One of the most important things to keep in mind when selecting a lawyer is that the lawyer works for you. Don’t worry about hurting the attorney’s feelings or having to undergo an awkward “firing” experience. A client can simply choose to terminate a lawyer’s services for any reason whatsoever without notice.
If you have decided the time has come to switch to a different lawyer, know that the choice to do so is quite common. However, it is important to make an informed decision. To that end, here is some essential information on when to consider changing lawyers and how to make the switch if finding a new lawyer is the right choice for your legal needs.
Reasons to Consider Changing Lawyers
As mentioned, you can choose to terminate a lawyer’s services for any reason you choose, but some reasons are more common than others. First and foremost, consider changing lawyers if your attorney is a poor and/or ineffective communicator. Not only does poor communication lead to a bad attorney-client relationship, it also can compromise the potential success of your case.
Additionally, you may want to consider changing lawyers if:
- Your attorney does not return your calls within a reasonable time frame (this should be discussed when first choosing a lawyer so there are no misunderstandings)
- Your lawyer does not involve you whatsoever in the legal strategy
- Your lawyer is not transparent and honest about the facts or developments of your case
- You are not being treated with respect as the client
- Any other reason you feel has caused you inadequate legal representation
How to Change Lawyers Effectively
The first thing to do once you decide to make a switch to a new lawyer is actually find the new lawyer. There is no need to leave your legal needs in limbo, and this is particularly true if your case has already started. In such a scenario, a judge may not let your previous attorney move on until a new lawyer is found to replace them. Step One, then, is to find the new attorney who is the right fit for you. Relying on attorney referrals is a great way to find a new lawyer who will meet your needs.
Additionally, take the time to review the retainer agreement with the previous attorney and look to see what it says about terminating the attorney-client relationship. The terms found in the contract could affect the steps you take when changing lawyers. As such, it will help a new attorney if you bring a copy of said agreement as well as the previous attorney’s files that relate to your case. This will help a new lawyer get up to speed with how your case has progressed.
And, when making the switch to a new lawyer, make sure you do not speak too negatively of your previous attorney. Discuss any previous issues in a collected and reasonable manner, ensuring the new lawyer will not make similar mistakes while also avoiding making the discussion too personal.
Once you have found a new attorney and laid the groundwork for a successful transition, take the time to send a letter to the previous attorney, officially informing them of the terminated relationship. This will let the lawyer immediately know he is to stop working on the case, and you can also use this letter to request all your case files if you want to bring the files to the new attorney yourself. Moreover, ask for a refund of any fees that were paid in advance but were not done by the previous attorney due to the termination. However, it may be the case the attorney you are terminating has earned all or part of the fee you already paid them. Also, if you owe that attorney a balance for fees, you will likely still have to pay that balance. Simply changing attorneys wont resolve you of that liability.
While writing an official letter and taking these additional actions are not legally required, it can help speed up the transition. Alternatively, your new lawyer can send your old lawyer a letter and make the same requests. Either way, remember that you are in charge as the legal client, and you deserve an attorney who works to protect your legal rights with effective counsel that meets your legal needs.
Here at Tyler Allen Law Firm, we’re ready and willing to help with a wide array of legal troubles. Give us a call today 602-456-0545!