Your personal injury attorney is employed by you to act on your behalf. If you are unhappy or dissatisfied for any reason, you can end the client-attorney relationship. Before doing so though, there are certain things you need to consider. There are also additional steps you should take, depend upon the reason why you are unhappy with your lawyer.
The Client-Attorney Contract
The contract under which your attorney works is entirely voluntary, or at least it should be. This means the lawyer or the client can end the contract at any time for any reason without repercussions. This does not mean you will not still owe the lawyer for any legal costs or administrative fees already incurred. You must still meet your financial obligations under the terms of the original contract.
Most personal injury lawyers work under contingency, meaning they are not paid unless or until you receive a settlement or the payment of damages in a successful lawsuit. If you choose to “fire” an attorney before your claim is resolved, he or she may be able to put a lien on any settlement or damages you receive. This may allow the lawyer to receive compensation, equal to or commiserate with the work he or she completed for you that eventually led to a settlement or the payment of damages.
Discuss Your Case with Another Lawyer First
Consulting with another lawyer before ending your first contract can save you a lot of hassle and potentially some money as well. Another attorney may be able to help you determine the best course of action and whether or not you should try to resolve your difference with your first attorney.
Switching lawyers can:
- slow down the progress of a claim,
- impact the outcome of settlement negotiations or a trial,
- and result in you paying additional legal fees and costs too.
For these reasons, you will want to ensure it really is the right path to take before you decide to fire your lawyer.
Report Unethical Behavior
If the reason you wish to end your client-attorney contract is due to unethical, illegal, or otherwise egregious behavior on your attorney’s part, then you should report the attorney to the State Bar Association and/or the local authorities. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it could also save you money in the end.