Before you hire an attorney, it's critical to discuss their compensation. Not only should you talk about this important detail, but it should also be part of the contract you sign.
Even if you have everything in order up front, there may be some gray area that allows your lawyer to charge excessive fees. It's important to understand when this can come into play, as it will allow you to best protect your legal rights.
Here are a few of the most common deceptive billing practices to watch for:
- Hidden expenses: All expenses, big and small, should be laid out in your contract. If your attorney attempts to sneak these in at a later date, review your contract and ask them about it.
- Excessive billing: Also known as overbilling, this typically occurs when a legal professional overstates the amount of time it took to perform a particular task. This is one of the most common ways for an attorney to increase the amount of money they earn.
- Surcharge on specific expenses: Most legal cases have expenses attached to them. For example, your law firm may have to make copies of important documents and pay postage fees. Some attorneys add a surcharge to these expenses as a way of increasing revenue.
- Incomplete billing information: If your legal bill is incomplete or vague, you should ask for a better explanation. For instance, the task of writing a letter or email should outline who constructed it, who typed it, the nature of the letter and exactly how long it took.
You hope that you never run into one or more of these deceptive billing practices when working with your attorney. If you do, don't hesitate to ask questions in an attempt to get to the bottom of the issue. This may be all it takes to reach common ground.
If your attorney fights back, telling you that you're wrong, review your contract again and learn more about your legal rights in Colorado. You may be able to terminate your contract immediately, and then file a lawsuit for legal malpractice.
Visit our website and read our blog for more guidance regarding legal malpractice and how to protect yourself if this happens to you.