what to do if an attorney files a lien against you

by Dr. Terrill Lockman IV 8 min read

Is it a good idea to represent yourself in court?

This is an action in court, and while an individual may represent him/herself, it is rarely a good idea, and it may be worth while to enlist the services of an attorney. Additionally, there are generally prohibitions about business entities representing themselves in court actions.

Can a lien be removed quickly?

Another Option, But Only on Some Residential Projects. There is potentially another option to have a lien removed quickly (that also requires a court action). But, this option is only available if the project was on a single or double residential project, and the owner has paid the GC the full contract amount.

What is an attorney's lien?

An attorney’s lien allows an attorney to hold onto or make a claim against a client’s assets until he has received payment. One type of attorney’s lien is called a charging lien. This type of lien is made against a settlement or judgment a client receives.

What is a retaining lien?

A retaining lien is another type of attorney’s lien. With this type of lien, an attorney may have a right to any money or property the client receives during a case, regardless of whether it is related to the legal action in which the attorney is involved.

How do attorneys make money?

Attorneys typically earn money by collecting legal fees in exchange for legal document preparation, representation, and advice. In some cases, clients may pay their attorneys for their services up front. This is not always the case, however, and an attorney may have to wait to receive his fees at the end of the case or once settlement is made. ...

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What is attorney lien?

Attorney liens are the ultimate sign of a broken relationship between attorney and client. Part 1 discussed what an attorney lien is and Part 2 highlighted the requirements and limitations of an attorney lien.

What is a retaining lien?

In essence, a retaining lien is a way for your former attorney to hold your file hostage until he receives payment or an assurance that he will be paid out of the settlement or award received in your case.

How to file a lien on a property?

Filing a lien is a public declaration that someone hasn't paid for contract work, and is a strong legal move to make. Before you jump straight to the decision that you want to file a lien, talk to the property owner and attempt to set up another plan.

How long do you have to file a lien?

You only have a brief period of time after you've completed the work to file for a lien, and in some states this period is as short as 60 days. Depending on where you live, you may not have time to exhaust all other options before you file a lien if you want to preserve this option.

What is a lien on a property?

A lien gives you a right in or over property as security for a debt someone owes you While there are several different types of liens, as an individual you probably are filing either a mechanic's lien or a judgement lien.

What is mechanic lien?

Mechanic's liens enable contractors to collect money they earned doing work by encumbering the property they worked on until the debt is satisfied. A judgment lien allows you to secure the collection of a court-awarded judgment at the completion of a lawsuit. Steps.

How much does it cost to file a lien?

Expect to pay a filing fee between $25 and $50 depending on the location where you file. Although you often can file your lien by mailing it to the office, you may want to deliver it in person. Many offices have a backlog on mailed filings, so this is particularly important if you're filing close to the deadline.

How long does it take to enforce a lien?

If the debtor still doesn't pay after you've filed the lien, you must enforce the lien by filing a foreclosure lawsuit within a certain amount of time, usually a year. The foreclosure suit causes the property to be sold. The proceeds of the sale are used to satisfy any liens on the property.

Who is Jennifer Mueller?

Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow's legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006.

Where to file a lien on a property?

Individuals must file the certified copy at the county land records department. This has to be the county where the property owner lives. Before attempting to place a lien on anyone's property, it's important to hire a lawyer. Placing a lien on property can be extremely complicated depending on the requirements.

Can you put a lien on a property?

However, placing a lien against property can take a large amount of leg work and time in court. For instance, people must obtain a judgment from their local courthouse first. This means suing the property owner who owes the money or unpaid debt. This may require a court appearance if the property owner answers the complaint.

What to do if your lender doesn't file a UCC-3?

To do so you will generally need to make a trip in person down to your secretary of state’s office.

When you pay off a loan, do you file a UCC-3?

When you pay off a loan or advance or if you settle a loan or an advance, you should immediately submit a request with the lender to file a UCC-3 form with your secretary of state. The UCC-3 will terminate the lien on your company’s assets and remove the UCC-1 filing.

What is a UCC filing?

A UCC filing, also known as a UCC lien or a UCC-1, is a financing statement which lenders can file against your business with your secretary of state. When you take out a secured loan, the lender may file a lien to protect the asset (s) you committed to secure financing. This might be a piece of equipment, a vehicle, property, ...

What is the purpose of UCC filing?

The purpose of UCC filings is to gain security in something. Lenders can place a UCC lien on a variety of things. The easiest way to understand it is in connection with collateral, a more commonly understood element of the borrowing process. Most things which can be used as collateral for a loan can have a UCC lien placed on them.

How long does a UCC-1 last?

A UCC-1 protects a lender’s interests for five years (unless the lender refiles) and may appear on your business credit reports. Please keep in mind that UCC filings are public records.



There are several things that must exist before your old attorney can file a lien to recover unpaid costs and fees. First and foremost is a valid contract that contains an understanding that you will pay your attorney. If you never agreed to give money to an attorney, he cannot later demand to be paid, no matter what work he may ha…
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Lien Limitations

  • Whether you’ve failed to pay him or not, your attorney is still ethically obligated to avoid prejudicing the interests of your case. This basic rule applies very differently depending on the circumstances, but if the lien might hurt your chances in court, there is a higher likelihood that it will be denied. Contingency fee agreements – the type of contract most plaintiffs sign in person…
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Acceptable Reasons to Withdraw

  • Your attorney’s ability to file a lien for his fees and costs may hinge, among other factors, on whether his withdrawal was reasonable. If, for example, he withdrew from your case without giving a reason (or because he decided to become a professional golfer instead), and his withdrawal damaged your case, the court may well support you in your decision not to pay him f…
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Responsibilities After Withdrawal

  • When an attorney is discharged and/or allowed to withdraw from a case, he still maintains the duty to protect his former client’s interests through the transition to new counsel, including providing case file information to the new attorney. Though the option of retaining case files as security for unpaid fees is often available, it is limited by law, as will be discussed in Part 3. An a…
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