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When firing an attorney and getting a new one, is it common for the new one to ask if there is a lien on your case?

San Francisco, CA |

When firing an attorney and getting a new one, is it common for the new one to ask if there is a lien on your case? I'm not sure why as a defendant a new attorney would ask about this unless he wanted to help the old attorney who was overbilling the client.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Yes, it is common. You might be speculating as to motive for asking. Was there a cross-complaint filed in your case?

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


  2. Yes, this is quite common in personal injury cases. Your speculation may be correct or incorrect. Maybe the purpose is to reduce the lien. The question about the cross complaint by my colleague is that replying to a cross complaint in a contingent case is not covered by the percentage. If you feel the lien is based on overbilling, you have a right to fee arbitration under State Bar rules.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


  3. It is not clear from your question as to the facts of your case, however, the attorney-client relationship is a fiduciary one. Therefore, it would not be unusual for the attorney to ask such questions. In fact, the attorney may be required to ask such questions, in order for the attorney to satisfy his or her obligations that may arise from the representation.