You can always fire your lawyer, you may do so simply by indicating (preferably in writing) to your lawyer that you no longer desire their services. However, there are few steps your lawyer must take in order to discontinue representing you and you may incur a few more fees in order for the attorney to accomplish withdrawing as your lawyer. Further, it is possible that you attorney may retain your documents until they have been paid in full. You also want to be cognizant of how much money you owe the lawyer or how much you have in retainer with that lawyer. It is almost always true that hiring a new lawyer will almost certainly cost more than keeping the one you have (unless the one you have is exceptionally expensive).
Before making the decision to fire you lawyer, you should ask yourself why you are considering that move?
Here are a few good reasons to fire your lawyer:
1. Your lawyer does not return phone calls - you should be able to hear back from your attorney within 24, even if it is to tell you that she/he is in trial and can't talk until later in the week.
2. Your lawyer have missed deadlines - missing deadlines is completely unacceptable, though we are human and mistakes do happen, missing a deadline is a major issue for a lawyer.
3. Your lawyer has failed to keep you informed about MAJOR events in your case in a timely manner - Your attorney should let you know about major happenings within a couple of days of the event occurring, maybe sooner under certain circumstances. You should also be able to get an update on what is happening with your case within 24 hours of requesting an update.
4. Your lawyer seems to not really have adequate knowledge of the law pertaining to your case - No attorney can know everything, we all have to look stuff up, so having an attorney tell you they don't know is not a bad thing. But if your divorce attorney seems to not know the basics about child support, or can't explain it to you in a concise way, you may want to consider other options.
5. You feel you cannot communicate with your lawyer or that you attorney does not understand your perspective - Any good Attorney is going to tell you things you don't want to hear from time to time but instead need to hear. The law will not always favor your perspective, but it is important that a lawyer understand your perspective and be able to communicate with you about what you want, what is reasonable to expect and how to go about getting there. If you can't get those things from your lawyer, you might want to consider moving in a different direction.
Here are a few bad reasons for considering firing your attorney:
1. You attorney tells you things you don't want to hear - as stated above, The law will not always favor your perspective, but it is important that a lawyer understand your perspective and be able to communicate with you about what you want, what is reasonable to expect and how to go about getting there. Our job is to advocate for you and make sure you have reasonable expectations and get the most of what you want and least of what you don't.
2. Your attorney seems to be cooperating with the other side - the old saying that you catch more flies with honey is really true and never more applicable than in a legal manner. Being rude, and creating conflict is hardly ever going to benefit your client in the long run. You want an attorney who can get you as close to your goals as possible and almost always cooperating and behaving professionally is going to further this goal.
3. Your attorney doesn't seem to be filing as many papers as the other side - some attorneys do what we call "paper bombing" filing numerous documents at once or scattered over time. Just because your attorney is not doing this doesn't mean they aren't working, they may actually be saving you money by filing less unnecessary stuff. The volume of papers filed is not a standard by which to judge the value of your attorney.
4. There are clerical mistakes on drafts sent to you for review - while numerous mistakes should be cause for concern and could be indicative of a sloppy practice, no attorney is perfect, we all make mistakes and most of us are running busy practices and trying to get as much done for you as we can in a short period of time. Most of us send clients papers and ask them to review them, that is because you know your information much better than we do and can catch clerical errors, like a mistake on a birth date where we cannot.
As a final note on this subject, having many attorneys sends a bad message both to future attorneys and to Judges. If you have had 3+ attorneys and are still not happy, it is likely you are evaluating your attorneys incorrectly and possible that your expectations are not reasonable.
If you are looking for a new attorney, we are happy to provide you with a free phone consult, but many times, we advise prospective clients as discussion to stick with the attorney they have.