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Disputed Attorney's Fees


Otrgypsy

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I was 'represented" for 4 years by a scum bag that I eventually learned was just babysitting my claim number hoping for easy money. When I learned what incompetent scum he was I chased him off and filed a very well documented claim with the General Counsel's Office. It I know it would have caused not just investigation if I had filed it in California, he certainly would have been disciplined.

A couple month's ago they awarded me 40% on a peripheral issue and gave me my back pay without taking anything out for fees. It is clear in the file, I have done a ton of work and the scum bag did almost nothing.

DOES THIS REPRESENT A DETERMINATION THAT HE WILL NOT BE PAID??  Or might they be waiting to make a determination on fees when the final award is issued?

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If they have given you the full amount then they attorney is not getting paid by the VA.  They would have deducted any payments due your attorney before giving you back pay.

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I can certainly understand not wanting to pay your attorney, if you were dis satisfied with his work. 

However, your attorney "probably does not" send you a copy of every document he sends to VA for you.  In my experience, they do much more than we see..we dont hang around in the attorneys office, generally. 

   It sounds like you won your claim.  Likely, the fee agreement was all about "performance", that is, did you win.  Remember, if this was at THE CAVC, probably EAJA will pay the fees and you will likely owe nothing.  If it was at the BVA, as far as I know, eaja does not pay attorney fees at the BVA level or below. 

While I agree with JK Williams that VA wont deduct the attorney fees, "If you signed a fee agreement" with the attorney the attorney could come after you for the money.  That is, unless you sent a letter to the attorney, discharging him from representation.  

Complaining to the General Counsel does not discharge your attorney. 

   In other words if you go to work for someone, you work for them until your agreement ends..it does not end if you complain to others about your company.  

    It sounds like there is "bad blood" between you and your attorney.  Remember, your attorney does NOT necessarily need to file documents "you" think he should file, but rather those "HE" in his professional opinion, will help you win.  

    I often see people disagree with how their attorney handles their claim.  But, if your attorney handles the claim "exactly like you think he should", then you dont need an attorney, you can just file all the papers yourself.  

     Attorneys are compensated for their advice/opinions, and, especially their time.  

     If an attorney read my cfile, he would have at least 16 hours to just read it.  (Its about 5000 pages long).  Im a fast reader, and it took me several weeks to review my file.  

      Your attorney could bill you for (reading your file, then your consultation) where he gave you advice..whether or not you followed his advice is irrelevant.  That is, even if he never filed one document to the VA.  Lawyers time is valuable.  If you call a plumber and he looks at your plumbing..gives you advice..you could owe him money.  (Unless you agree with him before hand, there is no charge for a service call, or estimate).  THe plumbers time and expertise, is valuable, and so is the attorney.  

      My advice.  Contact the attorney.  Discuss this calmly with him.  Be fair.  Most of the time "labor" does not come "with a warranty".  If he does the time, you pay the dime.  Its your responsiblity to ask your attorney these kinds of  questions..before you sign a fee agreement.  You may ask him to see a copy of the fee agreement..if he has one, or if you dont have one.  This may spell out your rights and responsibilities.  Assuming you signed a contract (aka fee agreement), yes, you can fire him, but you owe him for the labor (and expenses, per the fee agreement) up until his firing.  

      You may be able to come to an agreement with the attorney on his compensation..he may even tell you you owe him nothing.  

      Thus, its in your best interest not to attack the attorney, but simply state you went another route.  Since you apparently contacted the general counsel, you can also call and ask them the same questions, especially if you dont like the answers your attorney gave you.  

      Is this a NOVA attorney?  Or did you hire someone with little or no VA law experience?  (the later is not recommended).

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Also, if you go for a higher % in the future you may find yourself unable to find an atty who will represent you. If you've signed a fee agreement, I doubt any other law firm will represent you unless you have a written release. I felt like you when I got backpay (atty didn't do anything) but about a year later I realized my atty had a lot to do with get service connection. @broncovet is right, talk to your attorney and tell him what you're thinking and hear what he has to say.

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 Anytime you changes attorneys the first thing they are going to ask you did you get a form release if not have a nice day they all stick together it’s all about MONEY, know if, and or bulls. If I was you I would sweet talk your old attorney until he give you the release form saying he gives ups all right to your claim or claims and back pay in (Writing and Sign and Dated) McRay is 100% correct 

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4 hours ago, Marine Corp 69/70 said:

 Anytime you changes attorneys the first thing they are going to ask you did you get a form release if not have a nice day they all stick together it’s all about MONEY, know if, and or bulls. If I was you I would sweet talk your old attorney until he give you the release form saying he gives ups all right to your claim or claims and back pay in (Writing and Sign and Dated) McRay is 100% correct 

This right here I believe is very important.   I am doing an appeal to the BVA for an EED but before I started this process my attorney sent me a signed release closing my case after I was awarded 100%.

 

Edited by JKWilliamsSr
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