Is Changing Lawyers Allowed?Posted on: February 17, 2023
You hired an attorney, but now you’re having second thoughts.
Is changing lawyers allowed?
After a bad accident, you find a personal injury attorney who is willing to take on your case. You sign the contract with great expectations. You’re going to win, and this lawyer will defend your rights and get you the best possible settlement.
Several weeks (or months) later, you realize that your relationship with your attorney is not what it should be.
Your calls aren’t returned at all. Or they aren’t returned in a timely manner. Or they are only returned by the staff when you want to speak with the attorney.
Then, when your attorney finally does call, you don’t understand what your lawyer is saying. You feel that your attorney isn’t taking an active role in your case or preparing it in a thorough manner. Maybe you find out that the firm has taken on more cases than they can handle or has other problems—maybe they’ve lost staff or have other internal issues.
What do you do now? Is changing lawyers even possible?
Can I Talk To Another Lawyer If I Already Have One?
Yes! You are absolutely allowed to speak to or even switch attorneys if you don’t like the attention or representation you’re getting in your personal injury case.
Remember, you hired them, which makes you the boss. You don’t need to apologize to anyone for ensuring that your legal needs are met. Changing lawyers doesn’t mean you are “betraying” your former attorney, you’re simply doing what’s best for your situation.
It’s easier when there haven’t been any major developments or complaints filed with the court, but you can change attorneys at any point during your case. In fact, most attorneys are willing to assist in transferring the case from one firm to another.
Reasons For Changing Lawyers
If you are not satisfied with your current lawyer, it can be helpful to take some time to consider your reasons for wanting to find another one.
Here are some good reasons you may have for switching attorneys:
- There is a conflict of interest.
- There has been a lack of progress on your case.
- Your attorney doesn’t return phone calls or emails.
- You don’t agree with your attorney’s legal strategy.
- Your attorney isn’t explaining the legal process.
- Your attorney is pressuring you to accept a settlement you don’t think is fair.
- You want to file a lawsuit but your attorney is reluctant to do so.
- Your attorney doesn’t seem to have experience with your type of case.
- Your case is being handled solely by a paralegal or assistant.
- You no longer trust your attorney to competently handle your case.
- Your attorney makes you feel disrespected or uncomfortable.
Even if one or more of these are true, you may still be on the fence about replacing your attorney. In this case, you can always take advantage of another attorney’s free consultation and get a second opinion to find out if your concerns are justified.
If you have concerns about how your personal injury case is being handled by your current lawyer, it may be worthwhile to meet face-to-face with that attorney and discuss what changes, if any, need to be made. You may find that addressing the issues allows you to move forward in a positive way.
However, if you leave that meeting feeling the same or worse about the situation—or you cannot even get that meeting scheduled—it may be time to make a change. Luckily, the process of switching attorneys is a simple one.
Speaking with other attorneys can give you a better understanding of how your current attorney works. If those consultations contradict what your previous lawyer told you, you may consider switching. On the other hand, if they support the experience and advice you’ve received so far, you might decide to stay where you’re at.
Finding a Good Attorney
Whether you’re changing lawyers because of poor communication, lack of attention to detail, or any other reason, it’s a good idea to interview a new attorney before you fire your previous one. This ensures that you have an attorney interested in your case. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations, so don’t be afraid to see as many as you need to make a good decision.
In addition, ask lawyers if they have represented clients in cases similar to yours and whether or not they are board certified. This can give you information about how the attorney will approach your case and whether they will be able to get you the outcome that you desire.
Before you retain a personal injury attorney, find out whether he or she has tried cases similar to yours and whether they usually represent plaintiffs or defendants. If you can find one, it’s great to have a lawyer who has experience on both sides of the table, not just in settling claims but also in trying cases in court.
In your initial consultation with an attorney, ask him or her what types of fees they charge and how their fees are calculated. Many personal injury lawyers handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer does not charge any money up front, but instead charges a percentage of the settlement once the case is resolved.
Ask about how long it will take for your case to go to court and how long it might take for it to be resolved.
(Confused? We’ve put together a list of questions to ask your personal injury lawyer.)
How to Change Lawyers
Once you decide to switch attorneys, do not just stop communicating with the old lawyer or tell him or her that you no longer want legal representation. Instead, put your reasons for changing lawyers in writing and have the letter delivered by certified mail or by email with confirmation of receipt.
Next, either you or your new attorney should request all of the documents relevant to your case. If your previous attorney did any work on your case, your new lawyer can get right to work without having to start over.
Another thing to consider is attorney fees. Just because you are firing your attorney does not mean that you no longer have to pay them. If they completed billable work towards your case, they deserve to be compensated.
Some attorneys are willing to work out a deal where you only pay once for your entire case and the attorney’s portion is split between both lawyers (proportional to the amount of work they did). However, this is not always the case, so make sure you discuss this upfront before you decide to switch attorneys.
Your previous attorney will have a claim for an attorney fee when you switch. The amount of that fee will vary on several factors. If you have received an offer, the fee will arguably be a percentage of that offer. For example, if you have been offered $30,000 before litigation, the fee claimed could be $10,000. If you have not not received any offer, the fee will be based on an hourly basis for work performed by that attorney.
Again, you should address these issues with counsel before you switch so that you know your obligations.
It’s Important To Choose a Good Attorney
Yes, changing lawyers on your personal injury case is well within your rights. But it can be complicated to coordinate the transfer of information and negotiate a payment plan. It can also cause delays in your case. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right law firm in the first place.
At Beers & Gordon, we do our best to give you the best representation possible from the outset of your case. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, thorough communication, and putting our clients’ interests first.
From your first consultation, you will meet with an attorney—not a paralegal or assistant—to discuss the details of your case. At every step, we will explain our methods so you know what to expect. Most importantly, we will never urge you to accept a settlement that we don’t believe is fair.
If you’re looking for a new personal injury attorney, schedule your free consultation today to get started.