Q: The venue where the lawyer practices in CA and I live in Idaho I am hoping to get an opinion/guidance for the following
I discussed my needs with an attorney. (interview) Five days later, I decided to hire him and I paid a $2,000 retainer.
Three months later, I received my first invoice for $5,300, of which $3,000 was for "work" before I hired him.
The interview was to be free as is customary with many lawyers. I had no obligation to hire him.
1. Because I was charged $3000 for work before I hired him, I dispute the charge.
2. By signing the contract the attn/client relationship started. Had he disclosed that the second I hired him I owed $1000 more than he requested for a deposit, I would never sign. 3 months later he bill for this fictitious work.
3. Do I have a fraud case?
4. If I have a fraud case, must I sue in his state, or can I sue in the state where I reside?
5. Do I sue in small claims court for $3000 or the maximum $10000, or do I sue in civil court and ask X3 punitive damages?
The limit of 1000 characters is insufficient to better explain but I hope that it helps.
A: A lawyer is always advised to get a signed agreement prior to doing work for a client. However, that fact will not mean that an attorney/client relationship didn't exist. In fact, for you to recover on any of your claims it seems to me, you would have to admit that an attorney/client relationship DID exist. You admit that he did work for you in the sum of $3,000 and admit that there was a "contract." Right? Why would the attorney do $3,000 worth of work for you and not bill you? What "new contract" did he send you to sign? How many contracts did you sign with him? Did the attorney actually do work for you prior to signing a written, attorney/client agreement? If your "agreement" calls for arbitration, why not do that? If someone who is independent, looks over the work the attorney did for you and doesn't think the attorney's work was worth $3,000, then the independent attorney will adjust the attorney's income and you will only have that much to pay.
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