Can I file a police report against my former attorney for stealing my money?

UPDATED: Feb 4, 2014

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Can I file a police report against my former attorney for stealing my money?

I hired my lawyer to handle a case for me that was settled,except for the bills he was supposed to handle for which he kept $15,000 of my settlement. However, after he got his cut from the settlement, he basically stopped working on my case. I sent a certified letter to his office firing him and asking for my file and my money. Yet, he hasn’t even acknowledged that I fired him. The day of the firing he called me so I know that he got the letter. He then refused for 4 months to return my phone calls, although once in a while he would return an email but that’s it. Then he called out of the blue?

Asked on February 4, 2014 under Business Law, West Virginia


Gregory Abbott / Consumer Law Northwest

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Nothing in your post supports criminal theft charges.  You may, however, have claims against the attorney and while it is unclear what work he specifically did for you, he is not allowed to charge you clearly excessive fees for the work actually done (even if you have a fee agreement purportedly allowing his fees).  You may also have claims against him for ignoring your case and/or for failing to timely return your file and/or settlement proceeds.  If he kept settlement proceeds belonging to you, see another local attorney about suing the first attorney.  If you think he has charged you clearly excessive fees or not returned your file, etc., consider filing a complaint with your local State Bar Association.  They have the power to investigate and/or discipline (up to and including suspension or revocation of his license to practice law) the attorney.  If after investigation the Bar ethics Counsel feels there is a case for violation of the ethical rules governing attorneys, they will follow up at their expense instead of your's.  They might even get him to return some of the money.  Good luck.

Greg Abbott

Consumer Law Northwest

Portland, OR.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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