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Section: money 
 

Dear Ann Landers,
Two years ago, I hired an attorney to represent me in a legal matter. He told me it would cost $3,000. I gave him $1,000, and we agreed that I would make monthly payments of $100 until it was all paid off. Imagine my surprise when, after my case was over, I received a bill for $6,795. When I called the attorney and asked about the statement, all he said was, "Well, that is what it costs." According to him, I still owe him $3,500. I realize it was stupid of me not to have a signed contract specifying what the bill would be. However, this attorney, knowing our verbal agreement, never once contacted me to let me know the bill would be so exorbitant. Is there anything I can do, or must I pay the entire fee? I don't feel he deserves it, but I don't want to wreck my credit rating. What should I do? -- Legally Entangled

Dear Entangled,
If this attorney agreed to charge you $3,000 and did not incur any extraordinary expenses during the proceedings, you may have a case. Contact the state bar association or the state disciplinary commission, and ask them to look into this matter for you. It will cost you nothing to report it. Good luck -- and next time, be sure to get agreements in writing, even when you are dealing with attorneys.