This is a question we often get from curious callers to our office and we want to clear up some confusion. First, know that you’re the boss. If at any time you’re not happy with your current lawyer, you have the right to fire your lawyer – even if a lawsuit has been filed and your case is pending in court.
We frequently get calls from people who want to change lawyers for any number of reasons, such as the lawyer does not call them back, they never speak with their lawyer – only secretaries or paralegals, or the lawyer does not appear to be aggressively moving their case forward at all.
The Florida Supreme Court has set out the following “10 Basic Rights” that each client is entitled to expect from his or her Florida lawyer:
10 Basic Rights For Clients
When I retain a lawyer, I am entitled to one whom:
- WILL be capable of handling my case.
- WILL represent me zealously and seek any lawful means to present or defend my case.
- WILL preserve my confidences, secrets or statements which I reveal in the course of our relationship.
- WILL give me the right to make the ultimate decision on the objectives to be pursued in my case.
- WILL charge me a reasonable fee and tell me, in advance of being hired and upon my request, the basis of that fee.
- WILL show me courtesy and consideration at all times.
- WILL exercise independent professional judgment in my behalf, free from compromising influences.
- WILL inform me periodically about the status of my case and, at my request, give me copies of documents prepared.
- WILL exhibit the highest degree of ethical conduct.
- WILL refer me to other legal counsel, if he or she cannot properly represent me.
How do I switch lawyers?
If you want to switch lawyers, do so in writing, signed and dated by you, directed to the lawyer that you want to fire. A signed writing is required. A simple one paragraph, handwritten note is fine. You can mail or fax it. Keep a copy. We’ve even seen an e-mail message sent to the previous attorney. A phone call or phone voicemail message is not sufficient. Further, it is important to keep a copy of your contingency fee agreement and any other paperwork you received from our first lawyer.
An important point to address is that you should always have a new lawyer hired before you fire your existing one, especially if your case is in litigation. You don’t want to miss any filing deadlines or court hearing dates that you aren’t aware of.
Another important point is that your previous lawyer’s case file. When my office takes over from a fired attorney, we request that the entire case file be sent to our office. It is one less thing for you to have to do, and it saves you time and money. We won’t have to recreate your medical records, medical billing or any investigation that has already been done.
One final point on switching your lawyer. Although you have every right to do so, you don’t want to develop a reputation for changing lawyers often. You may find that many lawyers will refuse to take on your case because they know they stand a very good chance of being fired by you.
Do I Have to Pay My First Lawyer?
Your first attorney is entitled to payment for services rendered up to the time of dismissal, in accordance with your fee agreement, but that does not mean that you will have to pay double attorney’s fees. You are not charged twice. This is something that your first lawyer and second lawyer will work out together. Whatever the applicable percentage fee, the two lawyers will work together to split up that percentage. For a contingency fee agreement, you only pay the one percentage and then the old lawyer and new lawyer decide what amount each should get.
Should I get a second opinion before I fire my current lawyer?
Sure. If you’ve got serious doubts about how your case is being handled, have another lawyer review your case. Second opinions are relatively inexpensive. In fact, Hancock Injury Attorneys gives such second opinions at no cost to you. And you’ll be better informed as to deciding whether to stay with your current lawyer or change to someone else better suited.
When seeking a second opinion, the more specific information you can give the second opinion lawyer about your case, the better advice you will get about whether your case is being handled correctly. Having such evidence as your medical records, x-ray and MRI reports, photos and the like are very helpful. However, be cautioned that no two lawyers handle a case in exactly the same way, and that a second opinion is usually a cursory review, not a comprehensive analysis.
If you’re not happy with your current lawyer, we can help make the transfer simple
Unfortunately, there are circumstances when, people feel their lawyer haven’t provided them with the service they need. Hancock Injury Attorneys is ready to step in should you be in this situation. We will be able to take over your case and deliver an altogether different experience. Or if you just want a second opinion, call to speak with injury lawyer Mike Hancock for your free, no obligation second opinion.
For more information, review “A Consumer Guide to Clients’ Rights” Pamphlet from The Florida Bar
Not happy with your current lawyer? Make the switch to Hancock Injury Attorneys today.
For the advice you need on switching your personal injury lawyer, call 813-534-6319 to speak with Tampa attorney Mike Hancock. We are happy to discuss your case, with no obligation to use our services.