Unfortunately, it is not terribly uncommon for individuals currently being represented by an attorney in a personal injury matter to grow dissatisfied with the professional relationship. When this happens, many begin to wonder whether it is possible to, in essence, fire their first lawyer and secure new counsel for the remainder of their case. The general answer is that yes, it is possible to retain a new lawyer, and in some instances, it is advisable. However, there are numerous considerations to be made before moving forward with such a decision.
Common Reasons for Replacing Counsel
Clients are permitted to fire their attorney at virtually any point during the course of the representation, and there are a number of reasons why this might occur. However, some of the most typical factors leading up to a change in representation include:
- the attorney is not responsive to client calls or inquiries
- the client senses a lack of important progress in his or her matter
- the client discovers a conflict of interest not previously disclosed by the lawyer
- the attorney has not fully explained his or her strategic plans for the case
- deadlines are missed
- the attorney seeks time extensions from the court or the opposing party without good reason
- the client is asked to provide documentation that he or she has already given to the lawyer
While it is sometimes easy to forgive certain lapses in client service as the hallmark of a busy, in-demand attorney, there are times in which the above signals really do indicate the need for a transition to an attorney better able to devote more attention to the case.
How to Make the Transition
If raising client concerns to the attorney does not improve matters, it is wise to begin the search for new counsel right away. It is always better to secure the services of a new lawyer prior to firing the old one. New counsel may require a bit of time to become familiar with the file and supporting documentation, and he or she will also need to file the necessary substitution of counsel paperwork with the court. Clients need to bear in mind that even if a change in attorneys is better for their case, in the long run, it may prolong final resolution, sometimes fairly significantly. If any outstanding bills are due to the previous attorney, it is best to pay them promptly in order to avoid further delay in transferring the file.
Compensating the Initial Attorney
Those contemplating a change in lawyers need to realize that they will indeed need to pay their prior attorney for work performed on the case up until that point. If that lawyer had been billing for services by the hour, this is a straightforward proposition. However, if the work was being performed on a contingency basis, as is the case in a large number of personal injury matters, it will be necessary for the new attorney to craft an agreement with the former one whereby outstanding monies owed will be paid out of the contingency fee received following successful conclusion of the matter. This prevents the client from having to come up with new funds at a time when they are already likely strapped for cash.
Assisting Coloradans Through Every Stage of Litigation
Of course, the best thing a prospective client can do to streamline their legal matter is to hire a lawyer at the outset in whom they have real confidence. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal pledges to provide the prompt, understanding service he believes every accident victim deserves. By developing a collaborative relationship built on respect and trust, he will aggressively seek every available dollar of compensation from those accountable for the harm you have sustained. To schedule a no-cost consultation, contact us at 303.825.2223.