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What do you do if your lawyer won't communicate with you?

Greensboro, NC |

My wife was injured in an auto accident last year. She sustained injuries to her head and neck and we retained a lawyer to represent her. We have received no correspondence from him whatsoever. We have left dozens of voicemails with no response. When we first spoke with him he had someone answering the phone at his office. Now all we get is a recording. When do you give up and find another lawyer?

Attorney Answers 4


The red flags are waving. Send him a certified letter terminating his services. Keep a copy. The statute of limitations is running while you wait.

Contact the local bar and inquire as to his active status. You require a direct response.

Hire another lawyer IMMEDIATELY and inform him/her of your situation. Show her/him the letter. Get going NOW.

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Either this is a duplicate question or the other one is.

What I generally suggest doing is to send a certified mail to the attorney requesting a complete status of the case giving him a two week period within which to answer. Generally, the rules of ethics requires that an attorney gives status of the case to his client at reasonable intervals. Of course if you have called him 15 times in 3 days chances are no attorney would return your call. If you have been reasonable and not obnoxious in calling every week inquiring about the status of your case then the attorney here is in the wrong and he should respond to you. If he does not respond to your certified mail letter, in my judgment it is time to move on to another attorney. In the past, when someone comes to my office with the same issues as yours, I contact the other attorney and tell them that his clients are jumping ship. Usually this gets the other attorney fired up to get on the case and move it forward. If this does not help, your new attorney will prepare a letter for you to sign and formally fire the old one.

Keep in mind that the old attorney will be entitled to immediate reimbursement of all the costs advanced, if any, and a fair compensation of the hours he has done work on your case. If he has done nothing, then it would be hard for him to justify hours, or if he has done a lot of work and you are unaware of it, he will be able to get paid. This can be tricky--because on many occasions the hourly rate may exceed what he would have been able to receive under his contract and so you will have to deal with this issue. Your new attorney will be able to counsel you as to how best to approach this.

I hope this helps-

Nima Taradji

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Illinois only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for entertainment purposes only.

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It does not sound like your attorney has followed his ethical duties and kept you informed of the status of your case. The #1 complaint with the North Carolina State Bar is failure to return phone calls. Also under North Carolina law, if you want a different lawyer, you have the right to fire your old attorney. In my opinion, it does not sound as if you are being unreasonable in your attempts to contact your attorney. If you decide to fire him, you should send him a letter notifying him of that and asking him to give you a complete copy of his file. He is required to provide you with a copy. In the meantime, you can look for another lawyer.

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If you can't get in touch with your lawyer to this degree, it is a very bad sign. You don't want to jeopardize your case, get someone else.

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