Some people may be hesitant to change lawyers because they may not want to hurt the lawyer's feelings or suspect they'll have to pay more fees if they bring on another attorney.
Switching lawyers is common, so there's no need to worry about this issue. With regards to fees, the two lawyers will typically come to an agreement on splitting the fees, so you should not be worried about additional expenses.
So when do you know it's time to change lawyers, and what is the process?
When to Consider a New Lawyer
Communication with your lawyer is key, and you should stay active throughout the process. If you feel any of the following scenarios may hinder the success of your case, you may want to reassess your lawyer selection and consider hiring someone else:
- Your lawyer does not return your calls within 48 hours (given that you still respect their schedule and are not overly demanding).
- Your lawyer repeatedly asks for documents, files, or other such details that you have already provided. This may indicate a lack of organization.
- You receive court notices that a certain deadline has been missed.
- Your lawyer is not forthcoming with facts, or is not truthful about why the settlement is being delayed.
- Your lawyer is not involving you in assessing the legal strategy.
- You feel you are inadequately being represented in any way.
- You simply are not being treated with respect.
Steps You Should Take When Changing Lawyers
After deciding to change lawyers, you should take certain actions:
- Understand how your insurance company will react to the change, and assess whether the change is necessary. Some insurance companies could potentially see it as a sign that your case may not win since you're seeking help from another individual.
- Be polite but specific about your reason for the change.
- If possible, don't fire one lawyer before you hire a different lawyer.
- Seek lawyer referrals before selecting new representation.
- Ask your new lawyer to tell your old lawyer that you request the change.
Steps You Should NOT Take When Changing Lawyers
- Do not contact your insurance agency directly if you are unhappy with your current lawyer. They may think there is something wrong with the case or your lawyer. The chance for a quick settlement will start to diminish.
- Do not complain excessively to a prospective new lawyer about the old lawyer. They may sense that you're a problem client and may not want to take your case.
Keep in mind that if you change lawyers more than once, you may subsequently find it more difficult to identify a new lawyer who is willing to take your case. Lawyers may assume you have unreasonable expectations or are just a difficult client.
Make sure you at least try to salvage the relationship with your lawyer, but if all else fails, finding the right lawyer can certainly improve the chances of a successful resolution to your case.