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Legal Malpractice: What Attorney Billing Practices Have Been Ruled Illegal By California Courts?

Did you know that Americans spend over $100 billion in legal fees every year? If this figure does not tell you much, that’s how much Instagram is worth. Do not get me wrong, the vast majority of these attorney fees are collected by lawyers dedicated to their work. They work day and night to earn the fees and provide their most valuable services to clients and represent them in and out of court.

That isn’t to say that many of these fees go into the pockets of unscrupulous, fraudulent, unfair and incompetent attorneys who overbill and double-bill their clients, violate ethical and legal standards, and engage in a variety of dishonest and illegal practices to rip off their clients.

Do You Believe that Legal Malpractice Has Occurred?

Do you believe that your lawyer engaged in one of those dishonest and illegal practices and may be held liable under the theory of legal malpractice in California? Do not hesitate to schedule a free case evaluation with our San Diego legal malpractice attorney at the Law Office of Edward J. Babbitt, APC.

I know what you are thinking. “Wait, seriously? I have just been ripped off by a lawyer, and you want me to risk it all again and get a new one?” But here is something you need to consider.

Does It Even Make Any Sense to Sue Your Lawyer for Legal Malpractice?

Are you really prepared to fight your lawyer at a time when you are dependent on his or her services to represent your interests in an ongoing legal matter? A lawyer is the last person you want to be enemies with, because without being legally represented, filing a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer may do more harm than good.

After all, your lawyer has superior knowledge about the legal system and can read you like an open book. He or she knows exactly what you are going to tell the judge, and he/she has multiple legal strategies to fight against your attempts to win the billing dispute. Your dishonest lawyer is prepared for any scenario.

What Attorney Billion Practices Are Illegal?

If you are considering filing a legal malpractice claim against your lawyer, do know that you are not the first person to do so. And this is good news, because there are certain attorney billion practices that have been invalidated by federal and state courts in California over the past years and decades.

Let’s review some of these invalidated billing methods:

  1. Administrative charges and clerical services. Many attorneys get away with this, but if you are smart, you will not let them off the hook. Unless an agreement between you and your lawyer says so, your attorney does not have a right to charge you for non-legal personnel such as photocopy operators, secretaries, or services such as word processing, copying, filing, and others. Clerical tasks are not legal tasks and should not be billed as such.

  2. Hourly billing for calls discussing bills. If you call your attorney to discuss your bill and then you notice that your attorney charges you for this call on your next bill, it’s a clear indication that your lawyer is trying to overbill you.

  3. Bills that do not show the services provided. If your lawyer bills you by the hour, you have a right to request a bill detailing the full list of services provided during a specified period to know what and when your lawyer was doing.

  4. Unreasonable amount of time to complete a task. If your lawyer has taken an unreasonably long amount of time to complete a simple tasks, and charged you for it by the hour, it is probably because he or she is trying to rip you off. To find out how much time it takes, on average, for a lawyer to complete a certain task, consult with an experienced legal malpractice attorney in San Diego.

  5. Double-billing. This illegal practice occurs when a lawyer is trying to bill two or more clients for the same effort.

  6. Hourly rate increases without permission and warning.

  7. Time spent on training lawyers in a certain field of law to work on your case.

If you decide to start a billing dispute against your lawyer in the middle of an ongoing legal matter, do know that your lawyer will most likely not have a right to quit representing you because of a fee dispute. Consult with our San Diego legal malpractice attorney at the Law Office of Edward J. Babbitt, APC., to find out more. Call at 619-543-1789 for a free case evaluation.