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Atty Filing Motion Seeking Leave to Withdraw as Judge Denied his Application for Comp

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  • Atty Filing Motion Seeking Leave to Withdraw as Judge Denied his Application for Comp

    Hello All,

    I received a letter from my attorney today stating that he plans to file a motion seeking leave to withdraw from our case because the judge denied his Application for Compensation, and he doesn't want to continue representing us without further compensation. We paid $3,500 up front, and then the miscellaneous fees. And, the judge allowed an additional $824 through the plan. But, our attorney had billed us for over $11,000 (addtl) and we are only about 24 months into our 60 month Plan.

    So...he says we need to obtain successor counsel by September 13th. We aren't sure how this works, and don't know who would take on our case without at least some compensation. Our attorney had amended our plan (and it was Confirmed) to include $7500 for attorney there is extra money in the Plan, as far as I see it.

    Has anyone had this type of experience? Should we consider representing ourselves at this point?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
    Filed Chapter 13 on September 2, 2011 - Confirmed on May 8, 2013 (Our 20th Wedding Anniversary!) - 22 Payments Down, 38 to Go!

  • #2
    i have no direct experience in your situation, however, did you not sign a rate contract with this atty? is this additional 11k substantiated? (maybe not, since the trustee denied the request). also, what happens with that incurred 11k worth of legal fees do they disappear into never ever bk land?

    if the plan was amended $7500 to obtain another atty and i could find one that would take your case i would jump right off his wagon. shoot, i can't figure out how anyone could add that much more to you legal fees. also, you would need to make certain whomever it is that takes the case doesn't feel you are their piggy bank. unreal really. i'm so sorry you are experiencing this. i wonder if the trustee could do anything about this like sanctions of some type, after all if that firm does bk one would think the firm would want to stay on the good side of the trustees in their district.

    i hope it all works out, again, maybe the trustees office could give a recommendation since this situation is somewhat unusual. best of luck! i'm sure it will all work out.
    8/4/2008 MAKE SURE AND VISIT Tobee's Blogs! and all are welcome to bk forum's Florida State Questions and Answers on BK


    • #3
      I don't know but just had to say that I think it's CRAZY that your attorney is trying to charge you a total of like $15k for a bankruptcy - what in the world could he have done to justify that high of charges?! I'm so sorry.


      • #4
        can you tell us WHY he wants so much money?
        details always help us help you

        Keep On Smilin'


        • #5
          Yes, a little more info would be helpful. I know that Massachusetts has a high cost of living, but gee whiz, that attorney should be traveling to your house and tucking you in at night for what he trying to charge.....!
          "To go bravely forward is to invite a miracle."

          "Worry is the darkroom where negatives are formed."


          • #6
            It's a little unclear to me what's going on here.
            He's been confirmed to get 7500? which is already bizarre to begin with... PLUS 824 which was ok'ed? But he wants ANOTHER 11K in addition? so possibly....over 19K (?) !!!!
            that must be some complicated case.

            Keep On Smilin'


            • #7
              Could the judge order the attorney to transfer legal fees to a new attorney willing to do his proper job that he signed up for yet is not willing to complete?

              I ask because at my 341 the trustees representative told an attorney to refund a portion of his fee as the plan was so poorly filed.
              11/23/'10-filed ch 13. 1/6/'11-341, confirmed. Below median. Plan completed 11/30/2015. DISSCHARGED 4/4/2016.JP


              • #8
                Those are Chapter 11 types of fees -- not Chapter 13! This must be the most complicated Chapter 13 case (that took 12 months to confirm with a lot of hearings), or this attorney charges over $500/hour and worked 40 hours... which is unheard of.

                There is a reason why bankruptcy courts have set certain "no look" fees and monitor what a typical fee should be for a typical bankruptcy petition.
                Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


                • #9
                  Thank you everyone for your responses! They confirm what my husband and I suspected all along...that we were being taken advantage of. I don't have the time right now to go into more detail, but I will later on. I don't believe our case was complicated enough to justify what he charged.
                  Filed Chapter 13 on September 2, 2011 - Confirmed on May 8, 2013 (Our 20th Wedding Anniversary!) - 22 Payments Down, 38 to Go!


                  • #10
                    OK...I have a few more minutes now to address some of the points you all made and questions you asked.

                    RE: Clarification of Total Bill thus Far: We paid $3,500 up front along with the miscellaneous filing fees; and then we began to get monthly bills for all other fees. Our most recent bill was nearly $11,000. Our Plan was amended and confirmed to include $7,500 for attorneys fees, with language stating those fees had to be approved by the judge, which they were not. However, our amended Plan payments increased to account for that $7,500. So, I am hoping maybe that amount can be used to pay a new attorney if we are able to find one. Anyone have any thoughts?

