I am a mother of 2 who has been in an abusive marriage. I have tried leaving but gone back with him. Now I have left again for several months and intend to divorce.
The attorney I retained recently is not what I expected. She seemed at first like she would be a good rep for me but since I have retained her she has been upsetting. She does not answer the phone and doesn't have a secretary, it's very difficult to get her to call back within even a week, and she plays devils advocate towards my ex. I have spoken face to face with her 3 times in the past 9 months and the last two times she has criticized me several times and disregarded my concerns with my ex. I need to know how to go about getting my retainer money back(or part of it), especially seeing that she is tough to communicate with. I did not leave her earlier because I figured it would look bad for me to leave an attorney and was worried I wouldn't get my money back. Now I am rethinking this and trying to look ahead also--I need a lawyer I can trust and expect to represent me well.
2 Answers from Attorneys
It is inexcusable for an attorney not to return calls. Good attorneys never take more than a day or two to return calls. Attorneys who can't return calls in over a week should be reported to the state bar for discipline.
Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on the language of your fee contract (and how much time the lawyer has spent).
Note that many family lawyers will tend to reject cases where you have fired a prior law, especially many months into a case, but in a case where a lawyer is this non-responsive, line up your new one, fire the bad one, and because of the pattern of unreturned calls, make a bar complaint after you get your new lawyer on board,
Look to the terms of the fee contract or retainer agreement to see what procedure that requires. If you did not sign one, demand the entire fee be returned, along with a copy of your entire file. Then, find another attorney, who comes recommended. I know some very capable attorneys who practice with no staff support. However, given the attention necessary in complicated domestic cases, it is impossible for most such attorneys to handle the communication needs of a client while at the same time handling court appearances. See several and pick one you are comfortable with, making sure to address your needs when you do.