When to Know That You Need a New Lawyer
If you are in the midst of a lawsuit or criminal trial, or simply work a job that required consistent communication with an individual lawyer or legal firm, you’re going to want to know that your lawyer is in your corner at all times. If you’re not confident in that fact, you might be considering parting ways with your current attorney and looking elsewhere for legal guidance.
So, how do you know when is the right time to change lawyers? There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to make that decisions.
Typically, it begins with a lack of communication. Your calls may go unanswered, you may not hear about your case for weeks or even months. You may try to rationalize or defend their lack of communication, telling yourself that they are just very busy or that there is no new news regarding your case. But it isn’t your job to make excuses for them It’s their job to make excuses for you.
So, here are some warning signs to look out for?
- Your calls aren’t being returned within 48 hours, provided you are respecting the lawyer/s time, major holidays, and don’t call several times a week.You have to respect their time just as you expect them to respect yours.
- You are asked to provide documents you have already provided or to fill out forms you’ve already filled out. Of course errors are made depending on how complex your case is, but a good lawyer should always be well organized and keep your files clearly marked so they know what they have from you and know what they might need from you.
- Your lawyer asks for repeatedly for time extensions from the the court without a good reason and without it serving your best interests.
- You are receiving notices from the court or from another party saying that a deadlinehas been missed or that your case is about to be dismissed for lack of activity.
- Documents that have been promised to you that are not ready when they are supposed to be. Of course everyone has emergencies, even lawyers, but if they continue to fail to miss deadlines they have either set your for case or you have set for them, there could certainly be a problem.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is rarely wise to fire a current attorney before you make a move to hire a new one. So before you cut the chord with your lawyer. If you are wanting to make sure that you are making the right decision, it might be wise to contact a different lawyer. Ask them to evaluate your case for you and bring all the contents necessary for them to see the
full scope of your case. If they seem to have a better handle on it than your current lawyer, If they do, it might be a sign that a switch is the right decision for you.
If you are wondering if you should continue working with your current lawyer, another path that you could go down is to respectfully raise the issues you have noticed to their attention. If you feel more comfortable expressing your concerns in writing, send the lawyer a letter or an email. If you prefer an in-face conversation, call for an appointment.
Whichever way you decide works best for you, make sure that you are specific and clear about what is bothering you. List the specific instances where you felt the lawyer did something that raised concern for you. Ask for an explanation and be sure to be open-minded if they offer explanations for their previous lapses.
Regardless of their explanations it is up to you, the client, to decide whether or not you believe your lawyer’s explanations or not. It is important to realize that just because you change attorneys, it doesn’t mean they may be any more helpful or responsive. For example, if your case is moving slowly through the court simply because the court is backlogged, a new lawyer may not move the process along any fast than the old one.
Still, if you really are committed to making a change, there are a number of factors to keep in mind.
- Unless you absolutely have to , do not fire one lawyer before you have identified the next one you plan to hire. If your case has already begun, the judge may not let your old lawyer leave the case until a new lawyer replaces them.
- Try to get referrals for your next lawyers. Call your local bar association and ask for someone who has expertise in the kind of case you are currently going through.
- In most US states, a lawyer is not legally allow to withhold your file from you because of an unpaid bill. However, anything in the file that was created by the lawyer is considered their “work product” and does not need to be provided to the new attorney of your choosing. Only documents you gave the lawyer or those the lawyer received from others have to be turned over to you.
- It is important that you prepare for it to take a bit of time for your new lawyer to get up to speed with your case. If you are expecting an important court date shortly, it is most likely not the right time to make the change.
- It is also good to know that clients who change lawyers more than once often find they have an increasingly difficult time finding new lawyers to take the case. Judges may also grow impatient with your if a client appears to be shopping for lawyers or causing delays in the court’s docket. Changing lawyers can see by other lawyers that you are a difficult client.
Making the ultimate decision to change attorneys can be a difficult one, but finding the right layers can be tantamount to you winning your case. As long as your expectations are
reasonable, you should feel that you can follow your instincts so that you feel comfortable with and confident in your lawyer.