HELP – My Attorney Retired, Won the Lottery, Passed Away, Moved to Hawaii; What Should I Do?
I know, it’s hard to believe, but lawyers are only human. We retire, pass away or sometimes even get promoted to judge. For whatever the reason an Attorney is no longer able to represent a client what are the clients’ options? Nobody likes to start over, establishing trust, getting a new representative up to speed and explaining a long case history can be overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions that might make the process less daunting.
The first step is to contact the law firm that your attorney was affiliated with and find out if there is anyone else in the firm that practices this specialty and/or has the capacity to take on your case. You can schedule a meeting with the managing partner of that firm to ascertain the next steps. However, often the firm does not have the capacity to take on more cases or your previous attorney may have been the only specialist in that area of law. If the firm is not able to take you on as a client, then it is wise to request a copy of your file if you will be seeking representation elsewhere.
If your attorney was a private practitioner or there is no other attorney in that practice who can handle your case, then the second step is to ask if the firm could give you a referral. This will help narrow the playing field. Often attorneys have colleagues that are in different practice areas and they might know who could be a good fit and competent to continue with your case. Keep in mind, if you choose to change your attorney because you are seeking different representation, the attorneys themselves may come to an agreement regarding fee sharing if there was work the previous attorney did prior to your change in attorneys. This fee sharing should not affect the client in anyway, it should be a sharing of the fees that one attorney would be entitled to on your case regardless of, which attorney is your representative.
Lastly, if you have exhausted the previous options or just want a fresh set of eyes on your case the third step would be to call your local bar association in the County/City in which you live or the jurisdiction where the case takes place. Most bar associations have a lawyer referral service and can help guide your search.
Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman | Sobin | Gross LLP, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers’ compensation.