If you’ve hired a lawyer and you are having second thoughts, you aren’t alone. There are several reasons why you may want to call it quits with your lawyer. Examples could include everything from poor communication to unprofessional conduct, or even a personality clash. A lot of people mistakenly think that they are stuck with the lawyer they hired or assume that it is going to be difficult or costly to make the switch. Here are just a few reasons why you might want to consider looking for another lawyer:
Lack of communication. – Feel like you have been ghosted by your lawyer? It’s true that lawyers are very busy, but that is no excuse for not returning phone calls or replying to emails within a reasonable time frame. While you may not be able to get your lawyer on the phone every time, a legal assistant or team member assigned to your case should be able to ask questions on your behalf and get back to you promptly.
Your lawyer’s area of practice doesn’t match your needs. – Lawyers have experience in various areas of law. If you have been injured in an accident, it is important to hire a lawyer that practices Personal Injury law. The same goes for any other areas of law such as Real Estate, Wills and Estates, and Employment law. If for any reason you feel like your lawyer isn’t as knowledgeable as they should be, this is a good reason to look for a lawyer with more expertise.
Your lawyer is unprepared. – Your lawyer should always be prepared, especially for important legal proceedings. When you arrive to a scheduled meeting, your lawyer should be organized, have your file and legal information on-hand, and be ready to answer your questions. If you feel like your lawyer is wasting your time or is unprepared, it’s probably time to find another lawyer.
Vague billing or surprise fees. – If you are receiving what you feel are unreasonably high bills or unexpected charges, it might be time to start thinking about looking for another lawyer. At Litco Law, the meter isn’t running. The clock isn’t clicking. We never bill by the hour, and we’re always completely upfront about our pricing – so there aren’t any surprises. Our Personal Injury claims are always on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us anything until your claim is resolved.
Unethical behaviour or misconduct. – Lawyers aren’t above the law. Your lawyer has a legal duty to act ethically and in accordance with Alberta’s Code of Conduct. A breach of the Code may include:
- A conflict of interest
- Breaking lawyer-client confidentiality
- Misuse or mishandling of money
- Asking you to do anything that’s illegal
- Not informing you of a settlement offer
Malpractice. – This might be intentional or accidental. Examples could include your lawyer misinterpreting the law, failing to meet important deadlines, or any significant error that could negatively impact your case. If you have reason to believe that your lawyer has been negligent, you may have grounds to sue. In this case, you should contact a Legal Malpractice lawyer.
It just isn’t a good fit. – Some personalities are better together than others, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly fine to look for a lawyer that’s best suited to you. It’s a good idea to do your research and maybe even meet with a few lawyers before you commit to one. And remember, if you’ve already hired a lawyer, nothing is set in stone.
So, how do I fire my lawyer?
You are fully within your rights to look for another lawyer and doing so is easier than you might think. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Have a look at the contract you signed. – Review your copy of the contract for a termination clause. If there are any specifics around termination notice, timing or anything else, you will need to follow the terms of the contract.
Hire before you fire. – If you are in the middle of legal proceedings, the last thing you want is to have no lawyer. Do your research. Read reviews. Set up a consultation with another potential lawyer (or a few). Once you’ve hired a new lawyer, it’s safe to proceed.
Send a termination letter. – This letter should state that you are ending the lawyer-client relationship and request that your file along with any other materials related to your case be forwarded to your new lawyer. In many cases, your new lawyer may be able to help you with this letter.
Notify the court. – If your case has already been filed with the court, you (or the new lawyer) will need to file a notice of change in representation.
In contingency fee scenarios, both lawyers will typically come to an agreement on fees when the file settles. In most cases, this doesn’t cost the client any more money. If you paid a non-refundable retainer fee, you likely won’t be able to recoup those funds.
Have questions? At Litco Law, it won’t cost you anything to speak to a lawyer. Our caring team will ensure you find you a solution – even if we aren’t it. Just give us a call or fill out our contact form online and we’ll get back to you within one business day. We’re standing by, ready to help.