                    RE: Complexity of our Case: My husband is self-employed, so our case was slightly more complicated (re: proof of income, etc.); but, I provided all of the detailed information for them. And, the attorney subcontracted a paralegal who did most of the "leg-work" and put in many hours compiling and meticulously organizing our case for us. She was a real gem!! She received $500 of the original $3,500 according to his Application for Compensation. There were no additional hearings or issues with creditors. Our attorney filed objections to claims that we did not ask him to file, and billed more for his time that the original claims were worth! As a result of this, we asked for a credit (and he did credit some of the amount) and we requested in writing (email) that he didn't do anything "extra" on our case, just what was necessary as the bill was increasing so rapidly. The only reason the confirmation took 20 months was because our Trustee's office has a huge backlog.

                    RE: Our Original Payment Agreement: The agreement included the upfront fees and then indicated that he could charge an hourly rate for himself and his assistant for additional work. But, I remember that he specifically downplayed the likelihood of significant additional charges. The agreement also stated that if his fees increased, we would be notified in writing so that we would have chance to object. Our very first bill reflected a $25/per hour increase in both his and his assistant's fees....and we never received notification in writing. I didn't notice this until recently when I dug out the original agreement. I had been considering writing a letter about this to the judge before the hearing for Clarification of the of Order for Compensation...but, now that has been cancelled as the judge denied any additional payment.

                    RE: Why Attorney has Charged So Much: Quite frankly...I am not sure. He simply billed us for every second that he or his assistant touched anything related to our case. And, it is disappointing, because I still have unanswered questions from emails that I sent twice. I called the Trustee's office several times to get answers to questions that he wasn't providing. He seemed to evade the difficult questions.

                    We had originally interviewed two attorneys that had been referred to us by a business attorney that we respected. We ended up choosing the one we did because the other didn't return our calls, and we wanted to get things moving. So, at this point...we are considering three options:

                    1) Call the original paralegal for attorney referral?
                    2) Call the other attorney we met with and see if he would take on our case now? (He was a Trustee for many seems well-qualified.)
                    3) Call the Trustee's office for advice?

                    Again, any additional advice would be appreciated!
                    Filed Chapter 13 on September 2, 2011 - Confirmed on May 8, 2013 (Our 20th Wedding Anniversary!) - 22 Payments Down, 38 to Go!


                    • #11
                      At this point, your main problem will be getting another attorney to handle your case. Very few like to step in to another attorney's work (or mess).

                      Certainly your trustee knows that your attorney has petitioned to get himself removed as Attorney of Record in your case. I would call your trustee's office and see what he/she and or the assistants can recommend.

                      You may also want to call the Clerk of the BK Court and ask to speak to your Caseworker. Have your case number at hand, as that determines who is assigned to your case. Explain to the person, that your attorney has petitioned the Court to withdraw from your case, and what does he/she recommend?

                      If these suggestions don't work out, would you and your DH feel up to handling your case pro se?
                      "To go bravely forward is to invite a miracle."

                      "Worry is the darkroom where negatives are formed."


                      • #12
                        Thank you, AngelinaCat. Those are great suggestions...I will try both in order to compare their recommendations. We are not completely opposed to handling our case pro se...but, nervous about that option. However, I feel that we are definitely more invested in our success than any attorney would be!
                        Filed Chapter 13 on September 2, 2011 - Confirmed on May 8, 2013 (Our 20th Wedding Anniversary!) - 22 Payments Down, 38 to Go!


                        • #13
                          How comfortable are you with your plan payment and how stable do you believe your employment is? If you forsee no problems making your plan payments, substiting your self in pro-se may make sense. If the unexpected happens and you need help, you can look for another attorney at that time. In fact, you can start the search now for somebody who is willing to take over a case he did not file so you know who to call if and when you need somebody.
                          LadyInTheRed is in the black!
                          Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
                          $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


                          • #14
                            Thank you for your reply, LITR.

                            We are comfortable with our Plan payment with the current status of our employment. However, the majority of our income is generated from my husband's self-employment which is tied directly to the building industry. So if the economy were to take a nosedive again, we would be in a bind. I have two part-time jobs, one in bookkeeping for a small business, and the other in real estate sales (Mostly new construction - which is also tied to the building industry!! I know, I know...our eggs are almost all in one basket!). Things are going well right now...and we foresee a good year ahead. But, there really is no way to predict the future.

                            Having said that, we had no control over what just happened with our attorney, either. Now we just have to look into the possible options, and move forward. Lesson learned - you can't worry about things that you can't control; but, do something about what you can!
                            Filed Chapter 13 on September 2, 2011 - Confirmed on May 8, 2013 (Our 20th Wedding Anniversary!) - 22 Payments Down, 38 to Go!


                            • #15
                              It does seem like a lot of money to pay.
                              Discharged- pro se- chapter 7~!


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