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Solicitor inefficient, arrogant and rude-how do I deal?

(10 Posts)
whatdoiknowanyway Tue 08-Nov-11 09:18:21

Dealing with my late father's quite straightforward estate I have become increasingly frustrated with the attitude of the solicitor.
Nothing happens unless I chase and I have repeatedly been asked for information I have already provided, usually in labelled and annotated files handed over at our very first meeting.
The solicitor never apologises and on 3 occasions has directly contradicted me, telling me I had not told him something (when I had made a note of it during our meeting and my sister had also been present at the discussion) or that he did not believe the bank had made a specific comment which I had repeated to him verbatim.

On the above occasions I protested and was told I was wrong and he was right.

I can't get my head around someone treating a client with so little respect.
I want to complain about him and I definitely don't think he merits full payment for the little he has done. But what can I do? He responds to any query by saying I am at fault and as the payment of his bill will be deducted from my father's estate I have no control over what he gets paid.

What redress if any do I have? The inefficiency is one thing but it is the rudeness more than anything which is getting to me. It seems to matter more to prove he is never wrong than to be polite to his clients. I would never have the gall to flatly contradict two clients who both remember clearly a particular discussion by insisting it never happened.

There must be some good solicitors out there - what would you recommend I do?

Lizzylou Tue 08-Nov-11 09:20:42

Either speak to his Senior Partner or go to the Law Society (if he is the Senior Partner).
It's ludicrous behaviour as firms are all chasing business, he should be treating you with more respect.

babybarrister Tue 08-Nov-11 09:56:22

find another one - I am sure that there must be a list held by the Law Society of spcialist probate practitioners - I think that STEP is a professional organisation for them

emsyj Tue 08-Nov-11 10:10:46

Who is the executor? Is it him or you? This is important as you may not be considered the client if he is the executor and you are the beneficiary, which limits your ability to complain.

How far has the estate progressed? If he is the executor and you are the main beneficiary, you can ask him to renounce the appointment (solicitors will normally agree to this unless there is a reason not to) and then whoever has the right to obtain the grant of probate will be able to go elsewhere (you if you are the main beneficiary). Has he applied for the Grant of Probate yet?

If you are the executor you can withdraw your instructions and go elsewhere or ask for the file to be transferred within the firm to another fee earner.

Whether or not you are the client, you should still complain though.

whatdoiknowanyway Tue 08-Nov-11 10:21:38

Thank you
He IS the senior partner so I guess I will need to go to the law society. I did look into that but it all seemed quite detatched with email addresses that i wasnt sure how far i would get.
We are so far down the road now, probate granted, house sale complete - although it's been a longer more frustrating process than it should have been. We're just waiting for the last final details albeit something I asked him to follow up in March. I've now got involved and sorted out as much as I can so, unless he has taken offence at me commenting to him (I was provoked) that it was not generally good business practice to contradict clients quite so directly, it should be over soon. It just feels so inappropriate for a service industry to treat its clients with such a lack of respect.
Really appreciate the feedback thank you.

whatdoiknowanyway Tue 08-Nov-11 10:28:17

Emsyj
He is not the executor. My brother and sister are but, because of the demands of their jobs I hav taken on the liaison role. Right at the beginning we asked him to sort out my sister renouncing the executor role so authority could be transferred to me (it's been done before in our wider family so we knew it was possible). He just didn't do it. We chased, he did something then said the probate office hadn't accepted it...

Trouble is as a layperson you don't get a lot of experience of dealing with your parents' wills, plus trying to deal with everything alongside work/family/rest of life.

Lizzylou Tue 08-Nov-11 10:36:31

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/contact/numbers.page Lawsociety complaints

Or if he is a member of STEP, http://www.step.org/

Sorry that he has made this difficult time even harder for you.

Lizzylou Tue 08-Nov-11 10:37:20

Sorry!

Lawsociety complaints

Or if he is a member of STEP, www.step.org/

emsyj Tue 08-Nov-11 10:46:27

I feel very fortunate that I haven't got any experience of complaints (phew! smile) but you can contact the legal ombudsman for help with making a complaint - BUT you need to complain to the firm first. They should have a complaints partner - who may be a different person from this 'senior partner'. Information about how to complain should be in the client care letter that you should have been sent at the outset of the matter - did you get one? With info about costs, timings etc? If not, the firm is on dodgy ground charging you anything at all...

Also ask about the fees and request a detailed narrative of the work done. You are entitled to query the fees - even if he has already deducted them from the estate funds. He can always credit them back to you!

cantcarryon Mon 14-Nov-11 10:54:17

Definitely complain - this is outrageous behaviour.

I had a dispute over fees with my solicitor not long ago and he was very rude to me.

An estimate of costs was made before commencing the case after our initial meeting, and i decided to proceed on the basis of the estimate. The case proceeded with no revisions of the initial estimate from the solicitor. Once the case was concluded the solicitor sent the final bill - which was double the original estimate, about £5k extra! shock

A revised estimate equal to the final bill, dated the day before the bill, then arrived in the post the day after the actual bill! angry

As I had only put aside the money to cover the original estimate, I had to approach the solicitor and ask to pay the extra £5k in instalments. I paid the amount of the original estimate immediately. He grudgingly agreed.

I then fell ill with a brain tumour and fell behind with the payments due to being unable to work (or walk, actually). I apologised to solicitor and asked for some time to catch up with the payments. he then threw a hissy fit, accused me of lying (er, what about the great big scar on the back of my head and letters from my consultant?) and insisted that i had to pay the whole amount "immediately" as "it was outrageous I was treating his firm like a bank"!

I also found out that he had retained money I had transferred to his client account over a year before to pay the barrister's fees, and was refusing to pay the barrister until i had paid his fees in full.

After getting further advice I was told that Law Society guidelines required a new cost estimate to be issued as soon as it is apparent to the solicitor that the final bill is likely to be significantly more than the original estimate. This had not been done. It is also highly unethical to hold client's money paid in for barrister's bills "hostage" against payment of their own bills.

I followed the firm's complaints procedure but sent my complaint to another partner in the firm as I had been treated so badly by this solicitor.

My complaint was dealt with very quickly by the other partner amd they agreed to refund the amount i had paid over the original estimate. If it had not been dealt with by them properly it would have been very easy to take the case to the Law Ombudsman.

I also had some email correspondence with the Law Ombudsman to get advice on how to proceed. They were very helpful and responded to my queries very promptly.

Don't let your solicitor get away with this. His behaviour is outrageous.

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