry Deadbeat Lawyer...

    We have a lawyer that will not call me back. He is paid in full, but has not lived up to his contractual agreement. My husband ran into him at his office in june while delivering a check. At that time he hadn't called me back for over a month. He told my husband we would be getting a letter for our case soon. We got a letter in August but not from our lawyer (from DHS). I mailed the info to DHS, made copies and delivered them to the lawyer in August with his check. He cashed the check but never called me back. I went up to his office and caught him in September. He looked confused when I asked hi why DHS had contacted me instead of him and he said he never saw the DHS letter....but I assured him it was in the package I left. He said he would call me that night or the next day. He That has been 4 weeks ago and he still will not call me back. I call at least every week and sometimes twice.

    I have used him before about 3 years ago and this time we started with him in March.

    So what do you do when a lawyer won't call you back and it doesnt seem like he has done anything for us.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Certified letter? Bar complaint? Ouch! I hate to even go there...

  3. #3

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Taking money and then ignoring calls and failing to diligently prosecute the case is pretty inexcusable.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    I have been considering a complaint to the bar. However, I wasn't sure how that works. I would really like to not lose all the money we paid. Today I left a message telling him if he didn't want to work on our case maybe he could issue me a refund. I don't expect him to do that, but I thought I might get a call back from it.

  5. Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Attorney Complaints | General Counsel | Oklahoma Bar Association

    The Oklahoma Bar Association investigates allegations of unethical conduct against lawyers practicing in Oklahoma. If you believe your attorney has acted improperly, you may file a complaint with the OBA's Office of the General Counsel. The primary purpose of the lawyer discipline system is to protect the public.

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court gives the Oklahoma Bar Association the authority to investigate complaints against lawyers. Funding for lawyer discipline comes from annual dues paid by all state bar members, not by tax dollars.

    Lawyers who are found guilty of serious misconduct, such as theft of client funds, may be suspended or disbarred from practicing law. Other types of misconduct, such as not communicating with clients or failing to diligently pursue a case, may result in a censure or reprimand.

    The Office of the General Counsel cannot investigate complaints of malpractice, decide legal questions or give legal advice. Usually the state bar has no jurisdiction over issues pending in court or situations occurring in a lawyer's personal life, such as disagreements with neighbors, creditors or spouses.

    Any complaints against judges are handled by the Council on Judicial Complaints. To obtain a required form, contact the council at 1901 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4999, (405) 522-4800. Complaints about attorneys are not handled by the Council on Judicial Complaints. Those concerns should be directed to the OBA as set out below.

    As a client, you have a right to expect competent representation from your attorney. If you are dissatisfied, you may fire the attorney. However, not every reason to terminate your attorney's services is grounds for disciplining the attorney. Lawyers are people who sometimes make mistakes that upset clients but the errors may not be grounds for discipline. Many complaints are filed against lawyers who represent other people, such as one spouse who files a complaint against the lawyer of the other spouse. Before filing a complaint against your opponent's attorney, remember that it is the attorney's job to zealously represent his or her client. You may not like what the lawyer does, especially if it makes you look bad, but that does not necessarily make the conduct unethical.

    Examples of complaints the state bar does have authority to investigate are:

    a lawyer holding money on your behalf will not return the money or provide you with a written accounting of how it was spent
    a lawyer consistently does not respond to questions about your case, to inform you about court dates or to appear in court3
    a lawyer doesn't tell the truth or asks you or another person to lie as part of the case
    a lawyer fails to follow through with what was promised or does not perform the action in a timely manner
    If you think your attorney's bill is too high, call the attorney and discuss it. Most lawyers maintain detailed records of time spent and expenses associated with each case and can itemize or explain any charges you may question. Disputes about legal fees are not usually investigated by the Office of the General Counsel. Written fee arrangements are always encouraged. For more information check out the state bar's Lawyers and Legal Fees brochure.

    By law any complaint you make against an attorney must be in writing and must be signed. We also require that all complaints be an original document mailed or delivered to our office. Faxed or e-mailed complaints cannot be accepted. You will need to describe in full detail the nature of your complaint. Be sure to include dates, state what you employed the lawyer to do and what the attorney did or did not do. Include copies (not originals) of any documents you may have, such as a fee agreement, court papers, letter or notes that you think will help the Office of the General Counsel to understand the complaint. A form is not required, but if you would like to request one, contact Office of the General Counsel, Oklahoma Bar Association, P.O. Box 53036, Oklahoma City, OK 73152-3036, (405) 416-7007, or you may print the form, fill it out and mail it in.

    Once a Complaint is Received

    From the written information and documents you submit, the Office of the General Counsel will review the information and may decide to:

    open an investigation
    ask you to provide more information
    notify you that the office can take no action
    Because of the large number of complaints received, it may take the state bar a few weeks to contact you once it's received. If an investigation is opened, you will be notified in writing and when necessary will be contacted by an investigator or attorney. A copy of your complaint will be sent to the attorney, who will be asked to respond in writing.

    Even if an investigation is not opened, you will still be notified. A copy of your complaint will be forwarded to the attorney for his or her information.

    If an investigation is conducted and the state bar decides there is probable cause to think the attorney violated ethics rules and there is clear and convincing evidence to show the violation, formal disciplinary action may be initiated. All state bar investigations are confidential. A hearing may be held, and you may be required to appear as a witness.

    Protect Your Rights

    The Office of the General Counsel cannot provide legal advice nor represent you in any pending litigation; therefore, you must protect your own legal interests. Don't postpone researching other possible remedies you may have against the lawyer because you have filed a complaint. Valuable legal rights could be lost if you wait for the state bar to finish its investigation. To find out if you have other remedies against the lawyer, talk to another attorney. If the lawyer has committed a crime, you should report that conduct to appropriate prosecuting authorities.

