How to Fire a Lawyer

Deciding on a lawyer to hire when you have legal issues is difficult enough, but when you run into issues with your lawyer, you may be wondering if you have the ability to fire them. This decision can be equally stressful, and it’s not something that you should take lightly. 

In this article, we give you tips for firing your lawyer if you’ve determined this is the best course of action and some reasons why firing your lawyer might be the best solution to your legal counsel problems.

Reasons to Fire Your Lawyer

Firing your lawyer isn’t a choice that you should make on a whim, and you should take the time to really think about what makes you and your lawyer an improper fit before making this decision. Of course, there are some very valid reasons to fire your lawyer that might make this decision a little easier for you; we list some of these reasons below.

Mishandling Your Case

Mishandling your legal case is a big deal, and any reputable lawyer will do their best to collect the facts of the case and use their legal experience to create an argument in your favor. 

A lawyer who doesn’t pay attention to the details of the case, one who asks you to lie or fabricate items in court, or one who simply doesn’t put their legal expertise to use is typically not a lawyer that you should be trusting with your important legal matters.

Lack of Communication

Communication is highly important in all things legal, and when you hire a lawyer, the expectation is that they will keep you updated with their progress on the case and respond to any questions or concerns you have while the case is ongoing. 

If you are having trouble getting into contact with your lawyer, or if you are struggling to get answers about the progress of your case, this is a very good reason for not wanting to continue with your lawyer.

Suspicious Billing Practices

Any bills and statements that you receive from your lawyer should be clear and easy to read; if you have questions or concerns, you should be able to speak with your lawyer and reference their notes on why you are being charged the way you are. 

You should also be able to review your contract for additional billing and fee structure details – any suspicious billing practices, lack of communication about billing, or refusal to discuss billing and fees should be a red flag for your lawyer.

Lack of Experience For Your Case

Prior experience in the type of law you need for your case to be handled properly is essential if you want to have the best chance of succeeding in your legal issues. A lawyer without any experience in the type of law you need attempting to take your case, or a lawyer who lies about their experience in a specific type of law is likely not a good fit for your legal needs. 

If you discover after hiring a lawyer that their legal specialization isn’t a good fit, this is a good reason for firing your lawyer.

Inattention and Disorganization

Lawyers who don’t take your case seriously, those who show up to court disorganized, and those who don’t pay attention to your case are considered less than professional. This type of lawyer may be acting negligently, and they may not be putting your best interests first, which is an essential in the client-lawyer relationship. 

You may find that after repeated problems with inattention and disorganization, it’s time to fire your lawyer.

Steps to Fire Your Lawyer

The following steps are a general guideline for what you might need to do in order to fire your lawyer. Make sure that you also consult state guidelines on filing complaints against your lawyer or reach out to another lawyer for a second opinion on your legal matters as part of this process.

Read Your Contract

Reading the contract you initially signed with your lawyer is your first step to determining how to fire your lawyer. This contract will typically have information about what is considered a fire-able offense for both parties, and you may be able to find further details on whether or not you will still need to pay your lawyer’s fees after they are fired. 

If you have any concerns about your contract, you might need to seek additional legal counsel to understand what your next steps should be.

Explore Alternative Legal Counsel Options

Before you officially fire your lawyer, you will need to explore alternative legal counsel options, especially if your legal case is still ongoing. It’s important that you don’t fire your lawyer without completing this step, as you might end up with the issue of not being able to find another lawyer quickly enough and your case still proceeding through the legal system.

Consulting alternative legal counsel may also be a great way to get a second opinion on your lawyer’s behavior and whether or not their practice is negligent or unprofessional in any way.

Compose a Termination Letter

Once you’ve decided to fire your lawyer, you should be composing an official termination letter. The firing needs to be in writing and kept for your records, as well as submitted to your lawyer and their office for their records. Make sure you understand any details that you need to include according to your contract with your lawyer and be sure to obtain your file from your lawyer. 

You should also attach the information of your new lawyer at the bottom of the letter so your legal information can be sent to the appropriate party.

Notify the Court When Necessary

If your case has already gone to trial, you will need to notify the court that your lawyer is changing. Your new lawyer will be in charge of filing the correct legal paperwork to make the substitution of your legal counsel, and your old lawyer will be required to withdraw from the case.

Is It a Good Idea to Fire My Lawyer?

If your lawyer is mishandling your case or acting unprofessionally or negligently, firing them might be a good idea. Replacing your lawyer with one better suited to your needs may give you a better chance of succeeding with your legal case and ensuring that you don’t have stress throughout this process.

However, if you decide to fire your lawyer for reasons such as not liking their personality or because of another personal issue, despite your lawyer being professional and handling your case appropriately, this may not be looked on favorably. Firing your lawyer mid-trial might also raise eyebrows with the judge or cause your case to slow down as your new lawyer becomes caught up with the details of the case.

Ultimately, the decision to fire your lawyer is a highly personal one, and it’s important that you weigh both pros and cons before making your final choice.

Can I Represent Myself?

Depending on the legal issue at hand, you may be able to represent yourself. That being said, some complex legal issues and criminal legal issues typically need a lawyer’s assistance to ensure you are getting the best deal or settlement you can depending on the circumstances.

If the legal process is interesting to you, you may want to consider a career change to something in the legal field – LSATMax can help you prepare yourself for law school and a legal career with LSAT tutoring and helpful exam prep.

Ensuring Your Legal Case is Handled Professionally

Seeing a legal issue through from start to finish is often a stressful process, and this process is made more difficult when you have concerns about your lawyer and how they are handling your case. 

We recommend carefully reviewing your lawyer’s actions and how they might be affecting your case before deciding whether or not to fire your lawyer and seek more professional or competent legal counsel.