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Did My Family Law Attorney Charge Too Much?

Attorney fees are a very touchy subject and hopefully paid pursuant to agreement. The problem seems to come about when the unexpected bill for fees arrives. How does the consumer know the bill is correct, fair, or competitive.

In California all fees over $1,000 are required to be based upon a written understanding. Also, all attorney fee disputes are subject to resolution  – a requirement that the attorney first offer to resolve the dispute in binding arbitration before a state or local bar association. The determination on arbitration is binding on the attorney, but not the client. Under no circumstances will the courts condone unreasonable attorney fees.

Now comes the rub. How much is your attorney reasonably worth? Well if based on a contract that calls for hourly billing: The time and charges must be reasonably correct remembering many attorneys calculate their bills differently. You may want to inquire if they bill for: secretarial,postage,phone bills,actual time or the reasonable time. These are all factors. Some firms not only bill for costs, but even add on an additional amount for processing the cost such as 20%. Fees will vary and as such the consumer is wise to ask to look at a sample bill with the names and other confidential information  blocked out so they can judge for their selves how a particular office applies the terms of the written agreement. In the alternative, they could ask a former client about the amount of fees he or she paid.
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