Probizwriters, LLC Writing Portfolio - Persuasive Settlement Offer / Lawyer's Fees

Written on behalf of a party attempting to settle a claim against her for lawyer's fees. Outcome: offer accepted and fee claim dismissed.

I write regarding A.W.’s complaint for allegedly unpaid legal fees in connection with my recent divorce proceeding, and the prospect of amicably settling this matter without further and unnecessary conflict.

Below are my comments on the charges claimed and an offer to resolve this case.

As you know, A.W. undertook the responsibilities of representing me as my attorney in my divorce case from December 7, 2007 until her untimely withdrawal in October 15, 2008.

(A) In Count #1, item #2 A.W. claims she “fully performed all the terms of said attorney-client employment contract.” This is false. In fact, A.W. abruptly withdrew as my attorney, without sufficient or reasonable cause, through her October 15, 2008 withdrawal letter. Occurring as it did close to the end of the divorce process, her withdrawal came as a complete surprise to me, and left me in a terrible position vis-à-vis continuing legal representation in my divorce proceeding; it exposed me to unnecessary risks and costs, and compromised my ability to timely and effectively secure alternate representation. Worse, A.W. did not offer any assistance in easing my transition to alternate counsel, despite her understanding that I didn’t have the resources or time to educate alternate counsel at that late date. I was, essentially, and inappropriately, left stranded in the legal system to fend for myself.

As a consequence of A.W.’s inappropriate and untimely withdrawal, I was unable to secure a fair and balanced settlement in the divorce proceeding, and lost benefits that I would otherwise have attained. This has compromised my financial position.

(B) In Count #2, item #7 A.W. claims “[Defendant] deliberately lied and misrepresented her intentions…” The assertion of this claim is also false, without merit, and probably rises to an abuse of process.

(C) A.W. completely mishandled the matter of my working with my Father’s money-losing business without compensation insofar as it was or was not an issue in the divorce proceeding. I was not an owner of that business and did not have a viable claim against it, and in fact had a substantial personal financial loss due to the businesses’ closure. At minimum, A.W. failed to properly explain to me the basis for any such inquiry, or the need to compromise my relationship with my father by requesting records that I did not have the authority to produce, or the need to subpoena any of my father’s business records, or how such records would be used in my divorce proceeding, or why it was legally necessary or appropriate to interfere with my father’s business, or what the divorce issue was that required such invasiveness, or why we couldn’t have defended against or avoided such an inquiry. Rather than properly explain this matter, explore strategic alternatives, or defend against the inquiry, A.W. inexplicably chose to abruptly withdraw and leave me legally stranded.

It was adverse to my interests for any inquiry regarding the assets of my father’s business to occur, since I was not an owner of the business. This inquiry was inappropriate, especially since I was not in a position to comply, and could have been avoided. My objection to the inquiry was an insufficient basis for A.W.’s untimely withdrawal.

(D) Given the poor outcome of A.W.’s representation, and the affect of her untimely withdrawal, in this case, her fees and hourly rate are unjustifiable and unreasonable, and won’t withstand the scrutiny of an alternate review. Despite the fee agreement, which I signed in good faith never imagining that my counsel would leave me unprotected, the value and caliber of services provided does not match the amount charged, hours allegedly invested, or claimed.

In view of the above comments and observations, I don’t believe A.W. has earned or is entitled to the fees she claims are due. In fact, I believe A.W.’s handling of my legal matter was insufficient and caused me to suffer damage. I am in the process of conducting a review with advisors to ascertain whether A.W.’s conduct in withdrawing as counsel, leaving me stranded, and otherwise not properly advocating for my legal interests constitute violations of applicable ethical considerations or disciplinary rules administered by the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Counsel.

As a single mother of two children, I now must face all these obligations with my meager current resources. I do not (can’t and won’t) look to my immediate family to fulfill my obligations. Suggestions that I do so are highly inappropriate. It is a tough environment in today’s economy to acquire a position that will help me resolve all my obligations. Despite pursuing multiple job opportunities over the last several years, the fact is that, until very recently, I was unemployed. I am now only barely able to provide a suitable living environment for my family. As a consequence of all these circumstances I am also presently reviewing the appropriateness of filing a personal bankruptcy to get back on my feet financially.

That said, the hard fact is that I wish to resolve and settle all my obligations in a fair and respectful manner, and avoid filing a Chapter or the aggravation of filing a complaint before the Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel.

Settlement Offer: To settle this case I make the following offer. I already paid A.W. $3,000. I am prepared to pay an additional $1,000 immediately in full settlement of this matter. With this settlement payment A.W. will have been paid a total of $4,000 for the 24.7 hours of legal service she invoiced in the matter of my divorce representation. $4,000 is quite fair and reasonable for one-half a week’s work, especially given the poor outcome in that divorce proceeding.

I urge you to accept this offer so that we may all avoid the expenditure of additional time and resources to manage this unfortunate conflict. Should A.W. accept this settlement offer, please notify me and I will deliver payment.


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Effective / Revision Date: 1-1-2013

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