Debra Kelly thought she had all her bases covered.
Kelly, a lawyer in Trumbull, Conn., had followed every good business practice on fees she ever learned. Most important, she had the client sign a fee agreement and deliver a hefty retainer at the beginning of the case.
But the pace of her client’s divorce and child custody dispute became dizzying. The numerous hearings quickly depleted the retainer and, although the client did occasionally restock the escrow account, Kelly soon found herself falling into a deepening sinkhole filled with red ink.
Before she knew it, Kelly’s client owed her thousands of dollars in unpaid fees, and the case was too far along for her to withdraw. Kelly continued to represent the client right up until he and his wife reconciled.
The client couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. His thanks to her, however, was an unpaid bill for $6,000.