My question involves malpractice by a lawyer in the state of: New York
I owned a business that had a shareholder agreement issue. The shareholder was demading a certain percentage of the location but did nothing and the legal documentation of the store claimed she did not have any percentage. I hired a lawyer to fix this case but he was slow in contacting me and therefore I hired another lawyer. We signed an agreement for around $40,000. It was similar to a retainer fee but it also included all the work he was going to do. I paid off this debt but in the end he did not do anything. He continued on "working" by talking to various people and asking me for documents after documents. Eventually he charged me around $70,000to continue. This is when I told him I did not want his services anymore.
He later insists that I pay him around $60,000 because of the services he "completed." We did not sign any agreement regarding this amount and he did not even complete anything. The case regarding the shareholder is still in the courts being processed. He claims, however, that he spoke to various people and did his job because of the documents he reviewed.
Recently I received a summons from his law office stating that I must appear in court regarding this matter or I could apply for arbitration. Unfortunately this lawyer was also working with his brother on the case and therefore they are both suing me. Addressed in the summons was my business that had the shareholder problem but has been recently closed down due to insufficient funds, my other business, and myself. I am not a wealthy man and these are small mom-and-pop locations. My ex-lawyer is demanding money that he does not deserve. How can I rectify this situation without wasting more money on legal fees with another lawyer for this case? Is arbitration a more sound reasoning? And if so, how would I go about arbitation in New York. Also is his claim justified? What can I do in this situation to not pay him this huge outstanding balance that he claims he deserves?