Mr. Chris Karlen was the most incompetent lawyer we have ever had to deal with. We have personally worked in the Federal Court system for 30 years and throughout those years have worked with countless attorneys and law firms, both good and bad. He fails horribly to communicate with his clients and to provide information and updates concerning case status,. He is self-absorbed with his own grandiose opinion of himself. It was impossible to get Mr. Karlen to keep us informed about our case. He never provided letters with updates, case status, outcome of defendant conversations, results of actions pursued, etc. When he did speak with us he will only speak on the phone so that there is no paper trail. He will promise everything but not follow through. He incorrectly completed and failed to file documents. We had to correct and sometimes generate documents he needed to file and also had to remind him of impending deadlines. When he does talk to clients he is extremely arrogant and talks down to his clients. In our entire one year experience he never performed the single, most important objective of our case, the purpose for which he was hired, to request discovery of documents. When we finally dumped Karlen, and began using another attorney (at 1/3rd the cost), we realized, even more so, what a pathetic job he had done and how refreshing it is to work with a professional attorney. Not an arrogant, jack leg. With our new attorney within weeks we had discovery documents filed, full written communication about what was being done and what was going on with our case. It was Be very careful doing business with this firm. As a client, we found many instances of incompetence and false promises. Demand all communication be done via email/in writing, the attorney makes many false promises and wishes to avoid any type of paper trail. The law firm has no concern for their client’s best interests. The client has been a Paralegal / Legal Secretary in legal offices for over 30 years. With that being said, this law firm, and specifically our attorney Chris Karlen, did not provided a trace of competent legal counsel or client representation. Had the client not been an experienced legal professional, things would have been more catastrophic. If a future client of this attorney is not familiar with the law and does not monitor this law firm closely, I fear they will be terribly exploited. Our overall experience with this attorney and the other firm partners is that they were unprofessional, rude, arrogant, and insulting. Manipulated charges: 1.1. Did not perform the services he said he would for the estimated cost. Within months he was billing additional monies. 1.1.1. Excerpt from email: “In our initial phone conversation when we discussed retainer fees, you stated you believed the $*k should be enough to get us to the point of having trust documents and financial information to review and that, ‘barring unforeseen complications or issues’, would allow us to make an informed decision about moving forward. We provided all the necessary information and we relied on your knowledge and experience to estimate what steps and procedures would be involved in this process. At this point, there have been no unforeseen complications or issues since our initial conversation. You were even able to outsource your first court trip to a local attorney which saved us quite a bit of money and which we appreciated. Since we provided you with all the information up front for you to make an informed estimate, we find it difficult to understand how your estimate was so far off that you now require an additional $*k – and we still have no new information.” Although multiple attempts were made, the attorney never replied to, or even acknowledged, our concerns and questions. Inflating billing hours: 2.1. Excerpt from email: “We hoped that the original $*k retainer would have at least taken us through getting additional documentation to review. We’re disappointed that the subpoenas were not prepared earlier since they were actually issued before the motion for contempt was served; however, no action was taken on the subpoenas for over 4 months. This puts us in the position of spending additional money without the benefit of reviewing the documentation and making an informed decision on whether or not to proceed.” Incompetence – Some examples include: 3.1. Most baffling is the fact that after 14 months the attorney had still not requested written discovery (request for production of documents) which was our primary objective and always the very first step to be taken. 3.2. Consistently sent emails to an invalid email addresses. 3.3. Repeatedly failed to provide us with our copies of documents, subpoenas, etc. 3.4. Failed to follow our wishes on actions to be taken. 3.5. Failed to file written discovery. 3.6. Consistently dropped the ball through the following actions: 3.6.1. Failure to file subpoenas in the time sensitive manner 3.6.2. Incorrectly completed subpoenas 3.6.3. At one point the plaintiff prepared a Motion and provided to attorney for submittal. However, it was still not filed in time. 3.6.4. The plaintiff, being a legal secretary, repeatedly had to monitor, follow through, and remind the attorney of deadlines and documents. Luckily, plaintiff was knowledgeable enough to monitor the situation and catch many errors and delays. However, that should never have been necessary; especially at the hourly rates we were being charged. The client, being a paralegal, had to constantly stay on top of the attorney to make sure things got done on time and correctly. Work done FOR the attorney because he was dropping-the-ball included: performed the following tasks and provided to our attorney 4.1. Edited and corrected Subpoenas 4.2. Created Motion (was provided well in advance but still wasn’t filed in time) 4.3. Researched case law 4.4. Researched Burden of Proof laws 4.5. Researched family trust and farm subsidy regulations 4.6. Reminded attorney of deadlines 4.7. Constantly monitored attorney’s progress and responsibilities through the courts public information (because we normally did not get any information from the attorney) 4.8. After extended periods of no activity plaintiff constantly had to remind attorney of what he need to be pursuing and what documents we were trying to accomplish. 4.9. Researched and provided pertinent County Assessor information Communication: 5.1. More often than not, attorney would never reply. When motions were submitted, phone calls made to the defendant, courts, etc. attorney failed to follow-up and tell us what had transpired. We did not receive copies of documents and attorney was uncooperative answering questions and responding to emails. 5.2. Every few months we would have to send the attorney emails to get him “back on track”. We would have no idea what was going. We had to send attorney detailed emails refocusing him on the original, primary objective. Phone conversations & questionable honesty: 6.1. We had an impossible time staying informed and had horrible experiences trying to get any information about what was occurring or had transpired. We could not get answers to specific questions/issues via phone but instead had some unnecessarily long winded and unproductive discussions. 6.2. Things that were said and agreed upon over the phone were not carried out at all, or in the manner plaintiff had requested. Attorney consistently failed to do what he promised, or would sometimes do the opposite of what was requested. 6.3. We had an impossible time getting attorney to answer questions, we got inconsistent stories, could never get updates, were unable to find out was going on with the case, or get answers about the outcome of a meeting, phone call, or other task, etc. 6.4. Attorney stated in the first meeting that he preferred telephone communications. We though this odd in this day and age, but we complied. We then finally realized this was the attorney’s way of avoiding a paper trail and not getting pinned down on anything he had said or promised. At that point, we requested all communications be done via email. After that request, attorney’s communication became almost non-existent. 6.5. Very, very seldom did attorney follow-up and get back with us as promised. The Law Firm’s attitude, ethics, and manner: 7.1. Plaintiff was forced to send multiple emails to the other partners of the firm with complaint. Nothing was done and no one ever even responded. Every few months we would have to send attorney emails to get him “back on track”. We would have no idea what was going. We would have to send attorney detailed emails refocusing him on the original, primary objective. I assume attorney had way too much on his plate, didn’t care, or both. Obviously, it cannot be said that the attorney did no work on the case over the 14 month period. After prodding and reminding him, he did do some things. Like filing the same subpoena 3 times, although nothing had changed in the case. They had just done it wrong the first 2 times. What we can say is attorney did nothing to represent our best interests, only his billing interests. As mentioned previously, throughout the year we voiced concerns and complaint, both to the attorney and to the other firm partners, in the event they may have been unaware of the problems and issues. All complaint communications were completely ignored and never replied to. Finally, the attorney botched the filing of a Motion and we complained again. It was blatant incompetence, and attorney couldn’t even attempt to concoct an excuse this time. There was also no apology…only arrogance. Attorney then immediately terminated our attorney-client relationship, ceased to be our council.
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