If you’ve ever been in a situation where you have needed to fire someone, you know it’s not the easiest thing to do. But when it comes to firing your family lawyer, the process is fairly straightforward and should be kept as professional as possible, which can sometimes take some stress out of the situation.
Why Fire Your Divorce Lawyer?
After spending time considering which lawyer to hire for your case in the first place, making the decision to move on can be challenging. However, ultimately, you can choose to fire your lawyer for any reason. Common reasons include:
- Personality Differences: At the beginning of the case, you may have thought you wanted a tough and aggressive lawyer. And while these traits are often desired in a family lawyer, when an attitude or abruptness is directed at you, it can be unsettling and difficult to continue a professional relationship. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your lawyer or don’t get along for whatever reason, it is probably best in the long run to find representation elsewhere.
- You Don’t Like How They’re Handling the Case: Each family law case is unique and each lawyer may have different approaches or techniques. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one approach is better or more effective than another. However your lawyer is handling your case, if you don’t feel comfortable with it, you may want to address this with them first to determine their reasoning; however, if it seems like nothing will change, you can fire them and move on.
- Communication Issues: A great family lawyer should always communicate in an efficient, effective, honest, and respectful way. If you are unable to get a hold of your lawyer in a timely manner, if they are not providing adequate information or guidance, or you simply have a hard time discussing the case, these problems can affect the outcome of the case and can definitely affect your experience throughout the case.
- Inexperience: If you find that your divorce attorney doesn’t have the family law or courtroom experience you would hope, especially if your case is particularly complicated or messy, you may want to work with a more experienced law firm who can provide you with a lawyer who does have the necessary experience. Your case might just be another folder on your lawyer’s desk, but an experienced attorney will have the resources and skill to effectively handle your case in a personalized way.
- Costs: Typically, a family lawyer will discuss costs and fees at the very beginning so that everyone is in an agreement before any work begins. If you find that you’re being charged in a way that wasn’t agreed upon, or have to pay fees that were unexpected, you may want to consider going to a different firm or work with a different lawyer who can be upfront and honest about costs.
- Unethical Activity: In most cases, you can fire a lawyer and the reason won’t warrant contacting the state bar association; however, if your lawyer is conducting work in an unethical manner, it can be reported to the bar association and the lawyer may face consequences. Examples of unethical activity are divulging confidential information, extortion, or issuing a threat.
The Process of Firing Your Lawyer
Communicating to your lawyer that you want to end the relationship should be done in writing, either with a letter or an email. You don’t need to provide specific details, simply state that you want to seek representation elsewhere and you request that they withdraw from your case.
Your lawyer will then need to file a request with the court to be removed from your case. The request should include a brief explanation, but should not provide any specific details regarding your case. The request should also include any upcoming court dates, hearings, or filing deadlines. In most cases, the court will approve the request; however, if your case is too close to a court date, the request may be denied. The reasoning for this is that your new lawyer may not have adequate time to familiarize themselves with your case and the court may not want to extend the length of the case.
There will also need to be a substitution of counsel document filed. This is a notice to the court that is signed by your previous lawyer, your new lawyer, and yourself and simply states that the case is being turned over to new representation. Once filed, the court will issue an order acknowledging the change in attorney.
Your previous lawyer is still entitled to be paid for the services provided, whether it’s a percentage of the fee or an hourly rate based on the amount of time spent on your case. Seeking new representation does not waive any costs that were incurred from the previous lawyer.
Before making the final decision to fire your family lawyer, keep in mind that nearly all attorneys work multiple cases at any given time. If the reason for firing your lawyer is poor communication, remember that they may be held up in court for another case, in a deposition, or various other circumstances. In most cases, lawyers will have a paralegal or secretary that can give them a message when they do become available. Even though firing a lawyer isn’t an overly complicated process, the decision should not be taken lightly and any issues should be addressed with your lawyer before making the decision to fire them.
Work With the Law Offices of Diron Rutty
The Law Offices of Diron Rutty has been providing residents of New York City and Poughkeepsie with dedicated legal services since 1995. With over 25 years of experience in family law, real estate, estate planning, and immigration, we believe we can offer knowledgeable, skilled, and passionate service for a variety of cases.
During an initial consultation, we will discuss the basics of your case and the charges and fees for providing service. We guarantee that we will be upfront and honest about our fees, our experience, our work ethic, communication style, and more, to ensure that you fully understand the scope of what we can do for you.
If you’re facing a divorce, work with a family law firm who understands the legal system and how to fight hard for your rights. Contact us today in New York City for a consultation.