It’s a fact of the legal life that sometimes clients and lawyers don’t get along. Perhaps your attorney won’t answer your calls or won’t return your messages. Perhaps he doesn’t explain the decisions he’s made in your case. Perhaps he’s given you advice you find inappropriate.
Maybe your personalities just clash. In fact, conflicts in personalities, or values, or approaches to the law may be the most common reason why clients want to fire their lawyers.
If you aren’t satisfied with the legal representation you have been getting, you have the right to fire your attorney and hire a new one. However, changing lawyers in the middle of a case isn’t always a smart idea.
You’re The Boss
The most important principle you should keep in mind is that you are the employer. Your personal injury attorney works for you, at your direction. You have the legal right to terminate an employee if his work is not satisfactory.
Your authority as the boss goes beyond this. You are ultimately in charge of your own legal case. Your lawyer requires your approval before anything is finalized. If you want to accept a settlement offer from the insurance company, your attorney cannot stop you—but he can, and must, warn you against it if he thinks it’s a bad deal.
So before you fire your lawyer for his poor performance, consider whether you are being fair:
- If you don’t like your lawyer’s decisions, you have only yourself to blame. Your lawyer can’t make any permanent commitment unless you sign off on it. You can’t fairly hold him responsible for something you agree to.
- If you don’t understand your lawyer’s advice, ask for a better explanation. You have the right to insist he help you understand the legal principles involved in your case. Part of his job is to convince you that his approach serves your best interests.
- If you understand your lawyer’s advice but just don’t like what he’s saying: tough. Your attorney has the ethical obligation to give you the benefit of his training and experience, even if it’s something you don’t like hearing. You always have the choice to ignore the advice you have been given.
Can you Afford to Fire your Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers in North Carolina generally work on a contingency basis. This means you are not charged for legal representation until the case is resolved by a settlement or damage award.
However, if you fire your lawyer after he’s done work on your case, you will owe money for the legal services he’s provided so far. Depending on the details of your contract with him, you might be billed at his usual hourly rate, or he may claim a percentage of your final settlement. When your case is concluded, you will end up paying both your original lawyer and the attorney you hired to replace him. That could add up to a big chunk of your compensation, leaving you with too little to pay for your medical expenses or lost wages.
So if you have conflict with your attorney, you have to consider carefully if firing him is worth the financial penalty you will face later. And always remember that if you fire a lawyer, another law firm is under no obligation to take on your North Carolina auto accident lawsuit.
Or you could Hire the Right Lawyer in the First Place
At Speaks Law Firm, we have been fired by clients before. And sometimes we have been hired by people who weren’t satisfied with their original choice of representation. It happens in every law practice. We don’t encourage anyone to leave their current lawyers, but we realize that sometimes there is a personality conflict between client and attorney that prevents a working relationship.
Your best option is to get to know your Wilmington car accident attorney before you make the hiring decision. For instance, we provide a free copy of our book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book, to prospective clients so they understand the philosophy and values of our legal team before making a commitment to us. We also offer a FREE, no-obligation consultation so you can meet face-to-face with the attorney who will represent you.