Can I Fire My Current Legal Help?
The short answer to this commonly asked question is, “yes.” In Florida, a client can fire his or her lawyer at will. However, before you choose to fire your lawyer – especially one who is handling your personal injury case – you should consider the reasons why you want to do it. If you are ready to go through with it, then you should know the steps you should take and the possible consequences of your decision.
If you would like to learn more about firing your attorney, you should speak with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer at Englander Peebles. We can help you to understand your rights and options and set you on the right path. Contact us today to speak directly with an attorney about your situation.
Why Do You Want to Fire Your Lawyer?
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A lawyer provides a service. Sometimes, a client is simply unsatisfied with the level of that service. Many people in Florida have valid reasons to terminate their relationship with a lawyer and seek new representation. Common reasons are:
- Failure to communicate – A lawyer has an ethical duty to provide information to clients and to consult with them about key decisions in their cases such as accepting a settlement offer. Some people grow frustrated by their lawyer’s failure to return calls, answer questions or update them about their case.
- Disagreement on strategy – People hire lawyers for their experience and knowledge. So, they generally entrust legal strategy to their attorney. However, if the attorney wants a client to take an approach which the client disagrees with, the client has every right to seek a second opinion.
- Potential negligence – A lawyer should handle clients’ cases in a prompt, competent manner. For instance, the lawyer should file all required paperwork and meet all deadlines. If a client suffers harm because of a lawyer’s negligence, the client should seek outside legal help right away.
- Conflict of interest – If a client knows of or suspects that a lawyer has a conflict of interest, and the lawyer fails to disclose that conflict or seek the client’s consent, the client has every reason to seek a new attorney.
As you move forward, you need to consider the reasons why you want to fire your own lawyer. Are you sick of being “in the dark” because your lawyer never returns your phone calls? Are you unhappy with the direction your case is taking? Did your lawyer make decisions without asking you first? If you decide to go ahead with the firing, you will need solid reasons to explain why you are doing it.
Are You Really Ready to Fire Your Lawyer?
When you consider why you want to fire your lawyer, you should also consider whether it will really help you or change anything about your case. Take a breath and think about it. Would you possibly be better off taking a different route? You should think about alternatives such as:
- Demand a face-to-face meeting – If the lawyer is not communicating with you, demand an in-person meeting where you can make sure the lawyer addresses all of your questions and concerns. If the meeting takes place, it may get you and your attorney back on the same page and allow your case to move forward much more smoothly. If it doesn’t, then it may confirm that it’s time to get a new lawyer.
- Mediation of your dispute – You could potentially benefit from bringing in a neutral third party to get you and your attorney to agree on matters. If you come to terms, it may allow the attorney-client relationship to continue. At the least, it may help you to settle matters more amicably later on if you terminate the attorney-client relationship.
If you decide after considering alternatives that you still want to fire your attorney, you should understand the potential consequences of your decision. If you consult with a different lawyer, the lawyer can help you to see the big picture.
What Happens If You Go Through with Firing Your Lawyer?
Firing your lawyer is not a light decision. It carries many ramifications, including:
- A court may frown on it – If firing your lawyer leads to a continuance or otherwise prolongs your case, a court may view the move as a delay tactic.
- Deadlines remain in effect – Even though you may be going through a change in attorneys, the deadlines in your case will still exist. Depending on how you handle the transition, you could risk missing an important deadline which affects your rights.
- You may still owe money to your former attorney – Depending on the arrangement you had with your former lawyer, you may owe the lawyer costs and attorneys fees. If the lawyer was handling your car accident claim, for instance, the lawyer may place a lien on any settlement or judgment that you obtain in order to recover all costs and fees that you owe.
You also have to be ready to face the risk that you find your new lawyer to be not much better than the old one. On the other hand, if you find that you are more satisfied with your new lawyer and feel good about where your case is going, then you will know that you have made the right decision.
What Steps Should You Take to Fire Your Attorney in Florida?
If you choose to fire your lawyer and seek new representation, then you should take the following steps:
- Gather and keep everything – Collect and store all correspondence with the lawyer and any documents which you received from the lawyer such as court filings or bills.
- Don’t wait to get a new attorney – To ensure a smooth transition, you should choose the new lawyer who will handle your case and make sure that the attorney is prepared to assume responsibility for it right away.
- Provide written notice of termination – You should provide the lawyer with notice, in writing, that you are terminating the attorney-client relationship. You may wish to state the specific reasons for your decision. In the letter, you should request an immediate transfer of your case file to your new attorney.
Your former attorney will not be required to turn over notes about the case or anything else that amounts to “work product.” In some cases, a delay can occur while an attorney goes through a case file to remove work product items.
Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Are Here for You
At Englander Peebles, we understand how people in Florida can become easily frustrated when their attorney fails to provide the level of service they deserve. The Florida personal injury attorney at Englander Peebles are here to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation and help you to understand all of your rights and options. Call or reach us online today.
At Englander Peebles, we understand the pressure people face when they are seriously hurt in an accident and are facing off against a large insurance company. As the bills mount, so does the stress. And the most frustrating part is that you can be victimized a second time if the insurance company refuses to pay in full, putting your financial future in jeopardy.