Ottawa Divorce .com Forums


User CP

New posts

Advertising

  Ottawa Divorce .com Forums > Main Category > Divorce & Family Law

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

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 11-15-2010, 09:06 AM
Hephzibah Hephzibah is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
Hephzibah is on a distinguished road
Default Questions on my lawyer

HISTORY:
My lawyer and I had a disagreement. I'd told her to ask for a specific amount for spousal and when we went to the ninth hearing, she asked for 2/3 of the amount I'd requested (and was eventually awarded as indefinite spousal support). She did not tell me before hand that she wouldn't follow my directions. Because of my telling her afterwards that I was angry about it; she was going to fire me. Then when we went to the tenth hearing - she was there and got a trial date set. (I didn't know she's already fired me as a client)

She told me that I'd have to represent myself. Since I never got a copy of the order that she'd fired me; I figured she was just blowing steam about a long, involved case where my self-represented ex refused to cooperate or even show up half the time at hearings.

SPEED:
There were 8 documents she filed. From the time the judge made the order until the time she actually got them typed up and filed in the court was an average of 113 days. It took her over 3 months from the time the marital home sold until she gave me my portion of the money although the order said I should get the money immediately.

MONEY:
I told her when we got to $8K for her fees, that I was going to stop and just live on my interim spousal support. By then the home had sold, we had the divorce but no separation agreement - so I would have been out less then $10K of equalization payments for assets ex kept. I would ask her after every court appearance and she said we still had a ways to go to get to the $8K. When the house sold, she kept $16,555 for her fees! I was stunned. She will not give me an itemized invoice for this.

OTHER STUFF:
The judge had ordered ex to pay most of a credit card bill but that $1K was in dispute and would be settled in the settlement agreement. She took it out of his home proceeds anyway. When the court evicted him, he asked for one day extra - she e-mailed him that the only way I'd let him stay the extra day was to give me a ring appraised at $1,500... I did not know she did that and feel it was wrong of her to make that determination on her own. The court ordered me to pay the house payments after the eviction and she did not deduct that from his portion.

THE TRIAL:
Four days (two working and two weekend), she e-mailed to see if I needed any documents to represent myself at trial. This was the first I knew she really wasn't going to represent me. She refused to give me some of the documents I requested. Two days before the trial she e-mailed me a paper that should have been filed with the court a week before saying I was representing myself. In that e-mail she said I should have had my stuff to the court a week prior to trial and the judge may postpone the trial because I didn't do that. I was up until 4AM for 4 days compiling documentation in triplicate.

After the trial my ex gave me a document that my lawyer had process served him - in that document dated in early August, she had fired herself as my lawyer. I never did get a copy of that document and went to trial in early November.

I think I got a better settlement than I would have had she represented me. I also feel that I was able to redress the wrongs against my ex that she did. I wanted a good settlement; but I wanted a fair settlement not an underhanded one.

What options do I have? Try to I talk to her? Hire a taxing master to dispute her bill? Talk to another lawyer about turning this into a big case? Go to the law society? I was so excited to finally be done with court after 28 months of appearances; and then to discover she'd pulled such underhanded tricks really discouraged me.

Thanks,

Hephzibah
  #2  
Old 11-15-2010, 09:46 AM
Mess Mess is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Toronto
Posts: 5,448
Mess is a jewel in the roughMess is a jewel in the roughMess is a jewel in the roughMess is a jewel in the rough
Default

You need be clear about what she may have said to you in person, and what she presented to you in writing. However if someone says that they are no longer going to be working for you, then they have informed you. If you made an assumption about "blowing off steam" that is your error, not hers.

I can only guess, but I believe from your description she asked for 2/3 the amount because that was a "reasonable" offer in the eyes of the courts, if asked for more and didn't get it, then you would have to pay costs. It is fairly standard to make a lower offer. I expect she had her reasons, but there was poor communication between you.

She MUST provide you with a clear itemized bill and you may complain to the Law Society if she does not.

If you did not want her to over $8000 in billing you needed to put that in writing. A verbal instruction will have some weight, but this will be your word against hers. Not that either of you is lieing, but that you didn't understand each other properly. Did you say something and it slipped her mind? Did she say something and it slipped your mind? How can you say which is which? However she should have been providing you with a monthly invoice showing how much you were spending.

You file belongs to you, all of it. She may hold on to it if your bill is unpaid, but you can dispute this if you have a court date pending. From your description you are paid in full, she has withheld the full amount from the house sale. So she seems to have no problem.

