Roose hired the law firm of Gallagher, Langlas, and Gallagher, P.C., to represent her in her divorce.
Langlas, an attorney in the firm, signed an attorney fee contract and gave it to Roose to sign and return. He also requested a $2,000 retainer fee. Roose never signed or returned the contract, and did not pay the retainer fee in full. The firm represented Roose even though she did not sign the contract or pay the retainer fee in full. In April 1995, the Gallagher attorneys met with Roose and her father, Burco. The attorneys told Burco that the expense of his daughter’s child custody trial would be approximately $1,000 per day.
The firm would not guarantee Burco that the trial would last for only two or three days. The firm contends that during that meeting, Burco gave the firm a check for $1,000 to pay the outstanding balance on Roose’s account and said he would pay for future services. Before the trial, an attorney with the firm contacted Burco and requested an additional retainer to secure fees to be incurred. Burco told her, “My word as a gentleman should be enough . . . I told Mr.
Langlas I would pay and I will pay.” Roose failed to pay her legal fees. In July 1995, the attorneys sent Burco a letter requesting $5,000 for Roose’s legal fees or the signing of a promissory note. At the end of July 1995, they sent Burco another letter asking him to sign a promissory note for $10,000. Neither Roose nor Burco paid the fees or signed the note. The firm represented Roose in the July 1995 trial. Burco took an active part in the trial by testifying and participating in conferences with counsel during recesses. After trial, Burco returned the second letter and promissory note with a notation stating that he was not responsible for his daughter’s attorney fees. The firm sued Roose and Burco for the unpaid fees. Is Burco legally responsible for the fees?