    For more detailed information about the disciplinary process, see What the General Counsel Does.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    This sounds like an attorney I used to (unfortunately) work for. He was great with clients in their initial meeting, but we never started working on their case until they repeatedly called to check on things, which was usually 2-3 months later.

    Granted, these were usually Medicaid planning and Estate Planning/Administration clients who weren't under strict timelines, but it's still a lousy way to do business.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    I don't think he has anyone working for him. If I were to guess, he probably hasn't done anything with our case at all. He probably cannot find the information I dropped at his office. His office is the worst mess I have ever seen. It doesn't appear that he files anything. He has paperwork on the floor and the guest chairs. The outer office has a little pathway to the inner office, lined with stacks of paper.

    I still haven't heard from him even though I called twice last week. I do not like confrontation very much. I left messages last week telling him he should provide a refund if he didn't want to handle our case, and one message saying I was concerned he hasn't done anything.

    This week I will leave him a message telling him he has left me no choice but to file a complaint to the bar, and then I will be doing that. It really is a shame because we need the extra money this case would give us. The whole process is only supposed to take 6 mos max. It should have been over since we started in March.

    Live and learn I guess.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    The mess should have been a hint not to do business with him. Anyhow, I'd threaten a bar complaint and see if he doesn't get on the ball. Attorney's hate being threatened with bar complaints.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Actually - I thought the mess was part and parcel of being a working attorney...

    Good luck. I hope you've kept track of the attempts you've made to contact him, etc.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Quote Originally Posted by metro View Post
    ... Attorney's hate being threatened with bar complaints.
    Only those who would have reason to fear talking to the general counsel's office.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    As far as I know, I've never had a bar complaint but the very thought of it makes me break into a cold sweat. I would be horrified, embarassed, mortified, etc.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    They should published bar complaints.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Yeah, I'll bet our legislature will jump right on that one, don't you, GM?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Quote Originally Posted by gmwise View Post
    They should published bar complaints.
    If someone is disbarred or suspended or receives a public reprimand, I believe it makes the news, if only in print in his or her practice area. TWG, aka tongue wag network, spreads the word as well.

    Also, there are times a private reprimand handed down for a minor matter won't always remain private.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    > As far as I know, I've never had a bar complaint

    That pretty much tells me you haven't. Even if it is 100% bogus bit of nonsense, I'm betting you'd remember if you got a letter from the general counsel's office. For most, an arrival of a letter from that office is such an oddity, there is just no way it would not stand out in your mind.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    I knew someone who had a bar complaint that resulted in a private admonishment and short term suspension of his license. He had been neglecting a client. Or maybe more than one client, I don't know. He had to write a letter to each and every one of his clients and their attorneys explaining that he could not appear due to the discipline. A very nice man and I was so embarassed for him. He also did a lot of guardian ad litem work like I do and is very good at it. In the past year, however, he has seemed less engaged and I've had a number of clients in common complain that he won't call them back. I don't know what is going on with him - substance abuse or mental illness. I just know it is not a lack of caring because he is a fine, consciencious man, most of the time. I suspect that happens more often than we think.

    I certainly wouldn't forget a bar complaint. I'd have nightmares. Or flashbacks. I just didn't know if sometimes when someone complains they throw it out if they think the person is a nut or isn't stating a valid complaint.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    You know just like the medical related field, professionals had experience either depression, substance abuse.
    I really hope the lawyer in mind PQ, gets help, its not a fun prospect in dealing or worst not dealing with it.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    My husband called DHS and found out our lawyer has never contacted them. They didn't know we had a lawyer.

    I assume I will have to write off all of the money I have given him this far. He still has not called me back or made contact.

    An answer about his mess: We had used him before and he did ok (there were a couple of things he misplaced), he was messy then too. I just thought it would be easier to use the same lawyer this time since we already knew him and he knew us. I didn't expect this outcome.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Wow.

    You need to make that Bar complaint ASAP.

  20. Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Quote Originally Posted by metro View Post
    The mess should have been a hint not to do business with him.

    My boss's office is a mess. He's one of the very best oil and gas lawyers in the state. Just sayin'. Now, our entire OFFICE isn't cluttered like that though...

  21. #21

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Update:

    I sent our lawyer a letter telling him I was requesting a refund. In this letter I outlined my issues, my attempts to contact him and how he did not live up to our contract. I told him I was giving him notice to contact us or I was filing a grievance. I sent this letter certified but he never picked it up and it came back to me.

    I did file a grievance with the bar. I sent the letter I had sent to our lawyer and the proof he never picked up my letter. We received a refund money order this weekend for the amount we paid him. I assume the bar association made him do it. It would have been nice to have an apology, but having my money back is excellent.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zoedith View Post
    Update:

    I sent our lawyer a letter telling him I was requesting a refund. In this letter I outlined my issues, my attempts to contact him and how he did not live up to our contract. I told him I was giving him notice to contact us or I was filing a grievance. I sent this letter certified but he never picked it up and it came back to me.

    I did file a grievance with the bar. I sent the letter I had sent to our lawyer and the proof he never picked up my letter. We received a refund money order this weekend for the amount we paid him. I assume the bar association made him do it. It would have been nice to have an apology, but having my money back is excellent.
    On the up side, your funds were refunded. On the down side, you're pretty much where you were before you paid the funds unless you engaged someone else to represent you in the interim.

    Good luck as you move forward on your matter if it is still open.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Deadbeat Lawyer...

    Glad to hear your issues with this individual have been resolved. Sorry you had to go through that. What you experienced is definitely more the exception than the rule. I work with other attorneys all day and I truly truly wish they'd all be just a little less diligent and hard working.

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