Lawyers have the challenge of supporting us during life’s hardest times. They are invaluable because they’re able to guide us through difficult legal situations.
But what if you don’t like your lawyer?
It’s your right to select the attorney you want to represent you. Sometimes you think you’ve made the right choice, but the relationship unexpectedly fails and they don’t meet your expectations.
When this happens, it can feel hard to walk away. But do you know how to fire a lawyer?
If you’re unsatisfied with your attorney, feel confident in your decision to fire them by reading this guide.
When It’s Time to Fire a Lawyer
Let’s say your lawyer fulfills his or her duties under the law but does so in an incompetent way. You may be able to claim malfeasance.
In the legal field, malfeasance is the failure to perform duties competently.
Let’s say an attorney begins court proceedings promptly, but then fails to present evidence that is vital to the case. If this results in a dismissal of the lawsuit, the lawyer is liable for malfeasance.
Another typical case of misconduct is providing the service of writing a will but leaving out essential bequests by accident. Sometimes even the best lawyers make mistakes, but the smallest mistake may have a big impact on your case.
If a mistake is big enough to damage a case, the lawyer may find themselves in the middle of a malpractice lawsuit.
In some cases, an attorney may be perfectly competent, but their personality doesn’t mesh well with yours. The best lawyers show compassion for their clients and care about the outcome of their cases.
Don’t waste your time with an attorney who is unprofessional during meetings, doesn’t show up on time, or seems to be mishandling your documents or funds.
What if You’re In the Middle of Your Case?
You have the right to fire an attorney if you’re unhappy with them at any point in your case. If you go this route, make sure you have a plan for moving forward. Remember that it’s always recommended to end the relationship in writing.
Can You Hire Someone Else?
Yes. You should hire a new attorney before firing your old one. Do so to protect yourself during every step of the legal process.
Should You Worry About Client Confidentiality?
As a rule, the American Bar prevents lawyers from sharing your personal information with anyone under client-lawyer privilege. They are not allowed to reveal information related to the representation of their clients.
Learn How to Fire a Lawyer
Now that you know it’s possible to fire your attorney, there are specific steps you should follow to do so.
Before you begin the process, consider the time and money it will take to find a new attorney.
1. Sit on It
It’s all too easy to make hasty decisions in the heat of the moment. Never fire your attorney after an altercation or disagreement.
First, remove yourself from the situation and think about what your lawyer is or isn’t doing to upset you.
It would help if you also thought about the completed work and what’s left to be done. You may not like your lawyer, but it would be silly to fire them if your case is almost settled.
Keep in mind that you’re still responsible for your attorney’s fees. Make sure you can afford those and the cost of starting over with someone new.
Last, carefully approach possible attorneys, as some are hesitant to take on “problem clients.” Be prepared to articulate your reasoning for terminating the relationship with your current attorney.
2. Ask For a Second Opinion
If you’re uncertain whether your attorney is handling your case appropriately, it’s okay to get a second opinion from someone in the legal industry or another attorney.
Most attorneys will charge small fees for a consultation or second opinion, but it might be worth the expense. If you’re asking “how do I find a lawyer for my personal injury case?” they may be able to lead you in the right direction.
If you don’t want to consult another attorney, do you research and familiarize yourself with the details of your case.
Compare your situation to others and analyze their outcomes. You may find that your attorney is doing a good job.
3. Talk to Your Lawyer First
At some point – whether you end up firing them or not – you’re going to have to express your concerns to your attorney. Yes, this conversation will be uncomfortable, but it’s essential to try and see your case through their viewpoint.
Take the time to schedule a meeting, in person or over the phone, and state your specific concerns while expressing the changes you need to see.
If they are uncommunicative, then you know the relationship is over and you can then fire the attorney. On the other hand, you might find that you can move forward together.
Inform Your Attorney of Termination
If you decide to fire them, this is when you would hire a new attorney to guide you through the process.
Your new attorney will advise you to request copies of any relevant documents and carefully read through any agreements you may have signed. This is where you’ll discover whether you’re obligated to pay any fees.
Some agreements will outline a series of steps to take when terminating the relationship.
Inform your attorney that you’re firing them over the phone or face-to-face, but always follow up with written confirmation. There is no reason to state the reasons why you’re terminating the relationship unless you feel the need to do so.
If your attorney mishandled your case, consider filing a complaint. Your complaint will go under review by a disciplinary board.
If the board considers the complaint valid, you may have to appear in court. This process will save others the hassle of dealing with an incompetent attorney.
Moving On After Firing an Attorney
The process is uncomfortable, but firing an attorney that you are unhappy with is a liberating experience.
After all, you’re paying this person to protect you and fight for your rights. If they’re not doing their job, they don’t deserve to get paid.
Now that you know how to fire a lawyer, you’ll be on the right track in no time.