ARDC Claims Legal Fee Was Unreasonable
One portion of the allegations against this lawyer concern an unreasonable fee. The lawyer represented an 84 year old woman who lived in a retirement community. The lawyer prepared routine estate planning documents and charged her $2500, which was paid. The next several paragraphs of the complaint allege as follows:
“6. Between November 21, 2009 and January 23, 2010, Respondent did no additional work for Mrs. Meyer. In January, 2010, Respondent presented Mrs. Meyer with a statement which described the services rendered as: “Will Review/Possible Changes, Power of Attorney; General, Power of Attorney; Health Care, Review of Stock Portfolio Fidelity Investments, Review of Other Financial documents, Bank Accounts, Etc., Travel to Peace Village, 11-10-2009 and 11-17-2009,” the exact services set forth in the November 18, 2009 statement. Respondent merely added the date of January 23, 2010 and inserted the words “Retainer Fee for 2010.” The amount of the statement was $25,000.
7. Respondent did not render any professional services to Mrs. Meyer after January 23, 2010, as described in his January 2010 statement. Moreover, Respondent had no reasonable basis to believe that he could possibly perform $25,000 work of work for Mrs. Meyer, as described in his January 2010 statement or otherwise.
8. At the time that Respondent presented Mrs. Meyer with the January 23, 2010 statement, he was experiencing severe financial difficulties, a fact that he had not disclosed to Mrs. Meyer.
9. In January, 2010, after receiving the January 23, 2010 statement, Mrs. Meyer tendered a cashier’s check for $25,000 to Respondent.
10. As of the date of filing this complaint, Respondent has not refunded any of the purported $25,000 retainer fee to Mrs. Meyer.”
Comment: obviously the size of the fee and the nature of the client strengthen the ARDC’s case. Be mindful that: the ARDC complaint contains allegations at this point, which have not been proven. This illustrates the ARDC’s concern that some lawyers may be taking advantage of elderly clients.
Edward X. Clinton, Jr.