• Report: #699118

Complaint Review: Patricia L. Brown & Associates, P.C.

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  • Submitted: Wed, February 23, 2011
  • Updated: Tue, September 06, 2011

  • Reported By: Preston — AUSTIN Texas U.S.A.
Patricia L. Brown & Associates, P.C.
595 Round Rock West, suite 201 Round Rock, Texas United States of America

Patricia L. Brown & Associates, P.C. Brown, McHam & Associates, P.C I paid 1500.00 down payment, complete cost for case-$406.70. Refuses to return the difference. They call it a "retainer fee" Round Rock, Texas

*UPDATE Employee: Rebuttal To Ripoff Report

*Consumer Comment: A fee is not earned simply because it is designated as non-refundable

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Facts not accurate and law office is willing to refund

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I was reffered to Chris McHam of Brown, McHam & associates through a prepaid legal company. I assumed I was in good hands-wrong! I went and met with Chris for a free 30 minute consultation. At that time he told me that the child custody case I was seeking generally ran about $3,000.00. It was made clear that the case may cost more than 3,000 and may run less, but we would have to wait to see how things unfolded. he wanted a 1,500 down payment to get started. This was called a "retainer fee".

The rest of the 3,000 was to be paid later as the case proceeded. the plan was to have her served with papers, go to court, prove her unfit if needed, and to inform her I was seeking custody of my daughter. Well she caught wind of what was going on and called me. She stated there was no need to do so, if I just had custody papers drawn up, she would sign them. I informed Chris of the situation and had him draw up papers for every other weekend visitation. I also informed him I was not requesting child support.

The papers he had drawn up were completely wrong and didn't include either of my 2 requests. They had to draw up new papers 2 more times before finally getting right.  I didn't complain even though I saw it on my following invoice. O.K. Papers were signed and the order was put into place. I went to their office and asked for an itemmized invoice so we can close out the case.

The secretary relayed the info to a lady in the back who came out with my invoice that stated total charges are $406.70. She then informed me there would be no refund for the difference. I gave her a confused look and asked why. She stated that I had signed a piece of paper stating the 1500 is a retaining fee and is non refundable. I asked so what happens to the money? She says Oh that goes in our escow account. I asked what that was and she said Oh thats for overhead and things like that. I told her she isn't entitled to that money and thats very crooked.

I left shortly after before loosing my cool. I am working with referal service who sent me there to TRY to get my money back. I don't mind paying someone for work that was performed, but when you don't work for it and take it, IT'S CALLED STEALING! I am a small business owner and if I treated my customers like that- Well u get the idea. Steer Clear Of These Crooks!    

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/23/2011 05:40 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Patricia-L-Brown-Associates-PC/Round-Rock-Texas-78681/Patricia-L-Brown-Associates-PC-Brown-McHam-Associates-PC-I-paid-150000-down-pa-699118. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Rebuttal To Ripoff Report

AUTHOR: ryglerka - ()

Mr. Chris McHam is no longer with our firm and the firm is no longer called Brown McHam.  Mr. Chris McHam has his own practice now. Ms. Brown has practiced family law, bankruptcy and estate planning for over 15 years in Central Texas with an impeccable record.  The firm is rated "A" by the Better Business Bureau and is a member of, and an active participant in, the Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, and Hutto Area Chambers of Commerce.  
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#2 Consumer Comment

A fee is not earned simply because it is designated as non-refundable

AUTHOR: Sentinel - (United States of America)

The court explained a true retainer "is not a payment for services, it is an advance fee to secure a lawyer's services, and remunerate him for loss of the opportunity to accept other employment." Citing Tex. Comm. on Prof'l Ethics, Op. 431, 49 Tex. B.J. 1084 (1986). The Court further explained that "[i]f the lawyer can substantiate that other employment will probably be lost by obligating himself to represent the client, then the retainer fee should be deemed earned at the moment it is received." Id. Other the other hand, if a fee is not paid to compensate the lawyer for lost opportunities and not to secure the lawyer's availability, then it is merely a prepayment for services and not a true retainer. Id. "A fee is not earned simply because it is
designated as non-refundable. If the true retainer is not excessive, it will be deemed earned at the time it is received, and may be deposited in the attorney's account." Id.
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#3 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Facts not accurate and law office is willing to refund

AUTHOR: Patricia - (United States of America)

This client did sign a contract that indicated that the first $1500 was a non-refundable retainer.  His case was expected to be more contested than it ultimately turned out to be, and a case with that level of complexity would not have been possible to complete for less than $1500.  The contract said non-refundable retainer in order to secure the firms availability.  He was advised of the meaning of  the word "non-refundable" when he first met with his attorney.  

He is not accurate that the total amount of work was $406.70.  That was only the costs incurred in his case, things like the court's filing and issuance fees, postage, copies, and such.  The actual work performed by our office included 7 hours of work of either the attorney or paralegal for $825.04.  The actual total of the work performed and the costs billed to this client was 1231.74.  However, as the owner of this business, I do not want any client displeased if I can help it.  I am willing to return to him the amount of funds not billed for fees or costs, which according to our records is $268.26.  

Further, this firm has had some changes recently.  We no longer use non-refundable retainer language in our contracts for family law cases.  100% of funds paid that have not been billed are refundable to our clients.  Additionally, Mr. McHam is no longer with our firm.  We are completely committed to making every client a satisfied client, with regard to our attention to each client, our quality of legal services, and our billing practices.  
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