Changing Attorneys ... Your Rights and The Process

Can I change attorneys and if so how will it affect my case?

By Mark T. Freeley, Esq. (Open Post)February 21, 2012 at 1:06pm

However you came to consult your current Injury lawyer, there may come a time that you start to think maybe they aren't the "best" lawyer after all. Maybe there is a communication issue and your phone calls are not being promptly returned or are rarely returned by your actual lawyer. Are you always speaking to their secretary? Maybe when you ask "What's going on with my case?", you receive a vague response that gives you the uneasy feeling that really nothing much is going on with your case. Maybe the lawyer is not keeping you informed and not providing you with copies of important legal documents with explanations of what the next step will be. Maybe you just feel like you have no idea what is going on with your case, which makes you feel like you have lost control of the situation. Maybe when you call the lawyer you get the feeling that you are bothering him/her because of the short responses you receive or you are told the exact same thing that you were told the last time that you called. I actually like to call my clients regularly to see how they are doing and to update them on the status of their case. It's my belief that if a client has a case worth handling, then it's worth handling to the best of my ability.

When it comes to lawyers some people are hesitant to look for a different lawyer who will provide them with a better level of service, because they seem to think that somehow changing lawyers will hurt or delay their case...this is simply not true. Some people think they will pay more legal fees if they change lawyers...not true. Some think that because they signed a Retainer Agreement with their lawyer that they are unable to change...again, not true. The truth is that you can change attorneys at anytime for any reason. I tell all of my clients this when I first meet with them, many lawyers do not. My view is that my clients have a right to know this and if I treat them the way I would want to be treated, they will always be happy anyway.

I frequently receive phone calls from other lawyers' unhappy clients wanting to know if they can change attorneys and asking about the process. The process is quick, simple and painless. The client just needs to sign a "Change of Attorney" form stating that they want to change from their current lawyer to their new lawyer. The new lawyer sends the forms to the current lawyer and requests a statement of their case expenses. The new lawyer reimburses the current lawyer for their expenses, and the lawyers work out a division of the one-third legal fee up front or at the conclusion of the case. If the current lawyer has performed legal work on the case, they will be fairly compensated for their services. The new lawyer then picks up the client's file and advises the involved insurance carriers that they have taken over the case. The client does not have to have any dealings with the current lawyer, as the new lawyer will handle everything for them.

If you are happy with your attorney and are confident that they are doing everything they can to ensure the best possible outcome in a fast and efficient manner, then you should by all means stay with them. However, if your case seems to be taking too long to resolve, if you are not sure if a legal action has even been started, or if you are not receiving the answers you are looking for, it may be time for a second opinion. You only have once chance to obtain the right result on your case, you need to make sure you have the right attorney fighting for you.