You have a right to change attorneys

Automobile Accidents | Attorney | contingency | Lawyer

January 3, 2019

(yes, even after you’ve hired one) (but, there are some things you should know)

When you hire an attorney to handle your personal injury case, you can always end the attorney-client relationship.  As the client, it’s your right.  This means that even after you’ve officially signed on with a lawyer or a law firm, it’s not too late to get out.  Whew.  Great news, especially if you start to develop that sinking feeling that you’ve make a big mistake.

But, be warned: just because it is your right to fire your attorney, doesn’t mean the decision is without strings.  The fee agreement you signed usually will state that the attorney gets paid for their services on a “contingency basis,” depending on what the case settles for.  The contingency rate is usually one-third of the overall settlement.  But when an attorney is discharged prior to the case concluding, they still have a rightful claim for the work that they’ve done.  Depending on the particular agreement you signed, this could translate directly into an hourly fee rate that is owed for their hours worked.  Most of the time though, your old attorney and new attorney can work out between themselves what is a fair apportionment of the one-third fee—they’ll share the one-third between the two of them—and how much goes to each will depend on the total work each one did when all is said and done.

So if you’ve sat on that bad feeling and waited too long to discharge your lawyer, you may have a hard time finding a new one—a new attorney knows that an old attorney has a stake on the fee, and who knows how much work that former attorney will claim they have done on the case. Many lawyers won’t touch it.

But this, as everything, is a case-by-case scenario and depends on a few different factors. It’s a good idea to get an individual consult with a lawyer on your own situation.