Usually unhappiness begins when a lawyer doesn’t return your phone calls. It can be weeks or months before you hear any news about progress. In some cases, you may feel like your case isn’t getting any attention at all. In any professional relationship, there’s a mutual trust that has to exist for it to work. That’s true whether it’s your lawyer or your physician.
Is it a Good Idea to Fire My Divorce Attorney?
Before firing your lawyer, you should consider whether it’s a good idea. You’ll need to think about the consequences and possible solutions to the situation. Firing your lawyer shouldn’t be the first step you take when you’re unhappy.
Have a serious conversation with your attorney. If you feel she’s been ignoring your case, ask her to explain what’s been going on behind the scenes. Often, there are motions and papers being filed. In other cases, there’s nothing happening because the lawyer is waiting for paperwork from the court or your spouse’s lawyer.
Ask yourself whether you’re unhappy with a ruling or because the court is moving slowly in your case. These are both situations where you’ll have to decide whether you believe another lawyer could have done a better job for you.
Valid Reasons for a New Lawyer
An unprofessional attorney who wastes time during meetings, seems clueless about your case or loses paperwork regularly should be dropped.
If you always feel like you’re begging for information from a lawyer who doesn’t communicate with you, it could be time for a new attorney.
Your lawyer should be advising you on how to handle aspects of your case, but ultimately, you’re in charge of how things should proceed. Your attorney shouldn’t be refusing to handle the case the way you want.
How Will Changing Lawyers Impact My Case?
You should never release one lawyer without having a replacement. Make sure you’ve done some research before hiring the new attorney, or you could be in the same situation in a few months.
It’ll take some time for a new lawyer to get up to speed on your case. Your new lawyer will bill you for this time. You’ll also need to supply the new lawyer with a retainer.
Changing lawyers repeatedly can indicate to the court that there’s a serious problem with your case. If you repeatedly cause delays by firing your lawyer, the court will reprimand you and possibly hold you in contempt.
Can We Start Over If I Get a New Lawyer?
You can’t start over with a new lawyer. Once the case progresses, you can’t go backwards to have hearings or mediations that have already taken place. The new lawyer could have fresh eyes and new strategies going forward though.
He’ll need time to read through all your paperwork. He might ask for a delay in certain court dates if they’re too close to when he receives your case. You’ll want your new lawyer to be well-versed in the proceedings before representing you in court.
The new lawyer will likely ask for a hefty retainer since he’ll be coming in mid-case and need to do a lot of work in a shorter period of time. It’s work that he might have to duplicate, but he’ll be more knowledgeable regarding your case.
While it can be stressful and cost more money to hire a new lawyer, in some cases, it’s vital to the outcome of your case. Before you fire your old attorney, though, make sure you’ve done everything possible to save the professional relationship with the current lawyer.
This article was written by Steve Raiser, a fellow Los Angeles personal injury attorney.