Updated on: 2/11/2021
In an attorney-client relationship, both sides have the power to terminate the relationship if things aren't working out. However, there are some important things to understand about this process and the ways it could affect your case.
If you are unhappy or have lost faith in the services of your personal injury lawyer while your case is ongoing, you may be considering switching attorneys. But how exactly do you go about firing your current lawyer, and what other factors should you consider in order to find the right attorney to handle your case?
It's understandable that you may be interested in hiring a different attorney to represent you if you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your current lawyer. There are some legal issues to consider during this process, but the short answer is: yes, you have the right to change counsel.
Davis Law Group managing attorney Christopher M. Davis personally reviews every single potential case in our office. You might be surprised by the number of people that call our law firm to inquire about switching or changing lawyers.
It's important to feel comfortable with the attorney who is responsible for the outcome of your case. While you are not necessarily stuck with the first attorney you hired, making a switch isn't always easy either.
Things to Consider When Switching Attorneys
Just as hiring your first attorney was an important decision, so is the decision to switch attorneys. The following are nine important things to keep in mind when changing attorneys:
- You have the right to change lawyers at any time.
- Your current attorney may have made certain decisions, or even mistakes, that could impact your next lawyer’s ability to get the best possible result in your case.
- If a new attorney agrees to take your case, they 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, a new attorney may be able to negotiate a significantly lower amount of fees owed to your previous attorney.
- In some instances, a new lawyer may agree to resolve or settle your former attorney’s claim for fees without any additional expense or amounts paid by you.
- If a new attorney accepts 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 a new lawyer accepts your case, they will arrange to transfer your file from your former attorney without any additional expense to you.
Switching attorneys is unlikely to magically resolve any issues you have experienced overnight. Depending on the current status or phase of the case, it may not even be in your best interest to switch lawyers, as changing attorneys will sometimes 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 another attorney cannot overcome.
By contrast, sometimes changing attorneys is the best thing for the case. Hiring an experienced lawyer could be worth thousands or potentially millions in settlement money. Fortunately, there is little potential for consequence in consulting with another attorney about making a switch.
How to Know When it's Time to Change Lawyers
There are a wide range of reasons why you might switch attorneys. We have compiled a list of some of the most common warning signs:
- You don’t have a personal connection. If your calls and emails aren’t returned promptly and you are generally kept out of the loop on your own case, that’s a bad sign.
- Your lawyer is dragging their feet. Your case is taking longer than anticipated and you are not given a good explanation.
- Unorganized. If you are asked to provide documents and fill out forms over and over again, that’s a sign that your lawyer isn’t capable of handling your case.
- Promises aren’t kept. If you are repeatedly let down by your attorney, it may be time to look for another firm.
One or more of these signs may mean your current attorney is not equipped to handle your case with the care that it deserves.
How to Change Lawyers
If you’re interested in changing or switching attorneys, or firing or terminating your old lawyer, the process is fairly simple. Very rarely is there a dramatic scene that unfolds.
First, if you are seriously considering switching attorneys in the middle of your case, it’s recommended that you first contact a new attorney. There is no penalty for consulting or meeting with an outside attorney. Alternatively, you could fire your current attorney on your own.
Once you have met with your new lawyer, their office will send what is called a discharge letter to your old lawyer. This letter officially states that you have hired a new lawyer, that you want to cease working with the old firm, and to forward all client files to the new attorney.
The old attorney then will do one of two things:
- They will accept the decision and cease involvement in the case’s outcome.
- They will put a lien on your case and receive a percentage of your final settlement. This amount is agreed upon with your new lawyer, with the old attorney essentially acting as a another provider that must be paid off upon receiving funds.
Luckily, most upstanding law firms will take care of this process for you. At Davis Law Group, we handle the entire process of communicating a client's decision to fire their current attorney. This makes the transition process as smooth as possible.
Contact Davis Law Group To Learn More Today
If you are interested in speaking with a personal injury attorney at Davis Law Group about your case, we offer free case evaluations to injury victims. We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning we don’t get paid anything unless you win your case. There is no upfront cost associated with hiring our team to represent you, and we only get paid once we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.
Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page to get started.