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please help!! can attorney legally charge me for this??

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What is the name of your state? ohio

I had a consultation with an attorney and paid her consultation fee in full at the time of the meeting.
She told me the retainer fee and sent me a letter to sign and return with a check for the retainer amount if I were to use her. I wasn't sure if she was the one I wanted so I didn't send her the signed retainer or amount.
I called her to ask if I should sign some particular papers pertaining to my case (the papers popped up out of the blue, I needed to know immediately, I just thought to call her since I had just spoken to her the previous day). She said yes, sign them, then we got into a discussion about where she went to highschool, apparently she had gone to school with my neighbor. We also talked for awhile about our two highschools and grade schools (same area, rival schools) and "did you know him, did you know her" type banter.
The following week I received a bill in the mail for $400.00. I am furious. I understand charging for the 15 minutes it took to tell me to sign the papers and why, but to charge me for all the chit chat "Do you know so and so" took me completely by surprise! She monopolized the conversation talking of her old friends and boyfriends, how she met her husband etc.
The bottom line, am I legally bound to pay this $400.00 bill? I never did sign or send in $ for a retainer fee. I would gladly have paid for the 15 mins. advice, but now frankly I don't want to pay for any of it. Please help. Thank you.

Whyte Noise

Senior Member
I'll give you the same advice that IAAL, one of our local resident FA attornies told me....

We had a consult with an attorney. Paid the consult fee. 2 months later, they sent us a letter reminding us that if we wanted to get the case moving forward, we'd have to pay the retainer. 3 months after that letter, we got a BILL for the letter they sent us reminding us that if we wanted to be his client that we had to pay the retainer!!! In a nutshell, IAAL's advice was:

Ask the attorney if they have a signed and dated Attorney/Client Retainer Agreement. If they do (which you know they don't!) to please show you where you authorized for a phone conversation where that attorney jabbered on and on reminiscing about her high school days and her husband to be charged towards your retainer. (Which you know you haven't paid to start with, and therefore haven't retained her services.)

IAAL was even so nice to type me up a letter (not personally, but he posted it on here) that I printed out and sent to the attorney. Yes, I went down there and raised hell, but I sent the letter too. Make sure that you send the dispute in writing, Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. You didn't pay a retainer, your legal obligation ended when you paid for the consult, you never signed an Attorney/Client Retainer Agreement. Just last Tuesday, I recieved a letter back from our attorney in question, and he said that "apparently" his office had overlooked the fact that he was never retained, and to disregard the previous bill.


Under the Radar Member
MissouriGal said:
I'll give you the same advice that IAAL, one of our local resident FA attornies told me....
But you also dind't call him and ask for additional input on anything.

What I would do is contact her office (in writing is best), and request an *itemized* bill. See what that produces. If it indicates that your discussion was more than, say 30 minutes, respond (again in writing) that you feel it's inaccurate and plan to take it to dispute resolution.

Whyte Noise

Senior Member
Nope, sure didn't. But, that doesn't change the fact that she was never a client of this woman's to start with. If an attorney charged you for every phone call you did to their office to ask a question, what would be the point of a retainer agreement? I've called many an attorney out of the phone book and asked a question. Never been charged. Calling and asking a question doesn't mean that you've retained their services. And I don't see how she can be billed when she was never a client to start with. :confused:


Senior Member
Damn, I haven't been able to get but two attorneys to talk to me on the phone. They always want me to come in and spend money on a consult, naturally.

Could this be considered a phone consult fee by the office? Even though it is extremely high and considering the fact that most of the conversation was irrelevant to the subject at hand.

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