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Lawyers for DHCR claims -- Don't use 'em!!!

Posted by gary on September 26, 1997 at 11:22:08:

Myself, and other tenants in my building, are in the process of dealing with a DHCR reduction of services claim, which initially was handled by a well-known tenants law firm that has an outstanding reputation (name available on request).
My advice is: Unless a significant sum of money is involved, or your facing eviction, handle it yourself!
As is well known and documented, the DHCR is capable of being ridiculously capricious -- and that is true whether or not you have a lawyer. So don't be gulled by arguments that you need a lawyer to "lead you through the bureaucratic maze." Sometimes, I think, it is actually better to do it yourself.

As I pointed out above, the law firm in question has an outstanding reputation for handling tenant cases. Here's how they handled ours:

1) The senior partner said the total fee would probably be less than the initial retainer. They were wrong by a factor of 500%.

2) The senior partner said he'd handled it himself. He farmed it out to an associate.

3) The firm billed us individually for identical, boilerplate affidavits and complaints.

4) When I wrote a letter to the firm pointing out a potential conflict of interest and asking for guidance (I can't get more specific without identifying the case and firm), I received in reply a phone call from the associate, who said "You'll have to decide that yourself."

5) I was billed for the "legal research" involved in obtaining a non-answer to the question I posed in the preceding paragraph.

6) After I fired the firm and asked for my files, the senior partner insisted that I pay for copying my own files so they could keep a copy, calling the files "our work product." Even the associate felt he was full of shit. He only relented after I contacted the Appellate Division and threatened to file an ethics complaint.

7) We (myself and the other tenants) fired this jerk shortly before the DHCR handed down its ruling. We lost.

8) We filed a PAR, handling the case ourselves. We won.

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