What if my attorney is going to sue me if I don’t pay more?
Finding the best divorce lawyer to meet your needs can feel like a challenging task. Fortunately, most members of the legal profession who practice in the area of divorce law are experienced and reputable attorneys. Once in a while, a person may encounter an issue with a divorce lawyer. Oftentimes, such an issue centers on a billing or fee related issue. For example, you may wonder what to do if your attorney threatens to sue you if you do not pay more for legal fees in your divorce case.
The Code of Professional Responsibility
Each state has established a code of professional conduct for lawyers. This oftentimes is called the Code of Professional Responsibility, or something similar. Included in the code of conduct for attorneys are directives regarding the manner in which a lawyer is to deal with attorney fees.
Attorney Fee Agreement
The typical divorce attorney enters into a written contract for services with a client. The contract sets forth the specifics regarding the amount of attorney fees to be assessed in a case, as well as how those fees are to be paid. Both the attorney, and the client, are obliged to follow the terms and conditions set forth in the contract for professional services they enter into with one another. In other words, an attorney cannot charge more in the way of fees than what is permitted in the contract. In addition, a client must pay the attorney fees as agreed to in the contract.
The Code of Professional Responsibility or Conduct
In each state, there is a written code that governs the professional conduct of lawyers licensed to represent clients. The failure to follow the proscriptions of the code can result in serious consequences for a lawyer, including the possibility of disbarment. The codes in place in each state establish the parameters within which lawyers can operate in regard to attorney fees.
In addition, each state also has an agency or organization that oversees the professional conduct of attorneys. A client with a bona fide issue regarding a lawyer can file a complaint with the agency or organization in his or her state that governs the conduct of lawyers.
Demanding Additional Attorney Fees
If a lawyer demands additional attorney fees, above and beyond what is called for in the contract for services he or she has with a client, a client likely has recourse. First of all, a lawyer cannot appropriately threaten to sue a person who is his or her client. Second, a lawyer cannot demand more in the way of attorney fees than is permitted under the terms and conditions of the contract for services.
A lawyer can demand payment pursuant to the agreed terms and conditions of the contract for services. However, there are limitations in regard to what a lawyer can do in this regard, as established by the state’s attorney conduct code.
If your own lawyer is threatening to sue you if you don’t pay more money in fees, you need to contact the attorney licensing authority in your state. The clerk of the highest court in your state will have the contact information you need, as will the state and local bar association. The best way to protect your interests in this regard is to take a proactive approach to seeking assistance from the attorney regulatory.