How do I fire my personal injury attorney?
Before considering whether or not to terminate the relationship with your personal injury lawyer you should consider why you are unhappy. If you have tried for months to get your lawyer to return phone calls or if they have been unresponsive, it could mean they are busy working another case and they are simply tied up in a trial, deposition or out of town. It could also mean they have too many cases to give your case the attention it needs.
Unfortunately, regardless of the reason, failing to communicate with clients is one of the biggest complaints clients make to lawyers, especially personal injury lawyers. But does this mean you should summarily dismiss them? Not necessarily, especially if they are a competent lawyer.
The first step is to try to contact them and discuss the issue. If you have only tried to call them, try other forms of communication such as email. If you are able to talk to them see if you can find a solution so the two of you can continue to work together.
Considerations before you fire your lawyer
If you are unable to come to an agreement or you are unable to contact your lawyer, you may have no other option but to fire them. Consider, however, if you do choose to fire them they might have a claim against any compensation you receive for your case. This lien may take the form of a percentage of the fee or an hourly rate for the documented hours spent on your personal injury claim. Be prepared to pay your lawyer's costs when you terminate his representation.
If after considering the costs you still believe you need to fire them, you will need to fire your lawyer in writing. The documentation should outline why you are firing them and give evidence which supports your decision. You also need to notify them where to send your legal file, although some states will not require you previous lawyer to turn over all of the information for your case, especially if it is considered the lawyer's "work product."
Will I be able to find another lawyer to take my case?
Next, consider whether or not another lawyer will be willing to take your case. If your first lawyer has been working on your case for months another lawyer may be hesitant to take your case because they know they will have to split the attorney's fee with the first attorney. If, however, you have a strong personal injury claim and the second lawyer recognizes it has significant value, it is less likely the second lawyer will be deterred from helping you.
Should I notify the bar association?
Most terminations can be done courteously and professionally. In most cases there is no reason to notify the bar association or to threaten the lawyer with legal action. There may be exceptions, but generally, as long as the lawyer's behavior was not illegal or unethical, you simply notify them you are terminating the relationship because you believe you will be better served by another lawyer.
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