How Do You Fire a Lawyer?


Seriously, firing your lawyer is a big decision, and it requires some vigilance. As soon as you've made the firing decision, tell your lawyer to stop communications with all parties connected to your legal business.

Write down the reasons for the firing in a closing letter. Never exaggerate, don't use foul language and be as honest as possible. The letter should include as many dates, specific events and conversations as you can remember. Cover these important issues in your closing letter:

Fee and cost balances. If you dispute the balances, say so. If your lawyer agreed to reduce or waive any fees, detail them in the letter.
  1. Agency termination time and date. Include a sentence documenting the date and time that you directed your attorney to cease all communications to any persons in any way connected with your claim.

If possible, hand-deliver the letter since you'll want to pick up your file while you're there. Keep in mind that under the law of some states, the attorney you fired may be allowed to keep your file until you've paid your bill. If you can't deliver the letter, use certified mail. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter. It could become evidence later if there is a fee dispute.

Line up another attorney before you fire your old one, especially if you're in the middle of a lawsuit. It may be harder than you think to find someone to take your case. You should also be aware that in certain states, firing a lawyer after a suit has been filed usually requires the court's permission. If the case is close to trial, the court may be reluctant to grant permission for dismissal if it will delay the proceedings.

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