My initial thinking, in hiring a divorce lawyer, was that I wanted to go ahead and let someone else do it. Our divorce was straightforward: we had no kids, no property. We had already agreed on a settlement, and, with the help of our fathers (both former lawyers) had drafted the settlement agreement ourselves.
We had an initial meeting, the three of us. Once we clarified our points, all that was left was sending in various forms to her, sending various forms to each other, signing various things in general, filing various papers.
This process took almost two years.
I started feeling as though something wasn’t right several months in – everything just appeared to be at a standstill. The majority of our correspondence with this woman was following up: “Has this been filed?” “Is there something more I need to do?” “Did you send me a copy of that paper?”
Jake started to get brusque with her. I tend not to like the way he interacts with people he’s frustrated with, but in this situation I felt it was appropriate, and I was glad he was willing to be the heavy. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
Skip ahead to the final details, a year and a half or so later: We get the final document, and her bill. Said bill has ten digits. Needless to say, I was floored. Even at her $200/hour rate, how could she possibly justify this? Looking over the itemized list, she’s charged a quarter or a half hour for every email – both receiving and answering – every phone call, every paper faxed. This, I can imagine, is standard, but half of our communication with her was asking for follow up. I was billed an hour for a phone call in which she called me to say she had lost my address.
I sent her a detailed list of my concerns, to which I got a reply stating that Jake was incredibly rude to her throughout the process, I would find that this was, in fact, inexpensive for such a "complicated situation," and that she would not file the final papers until she was paid in full.
The questions: Am I right in believing that we were screwed over here? Is there any action I can take? Is there a way to formally complain? Is there any use?
The whole point of hiring a professional was to take some of the pressure of me. In hindsight, I would have been less aggravating to do it myself.