You hire an attorney to be your advocate. But sometimes the relationship doesn’t work out and you need to find new representation. If you’re thinking about firing your lawyer before your case concludes, you need to act fast.
Here are the steps you must complete before a LegalASAP attorney can provide a free claim review and potentially take over your case.
How to Fire Your Lawyer and Get a New Attorney In 4 Steps
1. Prepare your case.
Before you contact your attorney, make a list of the reasons you want to end the engagement, such as:
- Not returning phone calls or emails
- Failing to communicate for long periods
- Not keeping you updated on the case
- Loss of confidence in their ability to handle your case
2. Notify your attorney.
In a formal letter, state your decision and the reasons for it. (Click the link to see a “How to Fire Your Lawyer” sample letter to use as your guide.) Request a copy of your files (including all correspondence and documents filed with the court or recorded with a government agency) and repayment of any remaining balance of your retainer, if you paid one. Keep the tone matter of fact and calm. Do not make threats. Have a notary notarize your letter and send it via registered mail. These last two steps may feel inconvenient or unnecessary. However, this is the best way to ensure your lawyer gets the message and that you are serious about the decision. Do not deliver this news via phone or email as these are not considered “formal” channels of communication in this case.
Pro Tip: You may have charges against your retainer that have not yet been billed at the time you fire your lawyer. In most retainer agreements, you must pay for all services rendered until formal severance is requested. That’s why the notarized and certified letter is so important.
3. Get your money.
A reputable attorney will refund any remaining retainer amount within 30 days — often sooner. If you don’t receive the funds, send another letter. Reiterate your decision, demand prompt repayment and outline the actions you’ll take if your lawyer doesn’t pay the money back, including:
- Reporting the firm to the Better Business Bureau
- Reporting the attorney to the state bar association
4. Find new representation.
It’s important to engage a new attorney as soon as possible — and definitely before your next court date. If you don’t have new representation, your case could be dismissed and you’ll have to start the entire process over again. Make your expectations for communication and service clear to help avoid another unsatisfying experience.
Pro Tip: You may want to have another attorney review the actions of your original lawyer. They can offer advice on paying outstanding bills, filing a formal complaint or, in extreme cases, suing for malpractice.
Firing your lawyer is a big decision that can impact your case. Make the decision carefully and choose a new attorney with care.
To find new representation once you fire your lawyer, select the legal area that covers your claim or call 1-888-927-3080.
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.