John and Mary are going through a divorce, each has a personal attorney. After 2 years with no progress, except for excessive demands from Mary's lawyer to which John has voluntarily accommodated to avoid further delay, Mary's lawyer withdrew from the case for unspecified reasons.
Prior to this, multiple court dates had been cancelled and rescheduled at the request of Mary's attorney. Johns lawyer did not consult John prior to any of these postponements. Nor did he a give John the courtesy of adjusting his schedule, or even denying the request for change. Johns lawyer provided no explanations, but only emailed John with new court dates.
Shortly after the withdrawal of Mary's attorney, she paid a personal visit to John's lawyer and tearfully pleaded with him to convince John to settle the divorce out of court as she could not afford a new attorney. Since that visit Mary continues frequent communication with John's lawyer personally, via telephone and email, requesting confidential information about the case, to which she is provided.
A recent call to John from his attorney resulted in his lawyer asking him to consider mediation with Mary. John denied the request due to Marys difficult and calculating behavior displayed so far through the course of the case. She has been, up to this point, unreasonable, combative and dishonest in court. John feels his decision is justified. Johns attorney, on the other hand is displeased with this decision. This case, which was almost at it's conclusion, suddenly requires additional attention, court dates and paperwork. Obviously these services require additional fees, yet the fees to date have completely exhausted John's available funds.
John has paid his attorney more than $8,000.00 since this case began, and there has been no progression. He continues to receive new invoices for fees sometimes several times a month. His most recent bill, in excess of $3,000.00, included charges for each time Mary had made communication with John's lawyer.
John's attempt to dispute these fees resulted in his lawyer requesting payment in full, stating that unless John comply with this demand for payment, his attorney would not be obligated to provided any additional services or represent him further.
Is this legal malpractice?
Conflict of interest?
Failure to provide honest representation ?
Disclosing of confidential information?
Excessive and improper billing?
Would you advise firing this attorney or simply filing a complaint with the State Bar Association? Is there a way to have this case investigated for Legal Malpractice that won't require John to pay additional fees? If ruled in John's favor, will all fees be refunded to him? How will this case progress if a new attorney is required? Must John start over from the beginning with a new lawyer? Can John's current attorney quit the case or retaliate in some way if he realizes thatJohn has filed a complaint?