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  1. #1
    naesatt is offline Member
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    Question Attorney Won't Release My Check!!

    What is the name of your state? OHIO

    I was awarded a $3,000.00 settlement + $1,000.00 in attorney fees from the apposing party in my case. My attorney is refusing to release my check(s), that were written from my apposing party's personal checking account, written out to me, in leu of my bill. I do not currently has a complete bill, my attorney has not yet in 3 years provided me with a bill that reflects the retainer fees of $1,650.00 showing it has been applied toward my account. My attorney wanted me to "sign the back of the check" so "it can be deposited into his client account". I refused to sign the back of the check(s), I have not seen the $1,000.00 check that is to be applied toward my attorney fees yet.....I don't know who it was written out to....and I cannot get a straight answer out of him. A complete bill was to be compiled over this past weekend and sent to me. I called my attorney's office to ask if the bill was complete, and have not heard anything back yet......Is my attorney allowed to withhold these checks from me Thanks for any help you can provide.
    Last edited by naesatt; 03-26-2008 at 07:26 AM.
  2. #2
    Rexlan is offline Senior Member
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    Your bill is going to be ~ $5,700 so you will only need to send him another $50 ....
  3. #3
    naesatt is offline Member
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    Yes....but can he hold a check in my name legally?
  4. #4
    racer72 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by naesatt View Post
    Yes....but can he hold a check in my name legally?
    Yep, it's called a lien.
    If you feel my answer is rude, mean, snarky or in anyway not to your liking, I did my job. You don't need to tell me.

    No private messages, I do not reply to them.
  5. #5
    Dandy Don is offline Senior Member
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    Send him a certified letter stating that if he does not send you your check within a certain number of days that you will have no choice but to file a complaint against him with the Ohio State Bar Association.
  6. #6
    naesatt is offline Member
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    I haven't even had the opportunity to see my bill yet. Just for argument's sake... if I signed over the check, being a third party check, how would I have proof that I paid anything. I would have no proof with a canceled check even... How can there be a lien against a bill I haven't even been given the chance to pay? And what course of action do I have? Actual fees that I have paid and have proof of are not even accounted for on the only statement I have recieved. Checks were released to my lawyer March 1st 2008. I was told that the firm changed their billing software, and are currently investigating my bill. They said they may not even be able to show me a complete bill. Can anyone give me advice on how to handle this?
  7. #7
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Google

    ohio attorney's lien

    for all kinds of info.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  8. #8
    naesatt is offline Member
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    Let me see if I understand...

    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge View Post
    Google

    ohio attorney's lien

    for all kinds of info.

    Let me see if I understand...does my attorney have to withdraw as my counsel before he can file an attorneys lien? Also he actually has to file physical lien with the court of which I would receive notice from the court of right? I am sorry...but everything else I could dig up was not able to penetrate my tiny brain, if I could possibly ask for you to explain it would be greatly appreciated....thanks.
  9. #9
    smorr is offline Member
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    You need to demand an invoice from the firm - not the attorney. You want to determine if your retainer was used up during the case/trial. You can file a complaint with the Attorney's Bar Association in your state against the attorney. They will have to investigate to see why the money hasn't been sent to you. Anything you send to the attorney's office or to the Bar Association, send by Certified Mail/Return Receipt. It'll cost a little, but it will help to give you a 'paper trail' so you have something to go with if your case goes that far. I can only think that the amount of money the attorney charged for the matter went over and above the retainer plus the amount of the award and he doesn't want to fess up to it.
  10. #10
    Texas Pooh is offline Member
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    You also need to sign the check and allow them to deposit to the trust account.

    Attorneys and firms have trust accounts to allow settlement funds (which are generally written to both attorney and client, because of the lien issue) to clear while in a trust account. (Trust accounts also serve other purposes not relevant here). Trust accounts are highly regulated and abuse of same is the quickest way for a lawyer to lose his/her licence.

    The attorney can't withdraw funds from the trust account until he provides you with a full accounting, showing how the money has been applied. This is for your protection and the attorney's. Once the accounting is done, the trust fund issues two checks - one to attorney for fees and one to client for balance.

