A client’s bond with their lawyer is founded on trust. When this trust is lost or when clients are unhappy with their attorney, they consider firing them and hiring someone else. But deciding on this matter is not simple.

Clients frequently hesitate between continuing or discontinuing their lawyer’s services. If the choice has already been made, clients must take the following into account.

Read the details on your retainer agreement for legal counsel. Find out if there is a termination clause and what it says. Follow the conditions of the contract if the termination clause specifies. Particularly, the process for notice, time, or anything else regarding the termination of the contract.

Revisit The Contract for Legal Service before firing your attorney - Afonso & Afonso in Elizabeth

Do it in Writing

In the event that you do choose to fire your attorney, you must do it in writing. To ensure delivery, send a formal letter to the attorney’s office using certified mail. Your letter should outline your reasons for the termination. You must ask for your file to be forwarded to your new attorney or provide the details of where your file should be sent together with all documents, evidence, pleadings, and other items. Remember that certain jurisdictions do not compel the lawyer to turn over his “work product,” such as his hypotheses or mental impressions about the case.

Do it Professionally

Good lawyers place high importance on their reputations. They recognize valid differences of opinion or approach and only pursue what is in the client’s best interest. If it becomes clear that the client will be better represented by another attorney, they will be happy to give up the case for the benefit of the client. If you terminate your lawyer’s services professionally, it is likely that your lawyer will reply in a professional and polite manner.

Do it in Writing - Afonso & Afonso in Elizabeth NJ
Do it Professionally - Afonso & Afonso in Elizabeth NJ

Do Not Threaten Your Lawyer

Unless your attorney’s actions have been clearly illegal or immoral, do not threaten your attorney with legal action or a bar association complaint. He’ll be even more determined to get involved and get paid in full for your case.

Notify the Court

If your case has already been brought before a judge, you (or your new lawyer) must notify the court that you are now being represented by new counsel. Your previous lawyer will submit a “move for withdrawal of counsel,” and your new lawyer will submit a “petition for replacement of counsel.”

Do Not Threaten Your Lawyer - Afonso & Afonso in Elizabeth NJ
Notify the Court - Afonso & Afonso in Elizabeth NJ

Factors To Consider Before Terminating Your Counsel

Before making the final decision to fire an attorney, you must first be mindful. Your top priority should be to hire an attorney with the highest level of legal expertise in the field of law relevant to your case. Hence, it would be in your best interest to consider the following factors.

1. You should have clear reasons why you would like to terminate your lawyer. Is it because of communication problems? Are they incapable of handling your case? Do you disagree with their advice? Do they bill you unreasonably? Did they commit unethical behavior? Do they lack dedication and empathy? In other words, terminating a lawyer must come from objective reasons.

2. In some situations, be ready to cover your attorney’s fees when you end their involvement. Your fired attorney will probably file a lien or claim against the case to recoup the fair and reasonable value of the time spent working on the case. This lien could be in the form of a percentage of the cost or an hourly charge based on the actual time put into the case.

3. There are legal nuances that clients may not be entirely aware of. Too frequently, after a client fires an attorney, the “new” council rejects the client’s case or tries to dispose of it swiftly after reviewing the case’s legal filings, motions, depositions, and records.

4. If your new counsel has to forgo a sizable fee to your former attorney, he might not be prepared to invest the time and resources necessary to handle your case correctly. Or, your “new” attorney can try to charge you more to make up for the payment he must make to the previous attorney.

Like any other situation, open communication between parties often resolves questions and issues quickly. If your lawyer failed to keep you fully informed about the progress of your case and you’re apprehensive about his competence, you should talk to him about your concerns before hastily dismissing him. Make sure that your lawyer knows what is going on. Most attorneys handle several cases at once. Hence, the best action to take is to set clear expectations. Particularly on the frequency and modality of communications between the two of you.

It is your right to get a copy of all pertinent paperwork and communication pertaining to your case. These include regular updates on its status. Lawyers have an obligation to provide clients with an honest and open legal opinion. All these while maintaining the confidentiality of client interactions. Nonetheless, bear in mind that there are delays and times when the attorney cannot provide the client with information or updates.

Lastly, be cautious if a friend or other lawyer advises you to terminate your current attorney and employ a new one. The advice you receive from these sources is based on the information you give them, which might not fully reflect the specific legal implications and issues raised by the facts of your case.

Recent Posts
en English