The attorney-client relationship was conceived as being beneficial to both parties (just like the relationship between a defendant and a knowledgeable bail bond agent is beneficial to both parties). The client gains the experience and labor of the attorney and the attorney advocates for the client in return for financial compensation. But sometimes these relationships can get rocky, causing clients to consider dismissing their counsel. Let’s look at some important things to consider if you are thinking about firing your current representation.
Consider Your Reasons Carefully
Ideally, a client and attorney should work seamlessly together, but in the real world, this isn’t always the case. For example, you may feel like your attorney is falling short in one or more key areas. Maybe you feel that your lawyer has been dishonest with you, has provided inadequate representation, has stopped communicating with you, or is incompetent. Or perhaps your personalities just don’t “click.” Whatever the reasons, consider them carefully. Changing attorneys, especially in mid-case, can be problematic. Another lawyer may be reluctant to pick up where the first left off, especially if there are heavy liens against any possible gains. You also don’t want to be branded a “problem client,” as this could damage your ability to retain representation in the future.
Check Your Contract
The next important step is to review your present contract. Most will contain specific information on the terms required to end the attorney-client relationship. Early termination may allow the attorney to charge you added fees. Be clear about what costs you might incur by firing your lawyer now, and weigh these against the potential gains of engaging new counsel.
Address Your Concerns with Your Attorney
If you haven’t yet done so, outline your grievances on paper or electronically and go over them with your attorney. Sometimes a lawyer may be quite busy and may remain unaware of your feelings. Suggest some strategies for addressing your concerns. Your lawyer may also have some ideas that will allow you to preserve your arrangement to your mutual satisfaction. Even if you cannot preserve the relationship and decide to seek another attorney, documenting your grievances can help you define what characteristics in a lawyer are most important to you—such as prompt response to communications, aggressiveness in court, experience, or commitment to your case.
Consider a Second Opinion
If you have reviewed your grievances with your lawyer and still find yourself at an impasse, seek out the opinion of another attorney. Describe your situation, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. The answers you receive will help you make more informed decisions about your representation—whether or not you decide to fire your current counsel.
Make the Leap
If after exhausting all options, you still believe it’s in your best interests to fire your attorney, you may want to engage with new counsel before breaking with the old. A quick (and often free) consultation can help you select an attorney who’s more in line with your expectations. Once you’ve secured counsel, you may announce formally to your lawyer that you are ending the relationship. The official notice should be provided in writing and agreed upon by both parties. Remember also to request copies of any file pertinent to your case—these will serve as an important guide to the attorney taking over your case.
At Bond James Bond, we understand that dealing with the criminal justice system can be stressful and sometimes frustrating. Our experienced bond agents can make the process easier by explaining your obligations, walking you through the process, and ensuring that you make all scheduled court appearances. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, call Bond James Bond, and let us give you the peace of mind you deserve.
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