    However, the trust fund can't issue any checks until the original check has irrevocably cleared (typically, ten days). That's because an attorney can not pay either himself or another client with funds that "belong" to another client, even if there are other funds in the trust account.

    So, if you keep waiting (or get the bar involved too soon) you'll delay the whole process.

    Call the attorney's office on Monday. Sign the check, and ask when the accounting will be prepared and settlement checks ready (which may be, as described above), up to ten business days. Go home, write a letter, send certified, that says something like:

    Today (date), at your request, I signed the settlement check and was informed by Nancy Paralegal that it would be deposited to Firm Name's trust account. I also understand from Ms. Paralegal that I will be given a final accounting and a settlement check on (date). If that is not your understanding, please contact me immediately. Otherwise, I look forward to your call on (date).

    If, on (date), you don't get a call, that's when you complain to the bar.
  11. #11
    naesatt is offline Member
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    Once Again....

    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Pooh View Post
    You also need to sign the check and allow them to deposit to the trust account.

    Attorneys and firms have trust accounts to allow settlement funds (which are generally written to both attorney and client, because of the lien issue) to clear while in a trust account. (Trust accounts also serve other purposes not relevant here). Trust accounts are highly regulated and abuse of same is the quickest way for a lawyer to lose his/her licence.

    The attorney can't withdraw funds from the trust account until he provides you with a full accounting, showing how the money has been applied. This is for your protection and the attorney's. Once the accounting is done, the trust fund issues two checks - one to attorney for fees and one to client for balance.

    However, the trust fund can't issue any checks until the original check has irrevocably cleared (typically, ten days). That's because an attorney can not pay either himself or another client with funds that "belong" to another client, even if there are other funds in the trust account.

    So, if you keep waiting (or get the bar involved too soon) you'll delay the whole process.

    Call the attorney's office on Monday. Sign the check, and ask when the accounting will be prepared and settlement checks ready (which may be, as described above), up to ten business days. Go home, write a letter, send certified, that says something like:

    Today (date), at your request, I signed the settlement check and was informed by Nancy Paralegal that it would be deposited to Firm Name's trust account. I also understand from Ms. Paralegal that I will be given a final accounting and a settlement check on (date). If that is not your understanding, please contact me immediately. Otherwise, I look forward to your call on (date).

    If, on (date), you don't get a call, that's when you complain to the bar.
    Once again the check(s) are in my name only**************..
  12. #12
    Texas Pooh is offline Member
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    Once again ...

    it doesn't matter. Attorney has an absolute lien until paid in full. You are not going to get a check until you follow the correct procedure.
  13. #13
    naesatt is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Pooh View Post
    Once again ...

    it doesn't matter. Attorney has an absolute lien until paid in full. You are not going to get a check until you follow the correct procedure.

    Does he not have to physically file for a lien against the settlement? And how can this happen without a full billing statement**************just trying to understand more clearly please....thanks. Just seems to me that everyone could go around filling liens against people for whatever they wanted without a bill????
  14. #14
    Texas Pooh is offline Member
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    No. He doesn't not have to file a lien. He has an automatic lien until he has been paid. We're not talking about "anyone", we are talking about the specific attorney-client relationship and the attorney's lien to ensure that s/he is paid from the proceeds of his work (e.g., your settlement).

    You will get an itemized bill - just follow the procedures that have been explained.
  15. #15
    startech39 is offline Junior Member
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    Do I understand correctly that first you paid him a $1650.00 retainer and then you won $3000.00 plus another $1000.00 for atty fees? It has been 3 years and you still do not have anything reflecting the original $1650.00 retainer paid nor a final bill? I am not an attorney, but I would not sign over that check either. Have you thought about reporting that check stolen to opposing council and see if you can get them to put a stop payment on the original $3000.00 check and writing you another? You might even have to bargain down the replacement check some**************...I don't understand how your atty can legally claim lien when he cant even get you a final bill or show a retainer already paid!!!!!!!!!!!!

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