What You Need To Know About Changing / Switching Attorneys

Frequently my office gets calls from injured people (car accidents, dog bites, medical malpractice, etc.) that already have hired an attorney to represent them but who are, for one reason or another, dissatisfied with their lawyer and wish to change attorneys. 

Sometimes we accept these cases.  Sometimes we do not. 

Depending on the phase of the case it may not be in the client’s best interest to switch lawyers—changing attorneys may not have any measurable benefit to the client.  And if the case has been managed by an attorney that is incompetent or that does not have the proper expertise there may have been mistakes made in the case that we cannot overcome. 

We get so many questions about switching lawyers that we created a document called “Things You Need To Know About Changing Attorneys” that we share with potential clients.  Below are some of the major points of the document. 

•    You have the right to change lawyers, at any time.
•    Your current attorney may have made certain decisions, or even mistakes, that could impact our ability to get the best possible result in your case.  
•    If we agree to take your case, we may have a different view and/or different strategy for your case.
•    In some instances, changing attorneys may prolong your case.
•    In some instances, you may be responsible for paying your prior attorney an amount for costs and fees incurred.  The amount of attorney fees owed may depend on the hours of work performed, whether a settlement offer has been made by the insurance company, and/or the language of the fee agreement you signed with your former attorney.  You may also have certain defenses to paying any amount of fees to your former attorney, depending on the facts of the case.
•    In some instances, we may be able to negotiate a significantly lower amount of fees owed to your attorney.
•    In some instances, we may agree to resolve or settle your former attorney’s claim for fees without any additional expense or amounts paid by you.
•    If we accept your case, you will not need to have any further contact with your former attorney (unless you want to), and your former attorney will not contact you (unless you want him/her to contact you).
•    If we accept your case, we will arrange to transfer your file from your former attorney without any additional expense to you.

Chris Davis
Top-rated, award-winning, attorney practicing wrongful death & serious injury law in Seattle.