Fee Disputes Between Lawyers and Clients in DUI Cases
How to avoid fee misunderstandings between DUI lawyers and clients.
Any experienced DUI lawyer knows that the quality of his or her work must be documented and provable in the event of a fee dispute.
All experienced DUI lawyers know that they are dealing with people during what is usually the lowest point in their lives. For that reason, it is important for the expectations to be clear.
Typically the fee agreement and the end result of the case will speak for itself. But if the terms of the fee agreement are ambiguous, each state’s bar association has mechanisms designed to protect both the public and lawyers during fee disputes.
From the perspective of a lawyer, most disputes can be avoided or resolved by always setting clear and realistic expectations.
From the client’s perspective, disputes can be avoided by doing your due diligence, interviewing several lawyers before making a decision of who to hire, and insisting that everything be in writing.
For both lawyers and clients, it is important to communicate early and often in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
When preventative measures fail and a dispute is inevitable, it is often times in everybody’s best interest to resolve it quietly, either through private discussions, or through arbitration.
Filing a public lawsuit can cause undue attention to both the client and the lawyer, and is usually looked at as a last resort.
For lawyers who have not been paid, there is the availability of collections agencies. Although some lawyers counsel against using “muscle” to go after an unpaid fee, many have successfully used collections agencies to collect from deadbeat clients.
For clients who have been ripped off by a lawyer, the state bar association may be helpful. This is especially true in cases where the attorney has accepted an advanced fee and then failed to fulfill the terms of the retainer agreement, has become disbarred, ill or deceased during the course of the representation, or who has simply disappeared (you might be surprised how many lawyers get suspended or disbarred each year for abandoning their law practices).
While there is no right way to go about resolving a dispute, the fact is that in most disputes it is in everybody’s best interest to come to a quick agreement and avoid bitter or protracted litigation. There are enough things in this world to worry about and our general advice to both clients and lawyers is to compromise wherever possible and try to work it out.