My Personal injury Lawyer Won’t Call Me Back, Can I Switch?
One of the most common scenarios I see is someone who has been injured in an accident, hires an attorney and then never hears back as to the status of their case. This leads to confusion about where they stand and they wonder …
In a word, yes. As a consumer of legal services, you are entitled to be represented by the legal counsel of your choice. All persons who are licensed to practice law in the Golden State are mandated to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules require the following:
- CA Rule of Conduct 4-100: This requires an attorney to maintain all property of the client (including file materials) and requires that the law practitioner promptly deliver all such property upon reasonable request.
- CA Rule of Conduct 3-700: This requires a member of the State Bar of California to promptly release to the client, at the request of the client, all the client papers and property and to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client’s claim is not prejudiced upon termination of employment by the client.
Upon deciding that it is “time for a change” of counsel, the client can seek out a new lawyer. Once they are satisfied that the new attorney will begin prosecuting their case and communicating with them about it, all they need to do is sign a new retainer agreement and a disclosure that they are terminating the prior attorney-client relationship and authorizing the new counsel to be provided with all prior files. Once this is done, the new legal counsel simply sends a letter to the old one, which advises of the change. The client doesn’t have to speak with the old attorney or do anything further.
Our firm routinely substitutes into cases where client’s are not satisfied with the level of representation they are receiving. There are any number of recent examples. In one recent case, the client had not heard from his lawyer for months and could only speak with a “secretary” or “paralegal” every time he called their office. He was also not satisfied that the counselor was moving forward on his case and/or communicating with him about the case. He came to us, we made a change and we were able to prosecute the case fully. Even though the case took close to two years to complete, we kept him informed at each stage of the game as to what was going on and what we were doing to get the claim resolved. Ultimately, the matter was concluded with a seven figure settlement and the client was very glad he decided to change lawyers and hire our firm.