Attorney Matt Boulton receives a number of inquiries from Hoosiers asking whether or not they can fire their current attorney and hire him instead.
In most instances, you have the right to discontinue the professional relationship you have with your attorney, however, the retainer or contingency fee agreement you have with your current firm will likely have instructions on the steps you should take to give proper notice.
The agreement you signed should also contain language that explains what happens with your case if you choose to seek alternative legal representation.
For example, there will most likely be a lien on the case for all work your current law firm has performed to date. Liens are quite common and are typically handled between your present law firm and any future attorney.
But before you get to this point, there is another important question that needs to be answered: Should you even be thinking about firing your current attorney?
While Matt is humbled by someone believing he might be able to offer them a better legal experience, he, like most attorneys, will first encourage the person to try and resolve any issues they have with their current attorney/law firm.
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In Matt’s experience, if you are feeling unsure about your current law firm or attorney, it can be related to any number of reasons but will often have a common theme shared by other clients in similar situations.
Common Reasons Clients Consider Firing Their Attorney
Often times, the reason a person is considering switching attorneys is for one of the following reasons:
“I never receive updates from my attorney.”
“I don’t understand what’s going on with my case.”
“It’s taking too long to settle my case.”
“I think my case is worth more than my attorney does.”
“I think I hired the wrong type of attorney.”
And while each of these concerns may be valid, they are also not uncommon, especially if this is your first experience with the legal process.
For that reason, let’s take a closer look at each of the above-listed concerns.
Your attorney is not providing you with status updates.
In most instances, an attorney or law firm will outline or explain their communication process and expectations before you hire them, however, now that your case is progressing, you may feel that the updates are not arriving in a timely fashion.
If this is true for you, a simple notification to your attorney may be all that’s needed.
You are confused about what’s happening with your case.
If the information you receive from your law firm is difficult to understand, do not feel embarrassed or frustrated!
It may simply be that your attorney has worked on hundreds or thousands of similar cases and forgets that what is second nature to them is brand new to you.
It seems like your case is taking too long.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a next-day legal solution. Settlements and lawsuits can take months or years to resolve depending on the circumstances of your case.
Additionally, due to the large number of claims currently being handled by adjusters and courts throughout Indiana, cases will sometimes simply require everyone’s patience.
You don’t think your attorney is asking the insurance company for enough money.
If you hired your attorney on a contingency fee agreement, it is always important to remember that it is in your attorney’s best interest to recover the highest amount of compensation on your behalf, as it directly benefits the firm to do so.
Asking for anything less than what your case is worth would be an unwise business strategy by any attorney!
You’re not sure if your attorney has a lot of experience with your case type.
Maybe you hired the first attorney you located simply to get your case started but now you are questioning the primary focus of their law practice.
If you have hired an attorney that handles a variety of case types, such as family law, criminal cases, real estate, etc., then you likely have retained a general practitioner. This does not mean they are unqualified to handle your case, however, they instead divide their time among many practice types.
What are the Next Steps?
First, you should never fire your attorney without attempting to first express your concerns. It is possible that a simple misunderstanding can be resolved with ease and there is no need to seek alternative legal counsel.
Second, it is important to understand that you could potentially be trading concerns between different attorneys!
For example, if you believe that your current attorney has not assigned an appropriate dollar value to your case, you may find that another attorney estimates it to be worth even less than its current value.
We point this out to highlight the fact that attorneys can have different opinions about your case depending on circumstances and their experience in handling similar claims in the past.
Third, the decision to retain or separate from your existing attorney should be yours alone. Sometimes well-meaning family or friends may advise you to fire your attorney without their having all the details or any professional legal experience.
Likewise, always be leery of an attorney who pressures you to hire them or contacts you in an unsolicited manner and suggests that you let them take over your case. Of these two acts, the former is unprofessional and the latter is potentially illegal.
Ultimately, it is rare that anyone wants to be involved in a situation that requires the assistance of an attorney, no matter their case type.
For that reason, it is not unheard of for clients to sometimes think that attorney-hopping might lead them to a fast or perfect case resolution to put the matter behind them, however, this is not a magic solution, nor advisable.