How Many Times Can You Change Lawyers if you feel that he or she’s representing your interest? The law has empowered the client to ensure that he or she gets a quality presentation by the attorney.
When faced by legal challenges, we definitely need to hire a lawyer. However, this is not a guarantee that everything will go as planned.
It is possible for the client-lawyer relationship to break down. If this happens, a client is always allowed to change a lawyer.
For example, a lawyer might fail to gather all the evidence required to win a particular case.
Moreover, as a client, you may later realize that the lawyer does not have the required academic qualification and legal experience to handle the lawsuit successfully.
These reasons warrant for the replacement of an attorney. A client can change the attorney as many times as he or she feels.
So, How Many Times Can You Change Lawyers? Let us look at some of those reasons.
Failure to abide by ethical rules
Law, just like any other profession, is regulated by a variety of regulations. These rules are popularly known as the Professional Code of Conduct.
If as a client you find that the legal advisor has violated one or more of these rules, you have a justifiable reason to change him or her.
Some of the rules of professional conduct:
A good lawyer needs to be competent in the area where he or she is representing the client.
Besides, he or she needs to demonstrate that he or she fully understands the essential aspects of the law regarding that particular area.
If the attorney does not show this competence, then he or she needs to be replaced with a competent lawyer.
Diligence is a critical aspect of law. By diligence, it means that the lawyer is always there for the client in spite of the personal inconveniences which he or she might face as a result of representing the client.
Professional ethics call for the attorney to have a good schedule whereby he or she is in a position to manage all the caseload without inconveniencing any of the clients.
Failure to this, the client can replace the attorney.
Legal practice is guided by client-lawyer confidentiality. All the information that is given to the attorney by the client needs to be kept confidential.
Even though not all information is confidential, the lawyer needs to maintain some degree of confidentiality to protect the client.
Information should not be shared to third parties such as friends, relatives or spouses.
Conflicts of interest
A lawyer should not handle a case in which he or she is a party to. This amounts to conflicts of interest.
Moreover, a lawyer should always distance himself or herself from parties who have conflicting interests.
If this happens, the attorney needs to have written consent from all the parties.
Sometimes, lawyers are used by clients as safe custody of their property. Any property that has been transferred to the lawyer needs to be kept in a safe place and not in the lawyer’s office or house.
In the case of funds, the attorney needs to have separate trust funds accounts. In case a client finds that the lawyer does not observe this, then he or she can replace the attorney.
Lawyers, just like any other professionals, are entitled to get legal fees. In many nations, there is a guideline on what these attorneys can charge their clients.
A client needs to keep track of the cost of litigation. This means that the client needs to have copies of all the transactions with the attorney.
In case these copies are not there, the client can request them from the attorney. Professional ethics dictate that the attorney should not charge the client for clerical support in the course of litigation.
All changes to the hourly or monthly billing need to be agreed by both parties. If the lawyer increases this rate without an agreement, then this a valid reason to replace him or her.
The bill needs to be itemized. As such, the bill needs to indicate the specific task that was performed, its length and costs.
Assignments should not be aggregated together as this might create a loophole which can be used to overbill the client.
If the bill is not itemized, it is up to the client to request for this. If the lawyer does not itemize it, the client has a reason to do away with him or her.
Most importantly, before the commencement of the legal work, the client and the attorney needs to have an engagement letter. This is a legally binding document which details all the terms of engagement and how the work should go on.
The client needs to sign this letter before the beginning of the legal work. It is advisable to always refer to this letter to ensure that the attorney follows.
In case the attorney does not stick to it, then the client needs to seek clarifications. If there are no justifiable reasons, then it is the best item to replace the attorney.
Communication is key
Remember that you have entrusted the lawyer with a critical task which you have a lot of interest.
Thus, there is a need for frequent communication between you and the legal expert. This means that the lawyer needs to respond to your queries, emails, telephone calls and SMS within the shortest item possible.
Also, you need to be prompt in your responses. In case you find that your attorney takes a lot of time to respond to your issues, then you have reasonable grounds to terminate his or her services and seek another attorney who is sensitive to communication.
Most importantly, communication is not enough. You need to go a step further and assess the quality of communication.
As a client, are you comfortable when discussing details with your lawyer? Is he or she intimidating and fails to listen to you? Remember, you need to have a lot of confidence in the lawyer.
As such, do you trust his or response? Do you find the attorney to be evasive of the most critical questions? A good lawyer is the one who inspires confidence and accepts mistakes.
Moreover, he or she needs to acknowledge issues which he or she does not know.
Also, to do with communication, the lawyer needs to be a person who can explain to you the details of your case irrespective of how the case might be complicated.
It does not matter how busy the lawyer is. You are a client, and you have the right to be explained all the details of the case at your request.
The attorney needs to explain to you the whole process of litigation so that you can have a clear picture of what is going on.
If the attorney does not keep you update, then you have all the reasons to dismiss him or her.
The speed of the case
Legal issues take a lot of time to finalize. Moreover, the more time they take, the more money the client spends.
If the case is moving slowly, the client becomes frustrated. It is also worth noting that the attorney is not the only determining factor when it comes to the speed of litigation.
There are also some factors such as the cooperation of the client and how fast the opposing counsel among other issues.
However, this should not be used as a loophole by the counsel to delay cases to make more money. There are signals that your attorney is the cause of the delays.
If the attorney keeps on postponing and rescheduling hearings without giving convincing reasons, then you might be required to find an attorney who is more concerned with your welfare.
Also, a lawyer might be intentionally missing the due dates. This happens when you continuously receive letters from the court or the opposing party stating that your lawyer misses due dates.
If there is no satisfactory reason for this mistake, then it is the best time to change the attorney before you continue spending more money and time.
It is also common to find some lawyers who arrive late for hearings. Others arrive unprepared. Lateness can have a convincing reason.
However, if this happens continuously, then you have to fire the lawyer and work with someone who cares about you.
The quality of the work
Although you might not be a legal expert, there are some issues which you can use to assess the seriousness of your attorney.
As a client, you need to go through all the documents given by your lawyer. Take your time to find whether they have a lot of typos and vulgar language.
If this happens to be the case, then the presentations of your attorney might not go well with the judge, and you may end up losing the case.
The best thing for you to do is to replace the counsel.
As discussed above, we have discussed the issue of How Many Times Can You Change Lawyers if you don’t feel that your Attorney is taking your case seriously or maybe due to the professional conducts discussed above.
Lawyers and clients need to maintain a good working relationship defined by professional ethics and quality work.
The law has empowered the client to ensure that he or she gets a quality presentation by the attorney.
As such, the client can change the lawyer if he or she is not performing as required. It is one of the best ways to build the legal industry.