Can I Fire My Lawyer Before Trial?
Many possible situations can make clients feel tempted to fire their attorneys, but it’s vital to weigh this decision carefully. Firing your attorney can delay your legal proceedings, and repeatedly changing attorneys during a case will not cultivate a favorable impression with the presiding judge. If you are considering firing your attorney, keep in mind a few things while making this decision. Depending on your reasons for wanting to fire your personal injury attorney, the process will work in different ways.
Deciding to Fire Your Personal Injury Attorney
Only a few situations should compel you to consider firing your attorney. If you and your attorney simply disagree on case strategy or specific elements of your case, but there has been no illegal or unethical activity, you should approach your separation from your attorney as professionally as possible. Good lawyers value their reputations, so you should expect professionalism if you engage the topic professionally.
If an attorney engages in any illegal or unethical behavior, you may wish to refer to the attorney’s bar association. Otherwise, you should carefully consider your reasons for wanting another attorney. In some cases, the legal minutia and nuance may not mean much to the client, but the attorney understands the inner workings of the case. This may frustrate some clients, but the attorney should be able to explain his or her reasoning for any decision that agitates the client.
If you become frustrated that your personal injury lawyer seems to always be unavailable to answer your calls or questions, consider whether or not your expectations are realistic. Your attorney may handle several cases at once and need to coordinate court appearances, depositions, and other appointments with clients.
Additionally, most legal cases are very time-consuming, and your attorney may be waiting upon information or other issue that is beyond his or her control. Communication is the key to any successful attorney-client relationship. If you can’t get in touch with your attorney, the attorney’s secretary can likely provide you with an update on the status of your case.
Changing Attorneys and Client Poaching
If another lawyer approaches you and attempts to poach your case from your current attorney, you may want to rethink your decision. Client poaching is very unethical, and an attorney who is willing to engage in unethical behavior to secure your case may also be willing to jeopardize your case with other unethical or illegal actions.
Some attorneys may hesitate to accept a case from a previous attorney for several reasons. For example, if you fired an injury lawyer who spent a year working on your case, your next personal injury attorney will need to catch up on a year’s worth of past work. If you have a history of repeatedly firing attorneys, the judge hearing your case may grow frustrated and believe you are purposefully interfering with court proceedings and wasting time and resources.
You will also need to consider the cost of firing your attorney. If you hired a lawyer on a contingency-fee basis, the lawyer will likely be able to claim against your case for the time spent working on it. This could take the form of a percentage of the total award or an hourly rate for time spent on your case. You will have to pay this to the fired attorney and then consider billing with the new attorney.
If an attorney engaged in any blatantly illegal or unethical behavior, the lawyer’s bar association can confirm this. In some cases, you may wish to pursue legal representation to continue your current case and also explore your options for a legal malpractice case against the first attorney. This is only possible if the first lawyer’s actions were illegal, unethical, or had a negative impact on your original claim. Contact a Riverside personal injury attorney with a strong record of successful legal malpractice claims if you find yourself in such a situation.