Should You Ever Switch Lawyers in the Middle of a Case?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Merrida Coxwell with Coxwell & Associates.
Switching lawyers in the middle of a case can be complicated and stressful, but is sometimes necessary. It’s important to remember that the claim is after all your claim and not the lawyer’s; if an attorney is not meeting important expectations in competence, communication, or compassion, it may be wise to consider switching lawyers.
While this may result in additional legal fees, if you do not believe your attorney can win your case or will not pursue a fair settlement on your behalf, additional legal fees may be preferable to receiving nothing at all or receiving an amount that is woefully inadequate.
Reasons to switch lawyers in the middle of a case may include:
- Unfavorable court decision
- Poor working relationship
- Disagreement about important case issues
- The lawyer’s competence is in question
- The lawyer appears disinterested in the case
- The lawyer does not communicate
- The lawyer is unethical
- The lawyer exercises poor judgment
- Personal conflicts
- Unreasonable attorney’s fees or costs
Communication and competence are key.
Of all the skills an attorney must have, communication and competence are two of the most important. If an attorney does not communicate effectively with their client, the client has no way of knowing what exactly is going on with their claim. If an attorney is not competent, they may not have the skills necessary to win the case in the first place. In some cases, communication may even be indicative of competence and vice versa.
As far as communication goes, a good attorney should keep their client apprised of what is going on with their claim at any given time. Additionally, the attorney should be proactive in reaching out to check in with the client and should answer any questions in as timely a manner as possible. An attorney who takes the time to explain complicated legal jargon and/or the application of the law to your case is even better because it shows not only do they know what they’re doing, but that they want you to understand what you’re doing too.
Competence, of course, is vital, because without it an attorney has little chance of obtaining a successful result. A good way to check an attorney’s competence is to ask about their track record for success prior to hiring them, as well as reviewing a collection of reviews and testimonials. However, if an attorney’s competence comes into question after you have already hired them, it is not too late to conduct these investigations into their skill level. If you are not satisfied with what you find and are concerned that your attorney does not have what it takes to win your case, it’s a good idea to consider switching lawyers.
It’s a good idea to talk to another lawyer before firing the first one.
It may sound easier to fire a bad lawyer right away so you don’t have to deal with them anymore, however, this could actually make the transition harder for you. Instead, look around for another lawyer whose track record, reviews, and experience seem promising. Request a consultation and let them know that your claim is already in progress, but that you are having some serious doubts about your current representation.
If you like what you hear in the initial consultation and they are interested in taking your case, the new attorney can help walk you through the process of exactly what needs to be done to let go of the undesirable attorney and transfer your case to them. Additionally, this can help your new attorney quickly obtain the necessary files from the old attorney and get up to speed as quickly as possible.
If you suspect your current lawyer is not equipped to win your case, or to learn more about when and how to switch lawyers, reach out to a reputable attorney in the relevant practice area.