Navigating through a legal case, especially one involving personal injury, can be challenging due to the high stakes and emotional stress. There may be times when the relationship between a lawyer and client doesn’t work out as expected, leaving you with the question(s); “Can I change lawyers in the middle of a case? Is it too late to change lawyers?”
This is a common concern, and it’s important to know your options and rights in such situations.
The decision to hire a new lawyer is not one to take lightly. It involves careful consideration and an understanding of the potential effects of your case. But can it be done in the state of Michigan? Absolutely. Changing attorneys mid-case is not only possible but sometimes necessary for success.
Let’s break down the signs that…
- it might be time to switch lawyers,
- how to find a new lawyer,
- the process of transitioning to a new attorney, and
- the common questions that come up during this decision.
When Is It Too Late to Change Lawyers? Signs It May Be Time to Switch
The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.16(a)(3) states that a “client has a right to discharge a lawyer at any time, with or without cause…”
Deciding to change your attorney during a legal case is a significant decision. Certain signs that it might be time to make the switch include:
Lack of Communication
- Your attorney does not respond to your phone calls, emails, or messages promptly.
- You frequently miss important updates or developments in your case.
Disinterest or Negligence
- Your attorney seems disinterested or distracted during meetings or discussions about your case.
- Missed deadlines or a lack of preparation for court appearances or meetings.
- Any behavior that seems unethical or unprofessional.
- Instances of conflict of interest, where your attorney’s actions may benefit someone else at your expense.
Lack of Progress
- Your case is not moving forward, or there is a continuous delay without a valid reason.
- You believe that your legal strategy lacks a clear definition or follow-through.
- The attorney’s expertise does not align well with the specifics of your personal injury case.
- Lack of experience or knowledge specific to personal injury law in Michigan.
Financial Transparency Issues
- Unclear or unexpected billing practices.
- Lack of clarity about costs and expenses related to your case.
If you experience any of these issues, it may be time to consider a change. This is to ensure that your case is handled with the attention and expertise it deserves.
Choosing A New Attorney and Ensuring a Smooth Transition
Knowing that it’s not too late to change lawyers is a great feeling to have. While choosing a new attorney before letting your current attorney go is generally a wise strategy, notifying them of the change should be done professionally and respectfully. Here’s why and how:
Choosing a New Attorney First
- Continuity of Representation: Having a new attorney ready ensures there’s no gap in legal representation, which is crucial, especially in ongoing cases.
- Seamless Transition: It allows for a smoother handover of case materials and details, minimizing disruptions in your case’s progress.
- Informed Decision: You’ll have the time and space to carefully select an attorney who best fits your needs without feeling rushed due to a lack of representation.
Notifying Your Current Attorney
- Written Communication: Notify your current attorney in writing. A formal letter is often the best approach as it provides a clear and documented record of your decision.
- Professional Tone: Keep the communication professional and courteous. State your decision to change representation and express gratitude for their services thus far, if appropriate.
- Clarify Reasons (Optional): You may choose to briefly mention the reason for the change, especially if it’s logistical, like seeking an attorney with specific expertise. However, this is not mandatory.
- Discuss Case Transfer: Indicate that you have chosen a new attorney and that they will be in contact to arrange the transfer of case files and documents.
- Finalize Financial Matters: Ensure that any outstanding financial matters, such as unpaid fees or expenses, are addressed or clarified in the communication.
Remember, changing attorneys is your right as a client. It’s important to handle the transition in a way that maintains professionalism and respects the legal process.
How is a Case Transitioned to a New Lawyer?
Now that you know that it’s not too late to change lawyers, it’s time to focus on how to transition your case to your new lawyer.
While changing your lawyer during an ongoing case seems daunting, understanding the process can make it manageable and straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how the case transition occurs:
Official Withdrawal of Current Attorney
- Notification to the Court: Your current attorney must formally notify the court of their intention to withdraw from your case.
- Client Consent: In most situations, you, as the client, will need to consent to this change.
- Court Approval: The court may need to approve the withdrawal, ensuring it doesn’t adversely affect your case.
Hiring Your New Attorney
- Consultation and Agreement: After choosing your new attorney, you’ll typically have a consultation, followed by signing a retainer agreement to formalize their representation.
- Notification of Representation: Your new attorney will file a notice with the court and all involved parties to declare they are now representing you.
Transfer of Case Documents
- Requesting Files: Your new attorney will request your case files from your former attorney.
- Review and Update: The new attorney will review these documents to get up to speed and may update or add new materials as needed.
Communicating with Courts and Other Parties
- Formal Notices: Your new attorney will send out formal notices to the court and other involved parties (like the opposing counsel). This is to properly inform them of the change in representation.
- Adjustments in Proceedings: If necessary, the court may adjust deadlines or hearing dates to accommodate the change.
This transition process is designed to be as smooth as possible to minimize the impact on your case. Furthermore, it’s crucial to ensure all steps are followed to maintain the integrity of your case.
Common Questions When Transitioning Attorneys
Changing attorneys during a case can bring up several questions and concerns. Here are some common questions along with clear answers to help you understand the process better:
1. Will Changing Attorneys Delay My Case?
Transitioning to a new attorney can sometimes lead to temporary delays in your case. This is because your new lawyer will require some time to review your case details. Additionally, the court might need to adjust its schedules or deadlines to accommodate your new attorney.
2. What Happens to the Fees Paid to the Previous Attorney?
When you change attorneys, the fees you’ve already paid to your previous attorney generally cover the services they’ve provided up to that point. However, if you had paid a retainer fee initially, you should expect to receive a refund for the unused portion of this fee.
However, the specifics of these financial transactions can vary, so it’s important to review the fee agreement you had with your previous attorney. This agreement will detail the terms of payment and refunds.
3. Can the New Attorney Refuse to Take My Case?
Attorneys exercise professional discretion in deciding whether to take on a new case. Often, their decision is heavily influenced by factors such as the type of case, their current workload, or potential conflicts of interest.
During your initial consultation, a new attorney will evaluate your case to determine if they can represent you. If an attorney decides not to take your case, it’s important not to be discouraged. Instead, find an attorney who aligns with your specific legal needs and is fit to effectively handle your case.
It’s Never Too Late to Change Lawyers: Choose the Right Path in Your Michigan Personal Injury Case
It’s critical to have the right attorney by your side in a Michigan personal injury case. The right legal representation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, providing not just legal expertise but also peace of mind.
As you consider if you should change lawyers in the middle of a case, remember that our team stands ready to offer their extensive experience and personalized service in personal injury law.
Since 1997, Wigod & Falzon has held a reputation for providing expert legal advice and representation for personal injury cases in Michigan. Our approach combines a deep understanding of the law with a commitment to the unique needs of each client, ensuring that your case is handled with the care and attention it deserves. At our office, losing is not an option.
Additionally, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the costs and fees of an attorney handling the case are paid with a percentage of the settlement or judgment you receive from your case.
Simply put, no recovery = NO FEE.
Choosing the right attorney is a crucial decision, and with Wigod & Falzon, you can be confident that your case is in capable and caring hands. Schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about how we can assist you.
The information provided in this blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this site, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting based on any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this blog contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts, or settlements. Wigod & Falzon expressly disclaims all liability concerning actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this blog.