My Lawyer Won’t Collect My Judgment

“My lawyer won’t collect my judgment. What can I do?” I got a message like this from one of our readers this week. I have a few thoughts on the subject of how to collect a judgment when the lawyer won’t collect it.

I have said it many times, lawyers, even good lawyers usually do not enjoy collecting the judgments from the lawsuits that they successfully litigate. It is very common to talk to people who have experienced this very dilemma. They trusted their legal situation to an attorney that they hoped would help them obtain justice from their adversary. They were fortunate that the attorney they chose prevailed with the court. The lawyer won the case for them. So far so good. But wait, after a victory in court resulted in a money judgment, little or nothing seems to be happening to collect the money.

As time slips away, it appears that getting paid what is due on the money judgment is only a dream. The reality of having the judgment debtor get by without paying, is becoming more and more clear.

This situation is not what was hoped for in the beginning when the lawyer and the client agreed file the lawsuit.

If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation, consider this. You agreed to pay your attorney on a fee basis with the usual billing of hourly charges, or else the attorney agreed to take your case on a contingency.

You would like to think that a lawsuit being paid on a contingency means that the attorney is going to be as aggressive in the collection phase of his job as he was in the litigation phase. Believe it or not, there are times when this is not so.

If on the other hand your payments for the legal work are not related to whether you win a money judgment or not, your attorney has likely already been paid all or most of what he expects to be paid by the time the judge awards you the money judgment. Realistically the attorney may feel his job is complete. And in fact it may be. You need to ask your lawyer to clarify whether his services in your lawsuit are complete when the final judgment is issued. Perhaps your attorney’s understanding is that the job is complete at that point. In such a situation you need to wake up and smell the baloney because your attorney is obviously not a judgment attorney.

Another possibility is that your attorney may not know how to collect a judgment.

If the attorney doesn’t think his job includes collecting the money, then you need to make sure that the court has released your attorney from being the attorney of record for your lawsuit. You can ask your attorney to file papers with the court to have himself removed as your attorney of record. You can also ask your attorney to submit your own name as the substitute attorney of record. As such you will then become your own legal representative in the eyes of the court.

What if your attorney has not been aggressively trying to collect your judgment for you, and if he does not intend on removing himself as your attorney of record? In this situation why not sit down with your lawyer and question him about what his/her plans are to get the judgment debt satisfied for you. Stay aware of each step that the attorney takes in pursuing the collection of your judgment. Don’t be afraid to suggest strategies and tactics for him to use.

Ask questions and expect straight answers. If you don’t like what you are hearing from your lawyer, don’t be timid about expressing your dissatisfaction.

If your lawyer is not doing his best job of getting your judgment paid, it is your job to see that things change. If your lawyer won’t do his job enforcing your judgment, enforce your judgment yourself. This blog site contains much information to help you learn how to collect a judgment.

Judgment Collection - Asset Search - Apartment Rental Lease Collections - People Finder
Statute Of Limitations For Debt Collection and Judgment Collection - Enforcing out of State Judgments Lawyers
Domestication of Foreign Judgments or Sister State Judgments

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