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Need advice about a problem with ATT

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Ok here's a little background of my case:

I've had a 2 yr contract with ATT since 2006. Just last year of summer I've canceled my account.

Reason: I was out at sea for 4 months (I work as a merchant marine), when I broke my phone, so I wasn't able to use it for 3 months. I got off the ship and received my bills from them. I called and told them what had happened and they should waved the amount I didn't use the phone (I asked if it shows that I used the phone and the representative said I didn't use the phone those period I've mentioned). After I explained everything the representative denied my request, so I've decided to just cancel it. Being a dummy that I am I agreed to pay $200 cancellation fee when the contract had already expired a month before I got on the ship. I was told my balance was around $ 1,000 cancellation fee included. And they will forward it to the collection agency after 2 months from then if I don't pay. Two weeks after I received a letter of warning from a collection agency (west asset management) about my balance with ATT added to my total balance is $ 108.00 for the collection handling fee. By then I was panicking because it was so soon and I didn't have the amount to pay it off then. I start receiving phone calls from the agency everyday including Sundays a few times on weekdays but only once on weekends.

I talked to a representative and paid $100 then, and we set up a schedule for the fee, by then I informed them that I was unemployed and I need to get a job first to pay the whole thing off. So I told them to stop calling and sending me letters for now 'till I get the money. Well that didn't stop them, they kept on calling and sending me notices. Finally, a friend told me about hiring a lawyer from a pre-paid services. So I did, the lawyer said he can only send the agency a letter letting them know what I'd like to happen, but they'd still have to contact me to resolve this matter.

Today I called the agency, and I've talked to a representative and I told him the issue, he offered me 50% settlement balance (I am not sure what exactly this mean) and that I have to contact ATT and resolve this with them. So at this point, I am lost. I don't know what to do next, if I should my lawyer for legal advice or what. If I call ATT they will just tell me that I would have to deal with the agency directly and they can't do anything about it.

So is there anyone here who could help me? Or at least explain to me what's happening? Lol I'm sorry for this long pathetic read.

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I think once things go to collections, you have the upper hand. Here is the standard script:

OK - this is what you say to collection agencies when telling them why accepting your offer of payment plus removal of the collection from your credit report is a good idea.

1. You have not seen a contract between the collection agency and OC bank - how do you know they are even authorized to collect?

2. If the collection agency is unlicensed AND it is required by your state, tell them that they are breaking the law by trying to collect from you.

3. There is no way that they have intimate knowledge of the creation of the debt - these guys are a third party debt collector, and should this case wind up in court, anything they would say in court or documentation they would present be hearsay. Therefore, with no documentation, and no testimony, they would have no evidence and lose.

4. Again, should the case wind up in court, the fines would be $1000 per credit bureau. They would have lawyers fees plus damages awarded to you in court.

5. If they object to removing the account, tell them that removing the account is only correcting information entered in error to the credit bureaus.

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