JOHN BLAENT LOSES OVER $20,000
IN A SINGLE ARBITRATION
AND WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE
HIM TO ARBITRATION TOO!
If you ever thought John Balent's billing was padded, you're not alone. An impartial Mandatory Fee Arbitration Panel of three arbitrators unanimously denied John Balent $20,648.00 in overbilled fees in March 2015 just weeks before he was placed on 2 years probation and suspended for 60 days by the Caliofornia Bar.
We cannot stress enough that you should take John Balent to Mandatory Fee Abitration as a large chunk of his billings were tossed out by arbitrators mostly based on his tactic of lump billing his clients and that his retainer violates the law. This Website will testify on behalf of any and all client's who wish to take John Balent to Mandatory Fee Arbitration and do all we can to assist you in getting your money back from John Balent's predatory billing tactics.
Background: One of the contributors to this website had initially hired John Balent in 2009 for a flat fee of $5,000 to complete a divorce and divide marital property. John Balent however, reneged on that flat fee and removed over $30,000 from the opposing counsel's Client Trust Account without the knowledge or consent of his client. He then lied to the court that the trial would be a short cause trial, causing mulitiple delays in the trial by having to return to court every few months to restart the trial. During all of this his office sent billing statements to the client's spouse to an address where the client had never lived. These billing statements not only exposed work product to the opposing side, they also would eventually totaled $38,648.00, more than 7 1/2 times what his flat fee was to have been. The billing was in bulk or lump format where Mr. Balent would place multiple tasks on nearly every line of the billing, giving the client no true accountability for the true cost of any task Mr. Balent claimed to perform. He used generic terms such as Memo to file, Review File and Prepare Strategy over 100 times on the billing. You can view this paticular bill in it's entirety Here on our website.
The client took John Balent to Mandatory Fee Arbitration which is MANDATORY for all attorneys in California. John Balent caused multiple delays in the arbitration hearings for over 18 months by not providing a fulll and complete copy of the Client's file and once requested a postponement because he was working on a Personal Injury case, despite the fact that he advertises on his Website that he is "Dedicated Exlusively to Family Law Since 1976." The client came to the arbitration with over 75 exhibits including declarations from several clients who were also lied to at hire that John Balent's services were for a flat fee and were also overbilled several times over the amount promised.
A rather odd thing happend after the arbitration hearing, as the lead arbitrator had never seen the use of declarations of former client's at an arbitration before and asked the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA), who was overseeing the arbitration, for their opinion on how to use these declarations as evidence. The OCBA decided in conflict of information stated on there own website on How to prepare for your arbitration hearing, and decided that another hearing would have to be held so that those former client's of John Balent would have to give testimony in person. This should have only been a formality as there are several former client's willing to testify at any and all arbitrations involving John Balent and his deceptive practices. However, John Balent, despite Mandatory Fee Arbitration being a requirement for him, refused to comply with an Aribtration rule 35(A) (See OCBA MANDATORY FEE ARBITRATION RULES), which states in part "Any compensation is to be paid equally by each party directly to each arbitrator, in
advance, for each day of the hearing for which compensation is due." Mr. Balent used this rule to supress the testimony of his former client's and the OCBA would not schedule another hearing and ordered the arbitrators to decide the matter without the declarations of Mr. Balent's former clients. The client feels this was unfair as strong evidence of Mr. Balent's guilt and unethical conduct was supressed and the client is going to motion to the court that the arbitration award be vacated in an affort to reclaim $18,000 of the $38,648 that John Balent got to keep (for now). We'll keep you posted on that issue. It should also be noted the client is filing a Bar Complaint against John Balent's failure to comply with Rule 35(A).
Below is the 11 page statement of decision by the 3 arbitrators who were unable to consider the declarations of former client's in arriving at their decision. Despite that, they have some rather harse langauge about the credibility of John Balent. A couple quick notes about the following, John Balent had been paid $20,000 to date by the client, but John Balent was also holding $16,525 in his client trust account for nearly 3 years that he was refusing to return to the client. It was discovered after the arbitration award that John Balent failed to credit another $500 he was holding, so at the end of the statement of decision below we have also posted a check from Mr. Balent for $16.525, a $2000 cashiers check and a $500 money order for a grand total of $19,025 that were returned to the client. Again, we can't stress enough that you should take John Balent to Mandatory Fee Arbitration as it clearly works against his predatory billing practices. Additionally, the client is appealing the aribtration award in an effort to recover the other $18,000 the client and this webiste believe were received by John Balent in bad faith.