We had retained an attorney to establish guardianship for our son who had just turned 18 but had 'some issues'. However, we (wife and I) changed our minds and decided against pursuing it. The attorney promised to return the retainer, most of it unused, by check via mail within a week.

6 weeks have gone by and we have not seen the check. He is not returning phone calls. What is our legal recourse? Should we file a complaint and where?

  • Get another attorney and have them send a letter threatening legal action. Jul 20, 2017 at 20:39
  • 1
    To avoid an infinite regress of attorneys, suggest that he work without a retainer, to restore your confidence in the profession. Dunno if that will fly, though.
    – user6726
    Jul 21, 2017 at 5:14

1 Answer 1


This is probably a serious (disbarrable) violation of professional ethics by the attorney, which could be reported to the agency in the state where the attorney is licensed that handles attorney discipline (usually part of the administrative offices of the state supreme court). Some states are more efficient about handling these cases than others.

There would also be a basis for a civil lawsuit to return the funds (on theories of conversion, civil theft and/or breach of fiduciary duty) and potentially a criminal prosecution for theft.

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