Unlike personal relationships, a client-lawyer relationship is a working relationship that is conditional upon the lawyer’s ability to fulfill their professional duties. As a client, you have the right to terminate a working relationship if you have any qualms about how they’re handling your case or how they’re treating you as a valued client.
However, many people can feel uncomfortable about firing their lawyer or seeking legal representation elsewhere. It can also be difficult to know how to go about terminating your working legal relationship in a way that is civil, yet firm.
In general, a client-lawyer relationship ends when a case is settled. However, if you feel at any time that your lawyer is failing to fulfill their duties or is behaving unethically, it is your right to seek a lawyer that is better able to suit your needs.
Before writing a termination letter to your lawyer, consider these questions:
- Why do you want to fire your lawyer?
- Is there any way they can better meet your needs without you terminating their services?
- Do you have another lawyer in mind?
- Will changing lawyers have a negative impact on your case?
- Have you signed any agreement detailing how or when you can fire your lawyer?
- Do you need the court’s permission before firing your lawyer?
If you’re certain about your decision to seek legal representation elsewhere, the most effective way to terminate a client-lawyer relationship is to write a termination letter. Here are some useful tips for writing an assertive termination letter and a generic sample of a termination letter.
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Tips For Writing A Termination Letter To Your Lawyer
If you’re unsatisfied with your lawyer’s work performance, or have ethical concerns, consider these tips for writing a termination letter to your lawyer.
1. Get Straight To The Point
There’s no need to waste anyone’s time by writing an introductory paragraph about why you are deciding to end your working relationship. That is best suited for your second paragraph, where you can provide a brief explanation as to why you have decided to terminate their services.
Make sure your lawyer knows the purpose of the letter within the first couple lines. If you’re not straightforward in your letter, it’s possible your lawyer may even skim through it, not realizing that you are writing to terminate your use of their services.
2. Be Firm
The last thing you want to do when writing a termination letter is allow any room for uncertainty or negotiation. By this point, you’re likely feeling resolute in your decision to seek legal representation elsewhere. Make sure this comes across in your letter.
3. Make Your Case Plainly
Don’t worry about using any special language or legal jargon to get your point across. Stick to language that is simple, assertive, and to the point. You don’t want your lawyer to question anything you’ve said, or for anything to be unclear.
4. Don’t Be Spiteful
Regardless of why you’re choosing to terminate your use of their services, it’s in your best interest to remain civil when writing a termination letter. Be firm, and ensure they understand why you’re seeking legal help elsewhere, but keep the tone formal and forthright.
If you have a significant issue with your lawyer that’s inspired feelings of spite or anger, consider writing another letter to your local Bar Association to express concerns about your lawyer’s professional conduct.
4. Acknowledge Your Responsibility For Applicable Lawyer Fees
If you owe your lawyer any money for legal work they’ve provided up to this point, acknowledge that you understand your responsibility for paying their fees. Depending on the details of your working relationship with your lawyer, this may not be applicable.
Ensure you’re aware of any fees owed before sending your letter in order to avoid potential awkwardness and unnecessary confusion.
5. Get A Copy Of Your Case File
One of the last things to include in your letter is a request for your case file. If you’re prematurely ending your lawyer-client relationship, you’ll want to have your case file to show to your replacement lawyer. Your current lawyer shouldn’t have any objection to fulfilling this request.
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Sample Termination Letter For Firing A Lawyer
Here is a sample of a generic termination letter for legal services. Please note that the format of this letter, and its content, may not be applicable to every case of client-lawyer termination.
123 ABC Drive
Palm Harbor, FL 34683
RE: Termination of Legal Services
Dear [Name of Lawyer],
I have decided to terminate our current legal relationship and have accepted legal counsel elsewhere. I have obtained alternative legal counsel that I believe will best suit the needs of my case, based on their level of expertise and my needs as a client. Nonetheless, I appreciate the time and attention you have spent attending to my case.
I am terminating this relationship because I do not feel that your area of legal expertise appropriately matches the needs of my case. I believe there is more progress that can be made with a lawyer who has specialized experience in handling pharmaceutical lawsuits, knowing that your legal background is best suited to handling motor vehicle accident claims.
I will accept responsibility for all fees that are owed and will pay this fee promptly. I request that you send a copy of my case file immediately to the address above so that I may share this with my newly obtained legal counsel. You may send your final bill to the same address.
Reasons Why You Might Fire Your Lawyer
Each person has their own reason for wanting to fire a lawyer. It may be an issue of professional conduct or a situation in which you feel your lawyer has failed in some way to adequately fulfill their legal duties to you as their client.
Our attorneys hear a number of complaints from individuals seeking alternative legal counsel.
Common complaints our attorneys hear from prospective clients looking to change lawyers include:
- the lawyer is behaving unprofessionally
- ethical concerns about the lawyer’s conduct
- the lawyer has poor communication skills
- the lawyer is not experienced in handling their type of case (e.g. personal injury lawyer without experience in product liability for a defective drug lawsuit)
- disagreements with their lawyer on how their case should be handled
- they feel their lawyer lacks dedication to the case and is failing to provide aggressive representation on their behalf
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What To Do If You’re Considering Firing Your Lawyer
If you’re unsure whether you feel you have the grounds to fire your lawyer, our attorneys are happy to discuss why you feel you would be better served seeking legal help elsewhere. Legal matters can become confusing and it’s important that you feel confident in who’s representing and advising you on legal matters.
By calling our office, we can set you up with a free consultation with one of our lawyers to discuss the details of your case.
If you’re unhappy with your current lawyer and are looking for more suitable legal representation, call the offices of Florin|Roebig today to learn what we can do for you.