There are laws that govern the fees attorneys may bill clients here in New Jersey. Among these is that all fees must be reasonable, and clients are entitled to a hearing regarding the reasonableness of attorney's fees. In some cases, attorneys do wrongly bill clients--perhaps by charging exorbitant rates or double-billing. In such cases, clients may be wise to contact an attorney's fees professional.
In many cases, fee disputes may be the result of honest mistakes, but some cases do involve lawyers who have become greedy or have chosen to engage in self-dealing. In a recent case, an attorney reportedly had an affair with one of his clients--and he billed her for it.
The case took place in Minnesota where a lawyer allegedly began a sexual relationship with a client he was representing in a divorce case. He reportedly billed her for their sexual encounters, and misappropriated the billing lines as "meetings" or time spent "drafting memos."
The woman, who was reportedly in a vulnerable state, attempted suicide when the lawyer ended their relationship. She then disclosed the affair while she was hospitalized.
The lawyer has admitted to the accusations, and he will no longer be allowed to practice law, according to the Minnesota Supreme Court. He has been suspended indefinitely.
While what has happened here is not common, this does illustrate that in some cases, lawyers do not have their client's best interests front and center. When self-dealing, failure to know the law, or fee disputes arise, it is important for clients to contact legal malpractice professionals to learn how to recover damages and hold their lawyers accountable.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Lawyer Suspended for Billing Mistress-Client," Jeff D. Gorman, Jan. 21, 2013
- Our New Jersey law firm handles legal malpractice cases as well as fee disputes. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Attorney Fee Litigation page.