Should you Fire Your Lawyer
DISSATISFACTION WITH ATTORNEYS
The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers. Those words, first uttered hundreds of years ago by one of Shakespeare’s characters, still reflect the feelings of a large segment of the population. The complaint that is most commonly heard is that the lawyer does not communicate properly with the client or telephone messages are not returned promptly, if ever. The lawyer may well be doing a satisfactory job for the client, but if communications break down, the client can be left feeling powerless, irritated, and dissatisfied.
While you should not stand for being ignored by your lawyer, keep in mind that he or she cannot make progress on your case or those of other clients if he or she is on the phone all day answering clients’ questions. If you have a question about your case, consider asking your lawyer’s secretary or paralegal. Often he or she can provide the right answer just as easily as the lawyer.
If a communication problem persists, the solution lies in letting your lawyer know in clear and certain terms that you are unhappy. A strongly worded letter, sent by certified mail, will get the lawyer’s attention and probably assure a prompt phone call. The letter should express your specific complaints and your desire to hire a new attorney if the necessary steps are not promptly taken. If a satisfactory response is not forthcoming, it may be time to seek out the assistance of another attorney.
Most clients are reluctant to fire one attorney and hire another one. You might be afraid to hurt the lawyer’s feelings by rejecting him or her in this way. You may believe that a double attorney’s fee will have to be paid if a second lawyer is brought into the picture. This is not the way it works in personal injury cases. You should not be charged one extra dime when you fire one lawyer and hire another. The two lawyers will work out an arrangement in which they split one attorney’s fee.
Lawyers are often hesitant about taking another lawyer’s case. There are many valid reasons for this. The client may simply have unreasonable expectations about the case and the second lawyer may end up having to deal with the first lawyer’s headaches. The second lawyer may fear that someday the first lawyer may take revenge for losing the client. The second lawyer may simply feel that the case cannot be profitably handled since the fee has to be split with the first lawyer. Nevertheless, it is worth checking into changing attorneys if, after expressing your concerns, you are still dissatisfied with your lawyer’s performance.