Legal Question in Legal Ethics in Texas

I retained an attorney and paid him his fee for a jury trial for a divorce. We did not go to trial with jury because we agreed with a rule 11 agreement. MY lawyer did nothing to draft the final and let husband's attorney do it. I disagreed with the wording as it gave him more than the original agreement. For example; original said "husband gets his bank accounts". Final said "husband gets all cash on hand". Instead of my attorney arguing this with husband's attorney he would just send her what I sent him. He even sent a copy so I could see that was all the work he did for me.

I disagreed with the wording mainly due to my having proof husband had hidden cash not divided with the agreement and felt the judge should rule on that cash separately. There were lots of things missing from the final that they had agreed to on the original as well and my attorney told me to shut up and sign if I wanted the house. From my insistence they changed and added some but others were ignored and his attorney just said it was "proper language to effectuate the terms" when they actually changed the terms.

We finally went to what my attorney called a prove up hearing at which, instead of arguing the case to the judge, my attorney and husband's attorney's "blackmailed" me into agreeing to change the bogus final even further from the rule 11 we already had claiming that the judge could throw out the agreement which stated my ex was giving me his separate property home if we took the issues before him. The rule 11 had been drafted by my husband of his own free will and his attorney to stay away from a jury trial. The original agreement stated no time for performance regarding my getting a vehicle he allowed me to have for getting it out of husbands name. It just stated that he would sign a quit claim deed to me, that I had to put it in my name, and be responsible for the payments. It said nothing about what would happen if I was unable to obtain financing for it....which I can't.

So in this side room they all ganged up on me and blackmailed me into agreeing to their changes so I didn't lose the house. This also kept my attorney from EVER having to do what I had already paid him to do. He did absolutely NOTHING to help me get what I did get. Didn't do any preliminary work at all for trial. No dispositions. No subpoenas. No nothing.

I have asked for an itemized bill since he did not offer me any refund and have received nothing. In the meantime my ex is/ was late making an agreed upon payment to me and I called my lawyer about filing contempt charges. He sent me another of his famous two line memos stating he was too busy to do it and gave me another lawyer's name when he knows full well I'd have to come up with another retainer he knows full well I don't have. He also knows I have a daughter with a potentially fatal illness. This guy is all heart. I NEVER felt like I had any attorney and once I borrowed the money from family to hire him I was stuck with him.

My question......what can I do about this attorney as I feel he still owes me a refund since we did not go to trial? Yes, we went to a hearing but there was no trial where he fought for me before the judge. He had instead joined them against me in coercing and blackmailing me.

Asked on 6/15/12, 11:55 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Mark Dunn Mark D. Dunn

Write your lawyer a letter (a paper letter - no phone calls or emails) and ask him for a refund of the unearned retainer, since you paid for a jury trial but didn't need one. Ask for a detailed accounting of how he has earned the money he says he's earned so far. Put a date on the letter. Keep a copy. Give him a time deadline (two weeks out to do it).

If he doesn't respond, report him to the State Bar of Texas. Their toll-free number is 1-800-932-1900.

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Answered on 6/16/12, 10:35 am

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