How Do You Fire Your Lawyer and Get Your Money Back?

How Do You Fire Your Lawyer and Get Your Money Back?

“…your lawyer is nevertheless obligated to fulfill the task that you’ve set before him or her. If he or she proves to be unwilling or unable to do so, you have the legal right to sever your relationship…”

October 11, 2017

G. Blane Clark, Jr., Managing Partner
Kean Miller, LLP
Estancia Office Park
5035 Bluebonnet Boulevard, Suite B
Baton Rouge, LA 70809

Re: Carey Messina – Seeking refund
File No. 23437-0

Dear Mr. Clark,

In December 2014, I was referred to a Kean Miller attorney, Carey J. Messina, by an attorney in the Baton Rouge, LA area regarding my family succession. As a native and long-term resident of Alabama, I didn’t understand the process in Louisiana or know what kind of an attorney I even needed. Beginning in 2010, I patiently waited on my uncle who is also a naked owner in this same estate to transfer stock from his mother’s name into each of our names. My grandmother died, in March 2010. Once a year for the next three years, I patiently inquired about the lack of stock showing up in my mailbox. Each time, Jimmy Burnett, would make up some excuse for why nothing had been done. Having had enough, by the spring of 2013, I called attorney Charles Hamilton, out of New Orleans, but we couldn’t come to terms on the retainer due to my limited income and thus we severed talks by July.

When Carey accepted my case, he wrote a letter to my uncle, James Albert Burnett, a Shreveport, LA attorney requesting the estate’s financials. Instead of mailing back the requested information, Jimmy called up Carey from out of the blue and for the next 90 minutes my reputation got thrashed based on my history with bipolar disorder. I’ve since been told that my attorney talking with my adversary was unethical or worse and it shouldn’t have taken place. What happened next? I got a phone call from Carey all pissed off at me based on what my uncle had just told him. Was it true? Carey went on to lecture me about how I could and couldn’t call him like never call him on his cell phone or car phone. I proceeded to get the riot act from my new attorney. I was to call him only at his office. Carey then made the statement that he would send me the financials when he got them from my uncle, Jimmy, before saying that he wouldn’t be able to represent me. (Code for: I’m dropping you as a client in the coming weeks.) I didn’t wait for that to happen.

I knew that I couldn’t keep searching for attorneys to represent me only to have Jimmy torpedo the relationship with whatever tall tell he told them. Within days, I had a lunch buddy, [name redacted], a financial advisor at [redacted] to call up Carey and serve as a character reference for me. Mike was a native of Shreveport, LA, a graduate of Southeastern, in Hammond, LA, and a resident of New Orleans, LA until Hurricane Katrina displaced him and his family. They relocated to Fairhope, AL where he finished out the rest of his career. When Carey returned Mike’s call he was still hot days after talking to Jimmy and me. However, the phone call worked!

I agreed to being billed at $350.00/hour for Carey’s legal services, but that was on the assumption that he would get the job done. He failed to achieve that. Given how Jimmy handled the phone call, Carey should’ve known that this case involving another Louisiana attorney might come with some problems. I don’t think Carey developed a proper strategy to take Jimmy on. My uncle was allowed to remain the family’s executor when he already failed to take on the responsibilities that go with the role, but as an attorney this gave him a lot of control over the case that an ordinary citizen wouldn’t attempt. I think Carey failed to realize this issue. I also had to contend with Carey losing his middle toe and getting medical treatment/therapy for it in the middle of my case. It lost critical time due to his injury.

In August 2015, Jimmy underwent a heart procedure, but no one bothered to tell me. I felt like Carey’s value was less of a $350.00/hour attorney and more like a $350.00/hour CPA or simply a case supervisor. I didn’t hire a CPA or supervisor from Kean Miller, LLP. I needed an attorney who could take on Jimmy Burnett, a real son of a bitch, if the case got ugly or if he started throwing his weight around and he did.

By April-May 2016 with the case dragging I had had enough. I had fleas all over me and I needed to make a change. I had to bring someone into the case and thus I filed a complaint against my uncle with the Louisiana State Supreme Court Office of Disciplinary Counsel and another one against Carey. I’ll admit I didn’t know what would happen nor did I understand the gravity of what I was doing. I got your letter terminating your representation of me, which was, both, a shock and a relief for me. I went without representation over the summer until September or October when I was referred to attorney Rita Bacot of Shreveport, LA. I spoke with many Shreveport attorneys along the way, but none of the men wanted to take over someone else’s case. However, I spoke with one young attorney who had defended Jimmy in another case. That didn’t surprise me, at all.

Seeing that my agreement to settle with Jimmy missed its deadline (June 2017) and the end of the year is coming, I wanted to address this matter of poor representation by Kean Miller, in 2017, rather than let the issue rollover into the next year. I’m not asking for a specific dollar amount to be returned to me by Kean Miller, I will let your firm decide that. Just understand that my attorney lost a toe and my case losing lost time and attention, as a result. Personally, I think Carey failed to have a proper strategy in dealing with my uncle, who’s also an attorney, they held a phone conversation about me that shouldn’t have taken place and the end goal wasn’t achieved. Carey made a lot of promises that the end was near when in reality it wasn’t even close.

In hiring Rita, she recognized the conflict of interest with Jimmy being, both, an attorney and the family executor. She immediately filed a motion to have him removed, which brought Jimmy’s new attorney to the table, by December 2016, weeks before that hearing. He offered to have the case finished in six months, June. I accepted. However, Rita failed to cover my flank by creating a financial penalty for my uncle, if he missed the deadline and he did. Jimmy has been controlling the case from day one when he called Carey up and rattled his cage by speaking so poorly of me.


Ted Burnett

Cc: Kean Miller, LLP


Source: Law Dictionary: How Do You Fire Your Lawyer and Get Your Money Back?

 Ted Burnett: I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: