What happens if you are unsatisfied with your attorney's performance? Can you replace your attorney? At some point in time, you may be faced with just these questions, as well as many others. However, understanding the do's and don'ts involved with replacing your attorney is vital.
If your case has already been filed, you can still replace your attorney. However, you will likely have to petition the court to allow you to change your attorney. You will also have to show good reason for the court to allow you to switch attorneys so close to trial.
It is your attorney's responsibility to keep you informed of events in your case. However, it is important that you have realistic expectations involving lawyer-client communications. Your case is likely not the only one your attorney is representing; thus, do not expect the attorney to drop everything to speak with you for an hour. The best way to determine if your attorney is not being communicative is to write a letter to them, indicating your thoughts and requesting a written response. If you still fail to receive a response, call the attorney. If you are still unable to communicate with your attorney, it may be time for a change.
This is one of the reasons that you should get a written estimate from an attorney prior to allowing them to represent you. In the estimate, you should have information about hourly fees charged, extra charges, billing cycles, type of fee structure, etc. If you feel that your attorney is charging you inaccurately, refer to this estimate. If the charges are not in accordance with the information provided, you may need to seek out an arbitration organization or even an attorney organization for a ruling on fairness. Inaccurate billing can be a significant reason to change attorneys.
If you believe that your attorney has acted unethically, you can replace your lawyer, as well as file suit with your state's disciplinary agency. Unethical actions on the part of an attorney can result in suspension or even disbarment from practicing law in the state or in the US. However, before you lay claims of unethical actions, consider your case very carefully. As a note, none of these sanctions will get you a refund on fees paid to the attorney.
If your case failed and you believe that it was due to negligence on the part of your attorney, you may be able to file a malpractice lawsuit against him or her. As a note, never trust a lawyer that tells you that your case is a sure thing, a definite winner or cannot be lost. Cases are lost all the time for a variety of different reasons and a competent attorney knows this.