Your option would be to file a complaint at the Law Society, but if you do keep in mind the points I made here. The biggest complaint you have is if she is not releasing your file to you, and she should be providing you with a detailed bill.
  #3  
Old 11-15-2010, 10:21 AM
Hephzibah Hephzibah is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
Hephzibah is on a distinguished road
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mess View Post
if someone says that they are no longer going to be working for you, then they have informed you. If you made an assumption about "blowing off steam" that is your error, not hers.
She e-mailed me on July 7 that she was not going to represent me. She went to hearing with me on August 3. Thus, I thought she was still my lawyer and we'd worked through the glitch. She hadn't given me a copy of the order, so I had no idea she wasn't on my side any more.

Quote:
I can only guess, but I believe from your description she asked for 2/3 the amount because that was a "reasonable" offer in the eyes of the courts, if asked for more and didn't get it, then you would have to pay costs. It is fairly standard to make a lower offer. I expect she had her reasons, but there was poor communication between you.
From what I'd researched, I was eligible for $600 to $1000 a month and I wanted to ask for $800. She said I'd be lucky to keep the $575 I'd been getting for interim, and wanted to ask for $425. The judge not only awarded me the $800 per month but back spousal to bring the $575 up to $800. Thus, it sounds like what I was asking for was fair. Costs wouldn't have been a big issue since ex was representing himself; and the judge awarded 50% of her bill as costs that ex had to pay.

Quote:
She MUST provide you with a clear itemized bill and you may complain to the Law Society if she does not.
I doubt if that will happen. It seems like there's a "good-ol'-boys" attitude in this location.

Quote:
However she should have been providing you with a monthly invoice showing how much you were spending.
I can't prove I said stop at $8K; however, I can show e-mails repeatedly asking for updates on what my invoice was and she has never given one.

Quote:
You file belongs to you, all of it. She may hold on to it if your bill is unpaid, but you can dispute this if you have a court date pending. From your description you are paid in full, she has withheld the full amount from the house sale. So she seems to have no problem.
She told me on July 7 that she'd prep the file to give me. I asked for it several times and some by e-mail and she refused to give me the file. She was willing to give me the half dozen or so documents I could recall that I'd need.... and she didn't come through with half of them.

Quote:
Your option would be to file a complaint at the Law Society, but if you do keep in mind the points I made here. The biggest complaint you have is if she is not releasing your file to you, and she should be providing you with a detailed bill.
Since this matter is already settled, then I don't see how the Law Society can help retroactive. What can the law society do - even if they find her negligent.

At the first hearing, the judge told her the way she had handled the case was unconscionable. Guess that should have been a signal to me to fire her.

Is there anything illegal of her waiting from 43 to 242 days between an order being given by the judge and her filing it? That's easy to document since both dates are on the first page of each order.

Thank you for your help.

Hephzibah
  #4  
Old 11-15-2010, 11:21 AM
NBDad's Avatar
NBDad NBDad is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: New Brunswick
Posts: 2,734
NBDad is on a distinguished road
Default

The Law Society would force her to provide you a clearly itemized bill, and to release the contents of the file to you at a minimum.


See http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=644 for the complaints process.

You should send her a formal request for those items, via registered letter (signature required) and give her 30 days to provide those items.

Not informing you of her withdrawing from the case is also a no-no, she isn't allowed simply to drop you, she has to go through the proper procedure, and if she didn't formally notify you, then she screwed it up.

The Law Society can sanction her, they can force her to under go mentoring with a more experienced lawyer (and for some of the lawyer who have been practicing a while, being forced to comply with THAT is worse than any monetary fines).

They can fine her, they can disbar her (which basically means she can no longer practice law in the province) and/or they can force a review of the bill.
Closed Thread


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
help - did I screw up again - Just trying to get a lawyer! ddol1 Divorce & Family Law 8 08-30-2011 11:05 PM
Questions for lawyer... Greyghost Divorce & Family Law 6 10-19-2010 10:24 PM
questions to ask lawyer cyto84 Divorce & Family Law 18 06-02-2010 07:42 PM
Ditching Lawyer to Represent Myself Rhonda&Kids Divorce & Family Law 8 02-28-2010 12:33 PM
Lawyer out of town? What to do? Edward Divorce & Family Law 2 10-20-2009 08:46 AM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:40 AM.