Questionable Item on Atty Billing Invoice - How to Approach - Advice Appreciated
Thanks in advance for any advice - I am putting this out there before I approach it with my attorney.
I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit that my attorney filed nearly two years ago, and that is still in the discovery phase. I have a good working relationship with my attorney – he sends an invoice every few months, I review it and pay it within a week after I received it. In all this time I have only had one question about a bill, and that had to do with a math error that he corrected. About 9-10 months after I retained him, he reduced my hourly rate by $75 – probably because I have been actively participating in the day-to-day paperwork - doing a lot of the legwork, research, writing & revising of correspondence, etc. myself (subject to his final approval of course). Overall I have been satisfied with his representation.
In January we discussed filing a motion with the court because the defendants were not abiding by several of the judge’s management orders issued in the months prior. My lawyer told me he was working on the motion and that he would send a draft to me for my review soon. The draft never materialized and a motion was never filed – instead the situation was discussed with the judge at the next management conference at the end of February, which resulted in another court order containing additional terms by which the defendants must abide (which they haven’t yet, but that’s another story).
On the latest invoice that I received a couple of days ago, there is an entry reading “prepared motion to dismiss for failure to provide discovery” - $402.50 - which speaks to the motion we discussed but was never filed, and of which I never saw a draft.
I do not question that my lawyer worked on a draft, but my question is: how responsible am I for his work on a product that I never saw, and that never came to fruition? Also, how do you suggest I begin any discussion asking for clarification? Or should I simply accept the fact that he spent time on a draft, and is due compensation for his time spent even though I never saw a product, and that the product (motion) was never filed?
This is a good lawyer who has been representing me well & treating me fairly, and with whom I have had no complaints, and want to continue representing me. Consequently I do not want to come off appearing distrustful or accusatory, and am therefore uncertain if or how to approach this.
My spouse is saying we should simply let it go, but I need some objective feedback. Thanks for any guidance.
how responsible am I for his work on a product that I never saw, and that never came to fruition?
100% responsible. That he found a cheaper (at least to you) way of accomplishing the same thing does not take away from the work.
If you like, ask him to show you the workproduct. Say it's so you can educate yourself on the status of the case and what your argument is. An attorney who actually prepared something presentable shouldn't hesitate to provide you a copy--especially when you can demand your file anyway.
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