Clients are generally free to change lawyers at any time. (Although, if you are about to begin a trial in your case, a judge may refuse to allow you to switch lawyers.) However, there are some drawbacks to doing so. First, it may take extra time for your new lawyer to get up to speed in your case. Second, you might take a financial hit, as both your old lawyer and new lawyer will need to get paid. However, this depends on several factors, including your fee agreement, state law, and how much work your old lawyer did on your case.
If you’re not able to fix your problems with your lawyer, you should start looking for a new one immediately. This time around, be sure to do your research. Meet with each potential lawyer and ask questions, especially about issues that concerned you with your last lawyer. You should also contact your state’s disciplinary board to see if the lawyer has a history of ethics violations.
Once you select a new lawyer, send your old lawyer a certified letter terminating the attorney-client relationship and asking for your client file. If you’re having trouble getting your file from your old lawyer, your new lawyer can assist you. To learn more on this topic, see our article on how and when to fire your lawyer.