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How do I know if I need to hire a new attorney?

Savannah, GA |
Filed under: Professional ethics

I hired an attorney based on a really good consultation and professional references. However, after having had him on my husbands case for several months, everything that he spoke of in our consultation has gone out of the window. I have not paid him in full yet and have informed him that I do not intend to complete the payments unless he gives me a written statement of what I can expect from him and what he expects of me as well. He has veered away from everything that he said he would do, and try to do, for us. He does not respond to emails or phone calls in a timely manner or have professional conversation as he did when I first hired him. What can I do to get him to work? What are my rights in an attorney-client relationship? Any references for reading up on this type of problem?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. What you owe or do no owe is determined by your written fee agreement which I have not read. You do have a right to change lawyers and possibly should. Good lawyers respond to emails and calls in a reasonable time. I usually aim for the same day, but a couple days can be reasonable. Beyond that is inappropriate and the lawyer is being unprofessional. Client communication is essential. Again, most of your rights are in your fee agreement.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer unless you sign a retainer agreement). Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Note that I am only licensed in Georgia and thus cannot practice in other states. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy. State bar rules require that I disclose my name/contact information in any communication (Glen Ashman)


  2. Part of the problem may be it is your husband's case and the atty has no privilege with you. He may not realize this is not obvious to you.

    It could also be that the other side's strategy has changed his intended approach. It happens.

    Have your husband call and make an appointment. Ask for contemporaneous copies of ever everything that is produced or rec'd in the case.

    If you ask for a "lesson plan" as you describe, you will just insult him. You will do the attorney-client relationship no good treating your attorney like a remedial ed student.

    Human conversation, polite conversation is the cure for this malady.


  3. While you hired the lawyer, he still has attorney/client privilege with your husband. Therefore he can only share so much with you. If you and your husband are unhappy with the representation, review your fee agreement and determine what your rights are under it. Then you can choose to terminate the relationship and move on to a new lawyer.

    If he is showing you that he is not going to be responsive, and he is not responsive to your husband, that is unlikely to change. Some lawyers, unfortunately, are very bad at being communicative.

    I am licensed in Pennsylvania. Members of my firm are licensed in various states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. We handle cases involving personal injury (car accidents slip and falls, etc.,) medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, workers' compensation, social security disability and legal malpractice. Nothing I write on Avvo is legal advice, but instead contains general educational information. Please do not act or refrain from acting based upon what you read in anything I write on Avvo without retaining your own lawyer in your state. Also please remember that this post does not form an attorney/client relationship between you and me. If you have specific legal questions, you should contact an attorney in your state for assistance.

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