“Breaking up is hard to do,” as the song goes. You know you have to do it, you worry about it, and you can think of a million ways to avoid doing it. When the moment arrives, you take a deep breath and hope you’re doing the right thing. This isn’t your typical high school breakup. Your lawyer is involved in this breakup.
Let’s be honest: not every business relationship succeeds. You can blame the economy for the employee’s departure. You can look for a new house cleaner, hair stylist, or dry cleaner on the internet. Breaking up with a lawyer, on the other hand, can be frightening. They are aware of the consequences of contract termination and may sue you, resulting in a significant financial loss. Furthermore, a lawyer can assist you in other situations by informing you of your rights when terminating an employee or if there is a gap in a contractual agreement. Is there a professional camaraderie that will work against you if you go to another lawyer? Can you put your trust in this new lawyer?
Fortunately, lawyers, like most employees, can be fired at any time (except in the rare case where a legal guardian has been appointed to represent a person’s best interests because the person is unable to do so himself). However, just because you can does not mean you should. Consider the following two questions first: 1) If you’re in the midst of a court case, a judge may look negatively upon you and your case if you change attorneys too often; and 2) you may be dissatisfied about the pending conclusion of a case, but another lawyer may get the same outcomes.
In contrast, here are some plausible reasons why you would want to seek advice from someone else: Your attorney isn’t as knowledgeable about the law as he presented himself to be, you and your lawyer disagree on how the case should be handled, your attorney isn’t communicating with you and isn’t dedicated to your case, you are being treated disrespectfully, or your lawyer is detrimental to your case.
If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, you should first discuss your concerns with your lawyer. After all, changing attorneys would cost you more time and money, and your lawyer wants to please you because he has to pay his costs. Before you go to the extreme, try to sort things out. If it doesn’t work, read the contract you have with that attorney. Are there any procedures or regulations you must follow before firing him or her? Next, get a new attorney as soon as possible. Your new attorney will assist you in making the correct transition from one counsel to the next by sending a letter stating that you will no longer want the previous lawyer’s services and that you want your files returned to you by a particular date. If you paid in advance and the service was not completed, you are entitled to a refund. You should also request an itemized statement that details all outstanding fees and charges. If you have a contingency case, your new attorney will pay your previous attorney out of whatever money you win.
Breaking up is difficult, but choosing the appropriate lawyer to work with may make the transition simpler, and you’ll feel more confident in future business transactions.