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Personal injury case/changing of lawyers

Worcester, MA |

Lately we had disagreement with our current lawyer about the quality of counsel in trial and missrapresentation issues. We saw a different lawyer yesterday and talked about taking over all our cases. He told us he will take three days to come back to us, after also talking/asking questions to the senior partner of the opposite party. When we came home, we found out that the current lawyer had submitted a withdrawal notice from all our cases. Should we inform the potential lawyer of the letter?

I have been discontent from current councel, of 2 years, because of his inability to provide an experienced trial lawyer, and not able to meet ever with us, for the entire 2 year period. I expressed the dissagrement and asked him to finally meet with us and he still did not do so. We also found out that he had a lot of misconduct in court. Yesterday we met with a different lawyer, and told him of our situation and are waiting for him to give us an anwser if he will take over our cases, regarding personal injury. He said he will talk to the senior law partner of the defendant to find more of the stage of our case. When we returned home from the appt., we received a note that the current lawyer has withdrawn from our cases. 1- Should we inform the new potential lawyer regarding such note? 2- Will the note expedite his decision, or it will harm it?

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Yes.

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Posted

Yup. Good luck with your new counsel! Someone who's unenthusiastic about representing you isn't going to do a good job. Let your new lawyer handle all the transfer paperwork and don't communicate with Lawyer #1 any further.

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7 comments

Asker

Posted

if the new attorney accepts us, that is! His deccision is pending, after he speaks to the other party. He is not our attorney yet, and are unaware if this new letter from the former counsil will get him to get into a positive decision faster, or get him away. What do you think?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

Well, I'd still be candid with the new prospective attorney, you want to get off on the right foot showing an attitude of trust and good communication. If he doesn't take the case, you'll find someone else if it's a good case (I assume it's a personal injury case on contingency). If you have trouble finding a new attorney, that will tell you something too (they think the case is weak or they'll spend more than they're likely to get).

Asker

Posted

Thank you Jack, your answer is very informative. When we spoke to the potential lawyer yesterday we said we intent to withdraw. Insted, we got the note that the existing lawyer is withdrawing from the case. Is it a better news for the potential lawyer, that the former lawyer is withdrawing?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

As Mr. Davidson above wisely suggested, it depends on whether you are prejudiced by the withdrawal, which in turn depends on how close to a trial you are or how much he has engaged in settlement negotiations. From your question, it sounds like not much has happened in your case, but it has dragged on with ineffective assistance of counsel. My experience is that the new attorney will already know about the probably bad reputation of Attorney #1 in this regard and it won't be a problem. In any instance, usually either an attorney can withdraw with client and court approval in some instances, or can certainly be "fired" and then must withdraw. Based on the facts as you've laid out, the "your fired"/"no I quit" tango here is a meaningless face-saving gesture on the attorney's part.

Asker

Posted

In the letter, he also makes us obligated for a dollar amount cost, and “reasonably attorney’s fees for services rendered to date. He adds “the office is in the process of preparing an invoice which will be forwarded to you and we request your immediate attention to the payment of the same”. He is withdrawing, why is he asking us to pay him immediately on his cost and fees? Is there any law that regulates this? We had a contingency agreement that he had to get a contingency fee if he won the cases. Instead he is withdrawing, yet saying you have to pay. As of now, we have no other attorney, and the prospect of having one is still unclear. Can you please explain what is this and how to handle?

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

If it's a contingency, per your original agreement, you don't have to pay. There are also often fee arbitration panels run by your state or county bar association and attorney disciplinary committees. If the agreement was a contingency agreement that you only had to pay if there was a settlement or judgment, he's going to have a hard time billing you if he was the one who withdrew without your consent. But maybe a MA lawyer can help me out here with more specific advice....

Asker

Posted

Attorney Lebowitz, I posted the comment below to Attorney Davidson some moments ago. You guys have made me think a lot about what this means to our cases and their future potential, but also to what to look forward, which is much more important. I wrote a long note, which I will share with you as soon as I am finished, but I just wanted to say thank you, so many thanks indeed for at least fighting to keep justice intact and for sharing valuable insights with people in need of justice. "I agree with you Att. Davidson about his unorthodox way of going beyond his scope and area of responsibility. Your comment made me think a lot not only the quality of the attorney I am parting with, but mostly about what am I going to get.... To think that the potential attorney is one of the top ten attorneys at my state, it really makes me wonder, why is he called top-10. I am really confused here as to what justice means to you, guys, and what is that makes the 10 ten attorneys distinguish from the larger group, when they violate even the most basic laws. My biggest context is of where do I go from here, where I part from one attorney who clearly has grave misconduct in his file, to a potential one which does start his client-attorney relationship by surpassing his mandate and ignoring law? I wonder where did justice in the old terms go, and more practically where do I find a top10/not top10 attorney who really would puts justice and representation in the center of his attention, rather than think in finacial terms (return-on-investment, dollar value of a case,) etc?

Posted

Did you authorize the potential attorney to contact the opposing counsel? As the potential lawyer knew you were already represented by counsel and had no knowledge of the withdrawal by your former counsel, such an act of calling this opposing attorney is unorthodox. As for your former counsel, generally you should come to a mutual agreement that you decided to part ways with your attorney. The attorney really showed how unenthusiastic he or she was by filing withdrawal papers without communicating his or her intention to withdraw. If the new attorney decides not to represent you, you have the right to contest your "former" attorney's withdrawal. If you are nearing or at trial, your "former" attorney's withdrawal would be denied by the judge. In some cases, opposing party/counsel can contest the withdrawal as well (e.g. if it is going to cause a delay, etc...) While this potential new attorney takes his three days, I would suggest consulting with other attorneys during this time. Technically, until the attorney decides to take your case and enter an entry of appearance on your behalf, the attorney should not inform anybody that they have even spoken to you.

The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.

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Posted

I agree with you Att. Davidson about his unorthodox way of going beyond his scope and area of responsibility. Your comment made me think a lot not only the quality of the attorney I am parting with, but mostly about what am I going to get.... To think that the potential attorney is one of the top ten attorneys at my state, it really makes me wonder, why is he called top-10. I am really confused here as to what justice means to you, guys, and what is that makes the 10 ten attorneys distinguish from the larger group, when they violate even the most basic laws. My biggest context is of where do I go from here, where I part from one attorney who clearly has grave misconduct in his file, to a potential one which does start his client-attorney relationship by surpassing his mandate and ignoring law? I wonder where did justice in the old terms go, and more practically where do I find a top10/not top10 attorney who really would puts justice and representation in the center of his attention, rather than think in finacial terms (return-on-investment, dollar value of a case,) etc?

Posted

Yes. Make sure the lawyer didn't blow the statute.

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Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Posted

Indeed!!!

Posted

Listen to Talking about the Law this Sunday at 10am on WCRN radio 830 am and a discussion about accident cases and workers comp. Call in with your question if you wish to talk on the air about the issue generally or email the show the question for off the air comments. This sounds much like an other question I just read on AVVO.
Bob flynn

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