The most common complaint I receive are about certain divorce attorneys who overpromise, underperform, and overcharge. There are several well-known attorneys in Rockville, Bethesda, and Greenbelt who tell their clients that every dollar they spend on their divorce will result in a positive return on their investment. These attorneys also tell their clients that the court will award them attorney’s fees.
These attorneys then over-litigate every possible issue and spend tens of thousands of dollars on unnecessary consultants and expert witnesses. Before the client realizes that his or her attorney is churning the file, the attorney has run up a $100,000 bill.
The attorney then tells the client not to settle the case, because there is a possibility that the court will order the spouse to pay some or all of his or her attorney’s fees. The client then is charged another $50,000 for trial preparation and for the trial. Of course, the court does not award attorney’s fees, because the spouse had litigated the case with substantial justification
and/or the client has adequate resources to pay his or her own attorney.
The final act of the tragedy is when the attorney sues his or her former client for the unpaid attorney’s fees. This is when the former client calls me for advice.
Practice pointer for clients: There is a simple and surefire way to determine if your divorce attorney will overcharge you. Use the Maryland Judiciary Case Search docket to determine how many times your divorce attorney and/or the law firm has sued former clients for non-payment of fees at http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/processDisclaimer.jis