Many potential clients have consulted with me while they are represented by another lawyer. Of course, they ask me: Can I drop my current lawyer? The simple answer is “yes.” You can always fire your current lawyer. The bigger issue is how you should go about it. The typical Dallas personal injury lawyer take cases on a “contingency fee” arrangement. That means that the lawyer is paid a percentage of any recovery obtained in either a settlement or after a trial. If there is no recovery, then there is no fee. But if there is a recovery, then the settlement check is usually mailed to your lawyer’s office and is made payable to you and your lawyer jointly. Why is this? When you signed your contingency fee agreement, you not only agreed to pay a percentage for attorney’s fees, you actually assigned a percentage of your case to your lawyer. That means your lawyer owns a part of your case.
However, like I said earlier, you always have the right to discharge your lawyer. The issue is what happens to the part of your case that you assigned. If you fire your lawyer for “good cause,” then your lawyer cannot enforce the assigned percentage, but can only enforce a fair fee. But if your discharge your lawyer without good cause, then you still may owe the entire percentage if you end up settling your case. This is true whether you hire another lawyer or not. If you do hire another lawyer, you could end up owing a percentage to two different lawyers.
Firing a lawyer for good cause can mean many different things. Maybe your lawyer does not maintain proper communication. Or maybe he is not pursuing your case with the proper diligence. These are just some examples of things a lawyer can do that might rise to the level of good cause.
So, who decides if your lawyer is being fired for good cause? Well, no one really decides. Usually, if you decide to fire your lawyer, then your second lawyer will probably try to work out a fee-split arrangement with your previous attorney in order to avoid you paying two separate fees. After all, your previous attorney would have an incentive to do this since there is a better chance of getting some recovery if you hire another lawyer. Without another lawyer, everyone runs the risk of ending up empty handed.
Before deciding whether to fire your current lawyer, you should consult with another lawyer first. If you have any questions about whether you should change lawyers, contact Dallas / Fort Worth personal injury lawyer, Robert C. Slim, for more information and a free consultation at (214) 321-8225.