I was billed by a law firm that I never agreed to having any work done by. I was checking with two different law firms regarding an recent employment law decision by CA courts (I'm a small business owner) and how it affected my current employees. I spoke with the first attorney on the phone for about 15 minutes, and was told they would have to "clear" my company through some database before they could provide me with an estimate. They sent me an "Engagement Letter" several days later and asked that I sign and return it to them, along with copies of our employment agreements and details that were needed. I asked how long it would take, and was told 6-10 hours. Since I could not afford that, I hired the other law firm, and simply never sent back the engagement letter, required documents, or responded in any way to give them permission for anything. I have now received a bill in the mail for 6.60 hours of work for $2607.00. I don't see how it is ethical that they bill me for work that I never agreed to (verbally or by sending back the agreement), and I never even sent them any documentation they would need to do the work?? What is my recourse? Should I contact them via email and ask why, or should I file a complaint with the state bar? Can they legally bill me for work which I never asked to be completed (and they could not have done it without my paperwork and details??) I think maybe the attorney was just upset that I never responded to the agreement or sent the documents they requested to proceed. I did not respond simply because I did not want to have them do the work.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You should not be responsible for any fees if you did not contract with them for the work. Send them a letter saying you have no intention of paying their bill because you did not retain them and there is no contract evidencing retention. You may wish to tell them that if they pursue this, you will file a complaint with the State Bar of California.