How Do I Know If It’s Time to Hire a Different Lawyer?

How Do I Know If It’s Time to Hire a Different Lawyer?

The decision to change attorneys is a costly one.  It takes an emotional toll when you are already emotionally vulnerable.  It takes a financial toll and it takes a toll on your time when all you want is to get this process over.  You will have to go through getting to know your new attorney and how his office works.  Your new attorney will need time to get up to speed on your case, which will cost you money.  All of this will most likely delay the proceedings.

Nevertheless, if you feel your current counsel is not adequately representing your interests or if you feel that you can no longer work with that lawyer (sometimes called a breakdown of the attorney/client relationship), you might be well served by changing attorneys and should not hesitate. The sooner you act, the more likely you will be able to ensure that your rights are protected and that you have an attorney in whom you have faith and can trust to represent your interests.

Before you go through the expense and trouble of hiring a new attorney, you should take a hard look at your case and ask yourself some things:

  • Have I expressed my concerns to my attorney?  I mean, have you calmly and reasonably talked with your attorney about what is bothering you and not tried to get attention by being rude or demanding to the attorney or the office staff.  (FYI – that is never effective at getting a response you want.)
  • When I expressed my concerns, did my attorney take steps to remedy the situation?  This would apply whether we are talking about moving the case forward or simply handling an issue of communication between you and your attorney.
  • Is my lawyer open and receptive to what I have to say or does he get defensive?  Again this might depend on how your present your problem to the attorney, but attorney’s are professionals and should not get their feelings hurt if you are expressing a legitimate concern.
  • Am I blaming my lawyer for the bad behavior of my spouse or opposing counsel?  Try as you might, there is no way to litigate someone into not being a jerk.  Don’t blame your lawyer.
  • Have I provided my lawyer with all of the information he needs to take the next action in my case?  As a lawyer, it is impossible to go into battle with an unloaded gun.  Give your attorney all of the ammunition he/she needs.  You have responsibilities in this case as well.
  • Am I blaming my lawyer for things over which he/she has no control?  Sometimes, the law just is not on your side.  Make sure you ask whether it is your lawyer’s fault or if it is the law or even the judge that govern’s the outcome.
  • Is my lawyer keeping promises for completing action on my case?  Basically, is the lawyer doing what he says he is going to do?
  • Do I trust my lawyer?  Much like in a marriage, once the trust is gone, you need to go elsewhere.  Remember, you are putting your future and the future of your family in this person’s hands.
  • What are the relative advantages of hiring a new attorney compared to the costs?  Weigh out the pros and cons of changing lawyers.
  • Do I feel like my lawyer will support me to achieve my goals in this case?  Has my lawyer ever even asked me what my goals are?

You should make every effort to avoid changing attorneys in the middle of your case.  It can make a difficult situation even tougher.  There is an old adage that says you should never change horses mid-stream, but you might be on a horse that just can’t swim.  If that is the case, you should probably find yourself a canoe.

Photo courtesy of Stephen

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