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Lawyer threatens criminal sanction against client who refuses to pay excessive fee

The New Jersey Law Journal
reports that an abusive attorney has been suspended from practice.

When a client hesitated over paying his bill, Richard Ledingham threatened her with criminal prosecution for "theft of services." He also warned that she might lose her business, her home and her professional license.

According to the New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board, Ledingham billed his client $52,742 for representing her in the purchase of a Sylvan Learning Center franchise in 2003. When Ferwerda retained him, Ledingham agreed to send monthly invoices, but never did do until the purchase closed.

Ledingham's work for Ferwerda was not extensive, the DRB found. He reviewed documents for a Small Business Administration loan for which she was approved but did not pursue. He reviewed a lease agreement but did not negotiate the terms. And he looked over the Sylvan franchise agreement, which was presented to her as a "take-it-or-leave-it" deal. The major part of his fee was 47 hours for studying a four-page section of the Internal Revenue Code �197, which deals with amortization of intangibles. Yet Ledingham is a CPA as well as an attorney...



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.