Legal Question in Business Law in California

If I gave money to an attorney and there is still money left am I entitled to a refund of the balance?

Asked on 9/13/13, 4:01 pm

4 Answers from Attorneys

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

I guess. It would help if you had more detail. A true retainer is nonrefundable, but what attorneys call a true retainer is not. An advance fee payment for costs must be placed in trust, but I personally put advances for fees and costs in trust. If there is a balance after work is done, that money should be returned to the client, unless it was a true retainer.

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Answered on 9/13/13, 4:56 pm
Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

I agree. True retainers are seriously disfavored. It is virtually certain that even if your agreement with the lawyer says it is nonrefundable the State Bar will say it is unless earned.

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Answered on 9/13/13, 5:34 pm
John Laurie Gertz and Laurie

i would think so but need to see the agreement and billing to know for sure

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Answered on 9/15/13, 10:16 pm
Keith E. Cooper Keith E. Cooper, Esq.

Under California law, if you paid an advance deposit for legal services, and the work was completed (or abandoned) before the full amount of the deposit was used up, the attorney must return the balance. This also applies where you dismiss an attorney. The attorney's failure to do so can result in disciplinary action by the state bar. If you want further information about this, contact the State Bar of California.

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Answered on 9/17/13, 12:36 pm


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