What Happens If I Want To Fire My Current Lawyer And Hire A New One?

What Happens If I Want To Fire My Current Lawyer And Hire A New One?
June 26, 2011 jamesludlow

It is a fact of life in today’s society that lawyers advertise—a lot.  In fact, some firms here in Indiana spend well over a million dollars each year to convince potential clients to hire them.  However, because they have so many cases to keep track of, some firms may neglect to move a case along in a timely fashion or to keep the client informed what is going on with their case.  As a consequence, in my practice I occasionally will get a phone call from a person who tells me that they are dissatisfied with their existing attorney and want to find out how they can change lawyers.

In Indiana, the right of a client to choose their legal counsel, and to change their choice of counsel if they are unsatisfied with the services they are receiving is a very important right.  No one should stay with a lawyer who is providing poor service because they are afraid what they might have to pay if they fire their lawyer.

Fortunately, in the context of a contingency fee contract which is common in personal injury cases, the law provides that if a client fires their existing lawyer and hires a new one, the new lawyer, rather than the client, is responsible for paying the previous lawyer whatever amounts that they are due for the services they provided before they were fired.

In this way, the client ends up only paying one fee.

Thus, in my practice, when a client has fired their existing lawyer and hired me instead, it is my job to pay the former lawyer whatever amount is legally owed for their services, rather than the client.  If the former lawyer and myself can’t agree what they are owed, then a judge decides how much the former lawyer should be paid based upon the reasonable value of the services that they provided.

Changing lawyers is of course a decision that should not be taken lightly.  If you are unhappy with the legal services that you are receiving from your existing lawyer, you should first meet with the lawyer and discuss why you are not satisfied.  However, if this doesn’t work, a viable option is to hire new counsel.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, or have a relative who was killed because of someone’s negligence, feel free to give me a call to discuss your legal rights.