What do I have to lose by changing lawyers early in a personal injury settlement case?

Asked 11 months ago - Denver, CO

The original lawyer with whom I had conferred and signed paperwork left to start his own firm. I stayed with the original firm, but am not pleased with their work (the lawyers are extremely impersonal). What would I lose by going under contract with the first lawyer at his new firm, assuming he will still handle it for the same %? Am I correct in assuming that I will not pay twice and they will split the fee % originally agreed upon under the principle of quantum meruit?

Additional information

So if I terminate this firm they will still be paid on a contingent basis, correct? I could not end up paying them hourly and have it come out to more than the % agreed upon?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. John M Connell

    Pro

    Contributor Level 19

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes you will not pay twice. They can work it out. You are free to change if you want but you should discuss it with the lawyer you wAnt to use

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate by providing feedback that the answer was either "helpful"... more
  2. Jason Carl Kennedy

    Contributor Level 13

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The way this generally works with contingency fee agreements is that you are terminating the representation of the original firm and you are entering into a new contingency fee agreement with the individual lawyer. You have an absolute right to terminate your current representation, however you may be responsible to the original firm to compensate it for services already provided under principles of quantum meruit or unjust enrichment. The individual lawyer would still be entitled to the contingency fee provided for in your new retainer agreement without sharing it with the old firm. Indeed, fee spiting is prohibited by the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.

    Since this is a situation where you are following a lawyer in leaving a firm, you may be able to ask the lawyer to draft the retainer agreement in such a was as to deduct his contingency fee by however much you owe the old law firm. Just an idea.

    I hope this answer was helpful.
    Jason

  3. Christopher Daniel Leroi

    Contributor Level 20

    12

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Both of my esteemed colleagues are absolutely correct. The earlier on that you change counsel the better. You need an attorney that you feel comfortable with and who you can work with as a team. If the other attorneys seem impersonal, definitely change at once and the new and old attorneys can work out how any payments received from the Defendant are shared.

    The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not considered to... more
  4. Jacob Kempowski

    Contributor Level 7

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . All of the above answers are correct. You have the right to terminate representation at any point. As mentioned above, you will not pay twice and if you have a contingency fee agreement the original attorney will be entitled to the reasonable cost of services rendered so far, but the two attorneys will be the ones working out payment.

  5. David Ian Schoen

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are correct. Go where you are comfortable.

  6. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You can change at any time. Avvo has a terrific "find a lawyer" tool to find a top-rated Avvo attorney with a low contingency fee. Good luck.

  7. Jeffrey Larkin Wertz

    Pro

    Contributor Level 11

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The attorney who left that firm should be able to explain precisely what will happen and what firm will claim what if you decide to terminate the "old" firm and sign a new agreement with the lawyer's "new" firm. Have him explain it all to you.

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