When you hire an attorney, you are paying them to do a job. Just like any other “employee,” you also have the right to fire them. However, keep in mind there are several things that you need to consider before taking such a drastic step. When you fire your current attorney, you will need to retain substitute counsel. Before terminating the relationship with your current attorney, you should already have hired the new one, and they should be familiar with your case. It is courteous to end the legal relationship with your current attorney in writing. You should also notify the court of the changes in your representation as soon as possible.
Severing The Attorney Client Relationship
Attorneys are only human. They get overwhelmed, and they may not respond as quickly as you would like. An attorney can dishearten you for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons an attorney is fired are:
•Lack Of Confidence In Their Ability To Handle The Case
•They Are Not Giving Your Case Proper Attention
•The Court Gives An Unfavorable Decision
•You Have A Disagreement With The Attorney
•The Fees and Costs of The Case Keep Increasing
Your Case Will Not Be Affected
Thankfully, firing your current attorney will not destroy your case. Before you take such an action, you need to evaluate the reasons why you feel this is necessary. For instance, you may need to add another defendant to your case due to the fact that you think he caused the injuries. Your current attorney filed the motion in court, but the judge denied your motion. Firing your attorney is not going to help you get this motion approved.
You should only fire your attorney when you have issues with them or their work. If you feel that your attorney is not giving your case enough attention, then you should talk to them first. It may be a problem that can be easily corrected. All of the costs of hiring a new attorney may be avoided with open communication about your concerns.
Steps to Ending Your Professional Relationship
Here are the appropriate steps to take when firing your attorney. First, you must look over your contract to uncover any legal issues. There may be a provision in the contract that says how you are to terminate the relationship. Make sure to follow this procedure to end the relationship in a civil manner. Second, you should only hire another attorney when you are certain you want to fire the first one. If you fire your current attorney before you have a replacement, you may have no representation for a short period.
Third, write a letter and send it by certified mail to the attorney. The letter should be short and concise. The letter must specify that you are terminating the relationship. Additionally, the letter should also say that you want to get all of your case files send to the new attorney. This is another good reason to already have that information before you fire your current attorney. Make sure to include all your new attorney’s contact information for the file transfer.
If you paid your attorney in advance, make sure to ask for an itemized bill with a refund of any unused balance. Some attorneys take large nonrefundable retainers up front. You will not be entitled to receive any of this money back. Lastly, if the case is still pending in court, then you need to notify the court that you have a new attorney. Make sure to do this step at the same time or immediately after alerting your existing attorney. Your current attorney will file a “motion to withdraw.” The new attorney will file a “motion for substitution of counsel.”
Refunds of Retainers
You are still required by law to pay the attorney any money owed to them. If you dispute any amount of the bill, you are not required to pay that portion until a settlement is reached. Each state has rules concerning the contracting of legal services. Until they have received the money due them, they can choose to without your case files. They can also file a small claims action against you. This will not only require you to pay the balance, but you will also have to pay any interest, the court adds to the case as well as court costs.
If you do not pay the money owed to the attorney, they can file an attorney’s lien in court. This lien will allow them to recover any of their unpaid fees out of the final judgment of your case. Try talking to the attorney and coming to some understanding. If you and your counsel cannot see eye-to-eye, then it is time to retain a new attorney.