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Lawyer is using me like a personal piggy bank

Discussion in 'Lawyers, Legal Practice, Ethics & the Bar' started by Andy1234, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Andy1234

    Andy1234 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Illinois
    A company in Florida used my copyrighted images on its website to sell their own products. I sued them in Illinois. My lawyer told me it would cost $5-$6k to file the lawsuit and sent me the first bill at $15k and explained that a lot more work has to go into it, including proving that we should have jurisdiction in Illinois. I assumed we would have jurisdiction and wouldn’t have entered into this lawsuit, not in Illinois for sure, had I known we had to prove a right to jurisdiction. I had no evidence whatsoever that the florida company was selling into Illinois. All I knew for sure was that they were using my copyrighted images. Next month my lawyer sends me a bill for $20k. And we are still about 2 months from the Judge ruling on jurisdiction. I didn’t sign up to gamble away $50,000 if not more on the possibility of getting jurisdiction. My lawyer never told me that we would have to do this. I feel like I’m getting screwed by my own lawyer. Is there anything that can be done about this? I was a victim and now I feel like even more of a victim after hiring a law firm that was meant to make me whole. My company doesn’t have this kind of money. We are a small business.
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Look at the fee agreement you signed with the lawyer and the work that has been done. If he's earned the fee he's charged so far then you owe the lawyer the fee. As for going forward, you are free to fire this lawyer and get a new one if you can find one that will do the rest of the lawsuit less expensively or you can simply drop the matter altogether if you don't want to pay the fees it will take to litigate this. Will the judgment you may get at the end of all this be worth the legal fees you have to pay to get it?
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Never agree to retain an attorney to represent you UNLESS the lawyer creates a signed, dated RETAINER.

    ALWAYS make sure your retainer agreement (the contract between you and your attorney) ha sa provision to contact you if expenditures EXCEED a certain dollar amount, requiring you to authorize the additional spending.

    That provision also allows you to cancel the agreement, if, as in your case the costs are likely to exceed the benefits you wish to achieve.

    Did you have such a retainer with your attorney?

    I suggest you seek an appointment with your attorney ASAP to sit down (face to face) and discuss the case in an attempt to resolve the matter.

    If you remain unhappy after the meeting, your next option would be to file a complaint with the state attorney regulatory agency..

    A client is free to lodge a complaint:

    By completing a complaint form, which you can be obtained on the Web site of the:

    ARDC of the Supreme Court of Illinois:

    ARDC  |  How to Submit a Request For Investigation

    The entire process is explained on the website!

    One of the latest explanations about retainers is based on the 2007 "Dowling" IL Supreme Court Decision:

    Supreme Court e-Newsletter


    An IL attorney's take on retainers:

    The Importance of Having an Attorney On Retainer


    One explanation of legal/attorney retainers:

    https://cdn.ymaws.com/iadtc.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/imported/PublicationPDfs/19.2.24.pdf






    Another explanation of retainers:

    https://www.iardc.org/MinimizingYourRisk_Retainers.pdf
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Sure. Sit down and talk with your lawyer. If you can't resolve the matter to your satisfaction, fire your lawyer and hire another.
     
  5. Andy1234

    Andy1234 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    He already invoiced me for $40,000 and we still don’t know if we have jurisdiction. I hired him for copyright infringement not to spend an unlimited amount of money to gamble on jurisdiction. The defendant is seeking legal fees too now. If I fire this lawyer, a new lawyer would have to continue the course. I would have never started this lawsuit had I known that I would have to prove we have a right to jurisdiction as I had no evidence that the defendant and was selling anything into my state from his. My lawyer, in my opinion, should have told me that we would first have to win a jurisdictional fight. I would have said no and saved my money. I don’t believe this is ethical to spend a client’s money in such a negligent way. Even when I go to Las Vegas, I don’t gamble even a quarter. And this lawyer is gambling with $50,000+ of my money now at this point. This isn’t a gamble I would have authorized.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You can see if the IL State AG can negotiate a settlement, if you want your money returned.


    How do I file a complaint against a lawyer in Illinois?

    You can file your complaint THREE ways:


    1. Complete a complaint form , which you can obtain on this Web site Illinois Attorney General - Office of The Inspector General or in the reception area of the Attorney General's Office;

    2. Call the Inspector General's Hotline at (888) 814-4646

    3. E-mail the Inspector General's Office at [email protected]

    Their website where you can learn MORE about filing a complaint against your current lawyer:

    Illinois Attorney General - Office of The Inspector General
     

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