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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-08-2015, 09:51 AM
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Default Lawyer - Holding File Hostage

Apologize for the dramatic title, looking for views. Also, looked elsewhere and can't find this.

Releasing lawyer 3, retaining number 4. Two years, $20,000 and I'm in exactly the same spot as I started, all around s7 issues.

I have paid my final bill in full and requested a copy of my file be sent to the new lawyer. This was in a signed, witnessed release which they acknowledged. He has now claimed I cannot have copies of anything he's done in past two years unless I pay 25 cents per page. This for work I have paid 600/hr for already, and which I fully expect is already in the file. There were plenty of disbursement sat the same rate on each bill.

He's also insisting I drive in and pick up file (2hours from my house) in spite of acknowledged release being to send to new lawyer.

I have argued with his staff and he is now demanding I call and talk with him in person - this so he can bluster and loudly talk down to me as he happily did at 600/hr in past, to point I had to constantly cut him off.

Have had success with filing complaint against lawyer 2 (called her bluff and pushed it to the point she gave money back vs waste her time at hearing). The nature of issues here it's not worth going that route IMO.

Just wondering if I have anything to stand on aside from common sense and human decency (lost on most lawyers).... I mean 20 grand with no progress at ALL (I frequently devised strategy and wrote documents myself) and now you want to massively overcharge me for 3$ worth of paper?
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Old 07-08-2015, 12:13 PM
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Most lawyers have a standard fee for copying materials. This fee would include not only the cost of paper but the time a staff member takes to copy it all/print it, which can take a long time depending on the amount of materials.

Options to consider that lawyer #3 may agree to:

1) Request to go in and review your file. Download a scan Ap like Genius scan that makes PDFs from a photo of docs and copy them yourself.

2) Some lawyers send their clients a copy of any communications, like through email. If this occurred in your case; print it all out and hand it over to lawyer #4.

3) pay the 25 cents/page if option 1 or 2 isn't feasible.
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Old 07-08-2015, 12:51 PM
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Use this:

Guide to Retention and Destruction of Closed Client Files, For Lawyers - Appendix 2 | The Law Society of Upper Canada

The lawyer is entitled to keep certain documents, as they belong to the lawyer. Should you require a copy of those documents, you would have to pay for them. But everything else is yours.

I would (have your new lawyer?? if you want to incur the cost) send your old lawyer a letter requesting the documents which belong to you per the Law Society's guidelines. That if they want to make copies of those documents, they may do so at their own expense. For all documents which belong to the lawyer, you will pay the $0.25 for. However all of the documents that belong to you should in a separate package so that you are able to easily ascertain which documents the lawyer has taken the position belongs to them.

Essentially, you are telling them they have to give you what belongs to you and want copies of what belongs to them. That it is up to them to waste their time filtering through the file to figure out whose is whose. That may give them pause that you know you are entitled to a good chunk of the documents without cost, and if they should likely do a cost/benefit analysis on whether it is worth it to even attempt to figure it out.
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Old 07-08-2015, 02:04 PM
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I really like OhMy's recommendation of ScanSnap. My boss has one of those and they are really quite slick and scan things quickly. Can you offer to attend at their office, with your own little ScanSnap in hand and sit in a conference room and simply scan your file?

Yes they have to give you your file (as outlined by HammerDad above). Sounds as though you are no amateur when it comes to challenging lawyers so you do know that you also may suggest, if they are unreasonable, to have their bill assessed (lawyers absolutely HATE that) and the matter decided in court.

Other should sit up and take notice of this - ALWAYS have your lawyer email/fax/mail everything to do with your file - all incoming/outgoing correspondence and all Orders. When you retain a lawyer you should make it very clear that this is a condition of retaining them - put it in writing. It costs little to nothing to cc you on everything.

Last edited by arabian; 07-08-2015 at 02:06 PM.
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