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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    22

    Default When is a Client Entitled to a Refund of Legal Retainer

    My question relates to legal practice in the state of: california

    My son retained a family law attorney for an upcoming court date.
    He paid 2500 retainer. The attorney said he would appear in court for my son on the date.
    I assume he would, that's why he hired him, for legal representation, especially in court.
    Anyway, I check the minutes for the date, and it indicated that his wife's attorney was present but my son's attorney was not.
    Does my son have recourse to ask for his retainer to refunded or returned based on the attorney's negligence etc?, and if attorney refuses to take it up with the calif bar association as a complaint?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,657

    Default Re: Am I Entitled to a Refund of Retainer

    You son needs to ask his attorney why he did not show. If your son suffered any consequences due to the attorney's failure to show, he needs to ask the attorney how they intend to make it right. Your son can then ask the attorney for a refund of the retainer but without reading the full agreement, I cannot say how much luck he'll have.

    Your son also needs to consider making arrangements to be at any required court dates in the future, just in case.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,429

    Default Re: Am I Entitled to a Refund of Retainer

    Quote Quoting jeffdickey
    View Post
    Does my son have recourse to ask for his retainer to refunded or returned based on the attorney's negligence etc?, and if attorney refuses to take it up with the calif bar association as a complaint?
    The first thing your son should ask the lawyer is why the attorney was not there. The reason matters, as does what the lawyer plans to do about it. But if your son wants to fire the attorney regardless, he may do that and the attorney must return to your son all the retainer that has not yet been earned.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Am I Entitled to a Refund of Retainer

    at the time of the initial consultation, the attorney said he would he appear in court on behalf of my son, because he had other appearances scheduled at that court during that time interval. So the attorney said he would be there, but was not. Isn't that enough for a basis of refund of retainer?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1,732

    Default Re: Am I Entitled to a Refund of Retainer

    Quote Quoting jeffdickey
    View Post
    Does my son have recourse to ask for his retainer to refunded or returned based on the attorney's negligence etc?, and if attorney refuses to take it up with the calif bar association as a complaint?
    Your post reads a bit oddly since this apparently has nothing to do with you. I'm also not sure what "recourse to ask" means.

    You wrote that your son retained the attorney "for an upcoming court date" and that he "paid [a] [$]2500 retainer." Did he really hire the attorney exclusively for the single court date, or was the scope of representation broader than that? What was the purpose of the "court date" in question (since, in any given case, there may be many "court dates")? Is this a dissolution (divorce) case or something else? Did your son and the attorney sign a written retainer agreement (by law, the attorney was required to document the agreement in writing)? If so, what does the agreement say about the refund of any unused portion of the $2,500? In most cases in non-criminal matters, a "retainer" paid to an attorney cannot be non-refundable.

    Obviously, your son is free "to ask for his retainer to [be] refunded or returned" (hard to believe you or he would need someone on the internet to confirm that). Has your son called the attorney to find out why he didn't show up? If not, that's the obvious first thing to do and your son can ask about the return of the "retainer" at that time.

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