When a lawsuit is filed and an attorney is chosen to represent an individual in the lawsuit, that attorney may not always be the attorney throughout the entire proceedings. The main thing that needs to be remembered is that the lawsuit is not the attorney’s case, it is in fact the client’s case. The client is in fact that one in charge of how the case proceeds and it’s ultimately up to you if you want to change lawyers mid-case. While it is unusual for an attorney to not see the end of a lawsuit, there can be many reasons for why switching lawyers might occur.
First, as mentioned above, the client is in charge and can chose to terminate the relationship with the attorney at any point during the course of representation. This is an absolute right that the client maintains at all points during the lawsuit. The client can discharge the attorney or switch attorneys for any reason at all.
Second, on the flip side, the attorney does not have the absolute right to withdraw during the lawsuit. While the attorney can withdraw from the case, very specific reasons are required in order for the attorney to withdraw. Some of these reasons include a client’s failure to make payments, conflicts of interest, and a client’s participation in fraudulent or criminal activities. However, if an attorney is allowed to withdraw, the attorney still owes a duty to the client. The attorney still must protect confidential information, treat the client in a fair way, and protect the client’s interest.
If there is an attempted changing of attorney during the middle of a case, there are a few things that must occur. First, the change of attorney must not harm the client in any way. This means, typically, the attorney will not be allowed to withdraw right before trial as this would be harmful to the client. Second, the former attorney is entitled to compensation for the amount of work they performed up to the point of withdrawal or discharge. Next, the work that the former attorney did will be passed along to either the client or the new attorney. Last, as always, any communication between an attorney and a client will remain confidential between the parties.
If you’re not happy with your current representation, talk to one of our attorneys. We’ll be glad to review your lawsuit and give you our thoughts on how to best win your case.