Will I have a chance to settle with an attorney for my debt before it gets filed in court?

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Will I have a chance to settle with an attorney for my debt before it gets filed in court?

I moved out of my apartment 5 months ago due to the loss of my job. I have just started working now but my debt for the apartment (last months rent due to returned check and damages) is too old and is now being sent to an attorney. Will I be able to talk with this attorney and possibly settle before it is filed?

Asked on December 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you absolutely have the right to contact the attorney and try to settle the debt either prior to a lawsuit being filed--or indeed, even after one is filed (you can settle at any point before a judgment is rendered). If the attorney is being uncooperative, you could contact the landlord directly as well (if you had an attorney, under the ethical rules, he/she could only talk to the landlord's lawyer; but nothing stops you personally from contacting the landlord).

However, nothing compels the attorney or his client to enter into settlement discussions, or if they do, to work out something which is acceptable to you; settlement is purely voluntary. So you can try; but whether they will be receptive depends on how much you owe, your prior relationship/discussions with them, and even their personalities--some people refuse to ever settle or compromise, for example, and they have that right.


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