My sister used undue influence on my dying father to steal his estate in 2012. Although a lawyer myself, I decided to retain counsel. Kimberly Whaley. Whaley Estate Litigation was recommended to me as being one of the best for Estate disputes. My experience was quite the contrary. I personally found her to be dishonest, unprofessional, aggressive towards me, and vindictive. This was in addition to her predatory billing.
During the initial call (I call it the sales call) Kim Whaley made several representations which she later backtracked on. Fortunately I had recorded the call. As a client I have every right to do so and there is no requirement that I advise the other party to the conversation. Ms. Whaley went ballistic when she found this out. She threatened to report me to the Law Society if I used them. The Law Society does not allow lawyers to record each other without being advised that they are being recorded. I was not dealing with Kim Whaley as a lawyer, I was dealing with her as a paying client. I would advise any client to record their lawyer when they are making representations about their case. In any event I am lucky that I did so.
The things that were stressed in the initial conversation were the timing of the drafting of the application( two weeks) and getting to court (six weeks but maybe a bit more). The importance of getting evidence or at least pinning down the story of my brother Brian and my father’s financial advisor Norman Yu. Neither of these were properly handled. This allowed my brother and Norman Yu to make up stories later which were damaging to my case. I was also promised that Kim Whaley would make all court appearances. This never happened.
There are two things one initially needs to prepare at this stage. One is the Application and the other a detailed affidavit in support. When I retained Whaley I had almost finished drafting the affidavit.
Ms. Whaley represents that the estimated cost to prepare an application and get an order for directions is approximately $20,000.
Ms. Whaley charged me $35,000 and we had not yet proceeded to the order for directions. I was shocked in October 2012 when the bill doubled as a result of charges they allegedly forgot to put on the original bill. I was now being charged $10,000 per month on a case where the junior lawyer was churning the account and accomplishing little. Because of her failure to meet the initial timetable, I was sued independently by my sister. This would not have happened had the application been drafted and served in accordance with her representations. She had the audacity to charge me for the preparation of the statement of defence which would not have been needed had she done her job.
As a result of her failure to get us a court date in a reasonable time she was forced to bring an emergency motion for preservation of the assets. I specifically instructed her to ask that if any monies had been removed from the estate they be repatriated. I also instructed her to ask for costs. She refused to follow instructions. As it turned out my sister had removed all of the funds and put them in her own name.
She drastically underestimated my sister’s counsel despite my warnings as to his lack of bona fides in providing disclosure. This caused delay and prejudiced my case.
Further adding insult to injury she tried to tie up all of the money from my father’s condominium which was not part of the estate. She tried to rely on a term in her retainer, which I did not agree with or sign, and which she claimed allowed her to secure a claim for her fees against the this property
At most she had a right to claim the $35,000 that we were disputing. All of her correspondence to the real estate lawyer made it clear she was not to disperse any monies. Despite numerous letters attempting to enforce that position, when she was finally called on it, she tried to deny it and suggest that I had misunderstood.
Her letters to me dealing with the fee dispute were threatening, aggressive and vindictive in tone.
She accomplished next to nothing, obscenely overcharged me, and abused me in her attempts to collect her account.
In my years of practice I cannot remember a time that I ran into a lawyer who, in my opinion, so embodied all the worst perceptions of the legal profession.
The above is the opinion and experience of the author as a litigant and a victim.