Of course! Before, during, and after the service is rendered, there are several ways to object. When first interviewing your attorney, you should decide if you can afford that law firm’s services. Once you have received a Retainer Agreement, it is important to review each and every term. If you don’t understand any one term, you should feel free to ask your lawyer to explain it completely so that there is no initial misunderstanding.
Once your case is under way, your lawyer should send you monthly bills. Since most lawyers use computer programs to prepare billings for all their clients, it’s possible that a mistaken entry may show up. Call as soon as possible to report the mistake and follow up the complaint in writing.
If you believe at any time during your representation that you are either being overcharged, or you just wish to discuss the issue with your attorney, you always have the option of doing so. If you are not satisfied, you have every right to go to a different attorney whom you feel is more in line with your needs.
If you believe, at the end of your case, that you have a legitimate dispute over the amount of fees charged, you should contact your local bar association and request mediation or arbitration with the Attorney-Client Fee Dispute Service. This is available through almost every bar association. Each local bar provides such a service and gives you an opportunity to have an impartial lawyer or panel review your complaint and make a recommendation for resolution of your dispute. Just remember to keep communication with your attorney open throughout your relationship with him or her, in order to maximize the success of your representation.
Rosaline L. Zukerman has been practicing primarily in the family law area for over 22 years. Her background in psychology and counseling makes her especially adept at dispute resolution, in addition to active representation of families in crisis. For over 15 years, she has volunteered her pro-bono services through the Los Angeles County Bar Attorney-Client Fee Disputes Arbitration Services.