We get a lot of calls from clients who are tired of being ignored by their lawyers and wondering how to fire them and change lawyers. The complaints usually flow like this;
"My lawyer has not called me back and I have no idea what is going on/"
"The only person I talk to is the paralegal/ case manager and they tell me they are still waiting on records after a year/"
"My lawyer won't tell me what the plan is and how much insurance there is"
These are all signs that you have the wrong attorney which begs the questions; how do I change attorneys? Here is what you need to know.
1. If the insurance company has not made an offer, you just send a email or a letter (sample below) firing them and go interview new lawyers in person.
2, If I fire my old lawyer will I have to pay them anything? You may owe a small attorney's fee for the time spent on the case, but in 99% of situations, it is less than $250 and it comes out of the new lawyers fee, so don't worry about it. You do not have to pay the old lawyer anything right now.
3. How do I get a copy of my file? The old lawyer has to give you a copy of the file within a reasonable period of time. If you get new counsel, they will deal with it. If you don't then politely ask the lawyer and if they refuse or stall, tell them you are going to get the State Bar of Georgia involved.
4. Can I still change lawyers if there is an offer on my case? You can always leave but the reality is if the offer close enough to the true value, then no new lawyer will want to work on your car accident case for a tiny fee.
It goes like this. Your old lawyer sends a demand and gets an offer for $10,000. You want to fire them. The old lawyer is entitled to their 33% fee or $3,300. If the case is actually worth $30,000 then a new lawyer would take over and eventually get paid $10,000 (one third) and pay the old lawyer the $3,300 out of the $10,000. You don't lose anything and the new lawyer is happy.
However, if the case is only worth $15,000 the new lawyer would only get paid $5,000 minus $3,300 and would not want to work on a file that only nets her $1700 for a ton of work. Does that make sense? The existing offer has to be low enough that it make sense for the new lawyer to take it on.
SAMPLE LETTER CAN BE SENT WITH EMAIL OR PAPER. BE SURE TO COPY THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER
123 Main Street
RE: Termination of Representation
Dear Attorney Jones
I am terminating your services immediately. I have been calling for months and have received no updates on our status or where the case is headed. I expect good client services and sound legal advice and have received neither. You do not have permission to send any demands on my behalf and I am advising the insurance company that you no longer represent me for this car accident.