Legal malpractice can come in many different forms. Some are subtler than others, but all have the potential to add complications to your case and personal life. Common ways you could be a victim of legal malpractice can include planning errors, failure to properly apply the law, inadequate work and conflict of interest.
Nobody wants to be charged fees that exceed the quantity or quality of the services received. It can be an unethical practice for any business. Attorneys often are put under the stereotype of charging clients for as much as possible to get the most money. While this is not true for every attorney in existence, there have been many who were caught and charged for crossing the line.
Many clients often accept the fact that they could be charged a few fees that might not make sense or for more than what the service was worth. Attorneys can be expensive. However, there is a line between ethical fees and overbilling.
- Incorrect air fare reimbursement. An example would be purchasing a plane ticket in coach but requesting reimbursement for first class.
- Too many hours. Clients have been billed for an amount of hours that would have been impossible to actually work. Being charged for time that exceeds the number of hours within that time period is a red flag.
- Inefficiency and negligence. A bill may include services that were done poorly or not at all.
- Building fees. Some lawyers have been caught charging their clients extra fees that went towards utilities such as the building's air conditioning.
Overbilling can be considered theft and fraud. This past July, four attorneys who worked for the state of Iowa were found guilty of this. False and suspicious claims along with excessive billing were found in state audits from 2013 and 2014. These attorneys had billed the state an unnecessary $500,000 for their work.
It may be difficult for you to trust your attorney, or any attorney, if you believe he or she is overbilling you. Having a conversation about the bill could clear some of the confusion if it was a case of forgetting to take off a regular charge or other technical error that could easily be fixed. If this is not the case, you may be able to dispute the charges. While working with a lawyer may be the last thing you want to do, finding one who is skilled in legal malpractice may help you rectify your situation.