Many reasons may bring one to a point where one needs to know how to fire a lawyer. There could be issues that make a lawyer less qualified for an individual with a specific situation, or it could also be that one’s personality does not fit well together. Some clients may also feel that their attorney has jeopardized the success of their legal case.

Things to Consider Before Firing your Attorney

Before one gets to the point of firing an attorney, there are several factors to consider such as the following:

  • If one’s attorney has already spent a significant amount of time on a case, it could be challenging for another attorney to pick up where he or she left off.
  • It may be difficult to find a new attorney that is interested in taking on one’s case, especially if the case comes with a big lien attached. Unless the new attorney stands to win a lot of money, he or she may not be very motivated to take one on as a new client.
  • If an individual is seen as a “problem client”, other lawyers may not be eager to take over a case, unless there was a valid reason for firing the previous lawyer involved in the case.
  • Another thing to consider before firing a lawyer is the fees involved. Depending on the case and the agreement that one has with their attorney, one may still end up having to pay an expensive attorney’s fee. The longer an attorney has been working on a case, the more one will have to pay them. This means that if one chooses to fire their lawyer and hire a new attorney, there will be new fees to pay as well.

Claims Against Your Case

When looking at claims against one’s case, it is important to note that the lawyer one chooses to fire will probably have a lien or claim against the case to recover the value of the time he or she has spent on the case.

This lien may be in the form of a percentage of the fee or an hourly rate for the documented hours that were spent on the case. The new lawyer may not be willing to expend the time and money necessary to properly handle one’s case if they are forced to give up a large fee to the previous lawyer.

In the same breath, the new lawyer may attempt to charge the client a higher fee to make up for the fee they must give to the previous lawyer fired.

One must remember that some lawyer contracts state that the client is responsible for the costs involved in the case and the client must therefore be prepared in those circumstances to pay the lawyer’s costs involved when firing an attorney.

The process to Fire your Lawyer

Below are the steps that one can follow when looking at how to fire a lawyer:

  1. Make sure to read the fine print on the contract for legal services and make a note of what the termination clause states. If the termination clause includes a specific procedure for notice, timing, or anything else, these terms must be strictly followed.
  2. To avoid being without legal representation, it is advised to hire a new lawyer while firing one’s existing lawyer.
  3. Any time that one modifies or terminates a contract, it must be in writing, which is why it is advised to write a termination letter when firing an attorney. This document should be a formal letter sent by certified mail to the lawyer’s office, to have proof of delivery. One must request that their file, including all documents, evidence, pleadings, and other materials is sent to the new attorney. For this reason, one must send full contact information for the new lawyer so that the relevant material can be forwarded to them.
  4. Lastly, one must notify the court. If one’s case is already filed within the court system, the client, or their new attorney will need to file a notice with the court to show that they are now represented by new counsel.

Taking Action Against an Attorney

One may want to take action against their lawyer in the form of a formal complaint or suing for malpractice.

Formal Complaint

If a client’s attorney mishandled their case, cut communication with them, or made a serious mistake, the client might want to file a complaint. When filing a complaint,  the attorney’s work is reviewed by a disciplinary board and if the complaint is found to be valid, then the attorney might have to appear at a hearing.

Depending on the nature of the client’s complaint, the attorney may end up with a fine or have their attorney’s license taken away.

Important to note is that the process for filing a complaint differs according to the specific state. One can contact their state’s bar association or disciplinary board to find out more about the process that one needs to take in such an event.

Sue for Malpractice

Those looking to receive damages that they believe are owed to them as a result of their attorney’s mishandling of their case, should sue for malpractice instead of filing a complaint.

To sue for malpractice, one has to be able to prove that the attorney made a mistake, and if they hadn’t made the mistake, the client would have won the case.

The client must be able to show that the mistake made by the attorney directly affected the outcome of the case and therefore resulted in the client losing money.

Legal Assistance for Firing a Lawyer

If you are looking for advice on how to fire a lawyer or need assistance in navigating the legal procedures involved in taking action against an attorney, we are here for you. Call us at Shea & Shea personal injury lawyers to get a free quote today. Our team of legal advisors and well-experienced lawyers have represented thousands of clients over the last five decades and are ready to assist you today!

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