Finding the right lawyer is critical to the outcome of a case or any type of legal action. Staying with the wrong lawyer can have dire consequences that can potentially impact the outcome of a case, and even the rest of your life. Sometimes it can be tricky knowing when to stick with a lawyer or look for someone new.
Staying involved in your own case is imperative. There are often signs that may be missed if you don’t remain actively involved. The following are examples of when it’s time to find a new lawyer and cut your current attorney loose.
Your Lawyer Isn’t Communicating With You in a Timely Manner
Of course what is considered a timely manner differs among people. A busy, successful attorney is not going to be able to communicate with every client on a daily basis, however they will usually have a secretary, associate, or legal assistant keep you informed.
But if you’ve left several emails and phone messages for your attorney and his or her team, and it has been more than a few days since you’ve heard from anyone, it’s safe to say that’s unacceptable behavior from someone you’re paying.
Especially if important dates or deadlines are coming up, you want to make sure your lawyer is there for you, keeping you updated, and constantly working on your case..
Your Lawyer Is Incompetent
My Cousin Vinnie is a funny movie, and it even garnered a few awards, but a lawyer like that in real life would probably seldom win the case. When it comes down to it, you don’t want your real life lawyer learning on the job during your real life case. The results will most likely not be as funny or as favorable.
Most lawyers specialize in certain areas. You may have been recommended a lawyer who was great while handling your friend’s case but seems to be lost while representing your case. This could be due to the nature of your case, or the competency level of your attorney.
Competence may be an issue if the lawyer doesn’t seem very knowledgeable regarding your case or can’t easily answer most of your questions. When you’re fighting a suit or trying to plan one out, you need a lawyer that’s going to bring his A game.
Part of being competent includes being organized and meeting all deadlines. Excluding a life or death emergency it is unacceptable for an attorney to miss a court date. Cancelling appointments with little or no notice also falls into this category. Someone may be a brilliant attorney, but if he or she is this unorganized it’s time to look elsewhere for legal representation.
Your Lawyer Has Broken The Law Or Acted Unethically
If you know your lawyer has tried to influence a judge or a member of a jury, it’s definitely time to cut ties. Providing false evidence or obstructing evidence are also considered to be serious offenses. Even if the lawyer hasn’t specifically broken the law, he or she may have acted unethically.
This may include violating client confidentially, engaging in a personal relationship with the client, or not informing a client if an offer has been made by another party in a lawsuit. Simply put, these behaviors show the lawyer is not interested in your case, or at least not fully focused on it.
Your Lawyer Has Overcharged You
This can sometimes be difficult to determine if you’re not familiar with legal procedures and costs. Understanding legal bills can be as confusing as sifting through medical statements. If you think you’re being overcharged ask for an itemized bill. This should include everything the lawyer has done on your behalf and the time it took to complete each task.
Compare the bill with all the correspondence, pleadings, and court filings regarding your case. Ask your lawyer about any discrepancies. If necessary consult with other lawyers and law firms regarding appropriate fees for various legal services.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that your lawyer is guilty of any of the above, it’s time to find a new attorney. When firing your lawyer, make sure to do so in writing. Send this via registered or certified letter. It’s also a good idea to hire another lawyer before firing the first one.
Not only can you have your new lawyer take care of the firing for you, but you’ll avoid putting yourself in a vulnerable position if it takes longer than anticipated to find a new attorney.
Austin Faux is a copywriter at Wolf Law domestic violence law firm in Colorado. When I’m not on the phone writing intakes or consultation notes I’m at home working on my nerd podcast.