Help with attorney dispute. Any suggestions? - Posted by Mike


Posted by Mike on January 12, 1999 at 14:25:01:

I have a minor dilemma with my attorney that I was hoping to get some assistance with.

This past March I bought a property and had intended to sell it via a land contract to another person. I paid my attorney $275 for representing me at the closing plus another $275 for his representation when I sell the building. My attorney began preparing the docs for the land contract, but the buyer and I decided to try to structure the deal differently midstream. We planned to do a “normal” sale and I would carry back a 2nd mortgage. We contacted a mortgage broker and began putting the deal together, but, unfortunately it fell through due to zoning issues with the property. In the meantime my attorney prepared docs for this closing that fell to the wayside. By this time, it’s September '98 and my attorney referred the buyer to a 2nd mortgage broker to get the deal done. I had no knowledge of this and the lawyer began preparing docs for yet another closing that once again did not take place.

After all this, he calls me yesterday and wants me to pay him $1400 plus another $450 for cancelled title commitments that were ordered for the three closings that never took place. He claims that he spent many, many more hours on this file than the average deal. I felt this was absolutely absurd since his normal closing fee is only $275 which I paid him upfront. I admitted that he had done more work on this file than normal, and he does deserve to be paid. However, he should have warned me when his costs were getting excessively high. I never authorized him simply log hours at will.

Sorry for the long post, but is this abnormal behavior for an attorney? We have no contract, so he’s relying on good faith that I will pay him. I want to compensate for the extra work he did, but it seems to me he’s that this much money for something that never took place is a bit excessive.