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Nobody Fires Their Lawyer!
For as important as a lawyer can be when the needs
arises for legal assistance, the business relationship
that's formed between attorney and client must be one
that's founded on trust, integrity and the sharing of a
common goal. When something in this alliance breaks
down, there's sometimes no other option than to seek the
services of a different lawyer ' which means having to
fire the one that's been handling the case until that
point. Certainly, firing someone is never a pleasant
experience, and often brings out the worst in people. If
the relationship has deteriorated to the point where the
very elements of its foundation have been crushed, then
it's time to move on ' but it must be done very
Once the decision has been made to seek new legal
counsel, don't make the mistake of firing your lawyer
before you've secured another one. Good legal
representation can be hard to find ' particularly if
you're immersed in a case that requires someone with a
very specific ' or obscure ' type of specialization.
After the new attorney has been secured, be sure to
instruct your first lawyer to cease all communications
with any parties that are connected with the case.
Make sure you put your request in writing, once the
decision is made, and you have found another attorney.
Then either hand-deliver it to your lawyer or send it
certified letter. You will need to have proof, so you
cannot rely on a verbal confirmation. You will also need
to have an exact day when the relationship ceased to
exist in order that any disputes about fees or services
can be settled. This termination of services letter will
serve as proof.
Within the body of the letter, don't use inappropriate
language or exaggeration of any sort. It's important to
clearly state the reasons for dismissing your lawyer,
including any relevant events ' complete with dates and,
when possible, times. Conversations, too, will be
helpful, if they relate to the reasons for the
termination. Put simply, document everything that
pertains, in any way, to the reasons for firing your
lawyer in a letter and make sure that you can confirm
Especially if your lawyer agreed to any reductions or
waivers, you should document any pre-arranged agreements
regarding fees and payments. Be sure you can itemize
these. As they say, "If it ain't in writing, it ain't.",
so you should make sure that nothing of this was in the
form of a verbal agreement. If it is not written, you'll
probably be held responsible for the full amount of any
services, even if you made some kind of agreement with
the lawyer outside of your contract or retainer.
Even though the letter will be dated, directly state the
termination date of the lawyer and his or her services.
Often, letters can be written after the fact and, if
this should become an issue, you'll have covered all of
your bases within the contents of the letter. Don't be
surprised, though, if you find that it's not as easy to
fire an attorney as what you might have expected.
Sometimes ' particularly if you have a pending court
case ' the judge doesn't allow the termination of legal
counsel, since it might serve to delay the proceedings.
Yes, it is a complex process, but you will eventually be
able to fire a lawyer you are not happy with or who has
not been handling your case to your satisfaction. But if
you been careful throughout the relationship to document
all communication and any problems as they arose, you
can make that process less burdensome for you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stuart Gelboar is the owner of YLawyers.com which is an excellent Internet resource for Lawyer information. For more details please visit