So, you want to fire your attorney (for the purpose of this article you are not in trial yet with your matter)? Contrary to what some think, you can fire your attorney. With that said, there are other things that you should make sure that you understand when thinking about going this route. Usually for most clients when the thought of firing their attorney comes up there is a breakdown in the attorney client relationship.
In this educational article I will explain some of the issues you may want to take into consideration when the question comes up, “So you want to fire your attorney.” Remember, the information that I am providing is general in nature and you should talk with your attorney about specific questions you may have about your situation.
ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS I HEAR FOR FIRING AN ATTORNEY…
From time to time, I will get calls to my office about a person looking to fire their attorney. Because the person is already represented, there is little I can usually do to assist them. With that said, most of the time, before the end of the conversation, I will be told that “communication” related issues are at the heart of the problem. In other words, the client will have issues with how information is being passed from the attorney to them about the issues and progress of the case.
When this is the issue, one of the things that I suggest is that the client look to get a meeting with the attorney and discuss the communication issues. In some cases, both sides may not even know that communication issues are present. If this is what is going on in your situation, this may be a way to fix the issues present.
Below, I will also get into another issue that may not be immediately on the minds of a client looking to fire their attorney. This is because it may invoke a concept many in the public may not be familiar.
SO YOU WANT TO FIRE YOUR ATTORNEY?
As a client, it is your right to fire your attorney. Usually there will be language in your fee agreement that talks about termination of representation. What some people do not understand is that in some cases, the attorney who has been fired will request to be paid for work performed up until the moment of termination by the client. Like I said above, the fee agreement that was signed at the start of representation will usually talk about how this will play out.
In some cases, such as contingency fee cases, the attorney will not get paid their fee until the end of the case, assuming the case is won. In cases like this, an attorney might use either the language in the fee agreement as guidance as to how the payment will work. If this does not provide clarity, a legal concept of quantum meruit might be used where applicable.
The point is that in some cases, even though an attorney is fired, they will still want to get paid for the work they have performed and have not been paid. So, if the point of firing the attorney is, as one person put it, “so they don’t get a penny of my money if I fire them!” may not work.
Remember, you can fire your attorney, you just need to be sure that you have thought about all of the issues which may be present when doing this.
Marcus B. Boston, Esq.
2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
1-833-4 BABY HELP