You can always call on other lawyers for a second opinion in you are not
happy with your current situation. The client ultimately makes the
decisions, especially with regards to representation. You will want to
read the representation agreement to see what financial liability, if any,
you may have to your current lawyer.
Evan A. Watson is a Georgia licensed attorney. All information is based on Georgia law, and no response should be construed as legal advice. Additionally, this response does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is simply a form of legal education and is intended to provide general information for all readers. Please refer with an attorney who practices in your applicable state for non-Georgia legal questions.
Hiring a lawyer is an important decision. Too many hire lawyers that advertise who are glorified fast food lawyers- big on promises and promotion, little on personal attention and service. Whether to fire that lawyer is an equally important and personal decision. Try and work things out. If you can't, find a lawyer who will walk with you through this tough time.
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I would first ask - what was it about this lawyer that made you entrust one of the most important decisions your family would make? Obviously, the loss of your mother was devastating, and the decision about who should carry that flag in seeking justice on her behalf is not one to be taken lightly. Assuming this was someone who was chosen with care or through the recommendation of a trusted contact, I would encourage you to spend a little more time trying to work out the situation with your attorney. I don't know the facts of your case, but 8 months seems like a long time for this case to be at the stage you describe.
You should be aware that most good attorneys will not discuss your case with you or offer a second opinion, as it is unethical to discuss your case while you are represented. However, if you ultimately realize you chose your attorney in haste or s/he did not turn out to be the person you thought s/he was, then this is too important a decision to proceed with someone in whom you do not have confidence, or someone with whom you have a bad relationship. At that point, it is better to cut ties and start anew - this time doing research into the attorney you hire. With a case like this, it can seem a lot like a marriage! I wish you the best of luck, both in this case and in your healing.
For more information, contact us at Fareesh@SarangiLaw.com or (770) 984-5380. The initial consultation is always free. This post is intended to provide general guidance, and should not be construed as legal advice. While I am an attorney, unless we sign a retainer agreement, I am not your attorney, and any information shared on Avvo does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please mark this answer as "Helpful" or "Best Answer" if you like it.
It is hard to tell from the information you have provided whether or not your attorney is not paying "enough" attention to your matter. I assume you hired an attorney for a wrongful death action, so not seeing the relevance of the hearing in criminal court (guilty on 2nd degree charges). Your attorney may well have been waiting for the criminal matter to complete, before filing the civil claim. It is presumably easier to prove wrongful death with a criminal conviction in your pocket. The legal process takes time. Sometimes, a LOT of time. But no matter, you are entitled to a monthly billing statement, and explanations straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. CALL YOUR LAWYER! Ask what is going on. If he/she fails to respond, yes, that's bad. But if you have not explained to your lawyer how you are feeling, and you hired a reputable busy lawyer, then it might not be "time" yet to move on your case. Without more, I can't tell; but for sure, start by calling your attorney!
I am sorry for the loss of your mother. There is nothing anyone can say on this website or anywhere else that will make such a loss easier to bear, or lighten the burden you and your family members face after such a tragic loss. One of the reasons to hire an attorney in such a situation is to have a counselor at law, not just an attorney; to have the benefit of having someone to discuss the situation with whenever you need to do so, during all stages of the matter.
It sounds like you do not have that situation with your current attorney, which is unfortunate. Some attorneys do this type of law for money, not for the benefit of helping people. It is important, especially in a wrongful death claim, to have an attorney who does this for the right reasons, and who wants to help you.
As far as your relationship with your current attorney, it is true that most good and ethical lawyers will be uncomfortable discussing the case with you if you already have an attorney. It is usually a good idea to try to discuss the situation with your current attorney and see if the relationship is salvageable before making the decision to let him go and hire a different one. Also, if you feel that the relationship cannot be salvaged, you should read your contract with that attorney to see what it says about letting him or her go. While you are free to let him or her go and hire another attorney, the contract you signed may have language in it about him having the right to be paid by the hour or otherwise if he or she is let go, usually at the end of the case. Frequently, however, this can be negotiated, reduced, or sometimes eliminated altogether, depending on the circumstances.
If you decide to let your attorney go, you should find a new one who you know will be available for you when you need to speak with him or her. I must say that it is very unusual in a wrongful death claim for an attorney to have so little contact with the client, especially around the time of a hearing on criminal charges associated with the client's family member's death. Most attorneys, and all good ones, will certainly be available to the client at such times, and will answer the phone, and return calls and emails, particularly in a wrongful death case. Attorneys who practice in this area for the right reasons will always be available to the client.
I would encourage you to discuss this with your family members and determine if you want to try to work this out with the current attorney, and if not, then to consult with other attorneys to find one you are comfortable with. It is often best when looking for another attorney to be sure to find one who has the time to discuss the claim and situation with you in detail, both up front, and going forward with the claim. This usually means attorneys who do not have especially large volumes of cases, as those attorneys are often too busy to take the time to talk to individual clients very often.
Whatever you decide, allow me to wish you the best of luck going forward and recovering from this tragic event.
Your attorney should always return your call. Try contacting them again. Then try showing up at his or her office. If that doesn't work then you should consider consulting another attorney. My number is 404 812 4300 if you have any additional questions.
You should try to reconnect with the attorney, if at all possible. Keep trying to reach him/her. Email, fax & write the attorney. Go by the attorney's office if necessary. I'd say reserve judgment until you are able to find out what is going on. If the attorney is non-responsive, well, that's not right or responsible on the part of the attorney. However, there may be something going on with the attorney. Take a deep breath & be reasonably patient. Best wishes.
Sam Levine, Esq.
I agree with all the other posters. You should first try to resolve this with your lawyer by getting a meeting with him or her to discuss the trouble your lack of communication is causing you. If you choose to find other counsel, there are plenty of great lawyers throughout Georgia who could help you with your case. Our firm puts a premium on communication, and all calls to attorneys are returned within 24 hours. We also facilitate communication with clients through an online client portal, so all documents relevant to your case are shared online the instant we complete or file them, and all messages with clients are through a secured messaging portal. There is no excuse for not communicating with clients in this age of the internet. Find out why your attorney is not contacting you and remedy the situation. If you're still not satisfied, call another lawyer. My firm's number is 912-401-8880.
Georgia law permits you to hire and fire an attorney at any time. Despite this, your contract may entitle your attorney to a reasonable attorneys' fee for his service to you so far.
Answering questions does not create an attorney/client relationship. I only am your attorney if I have entered into a written contract, signed by me, wherein I expressly assent to be your attorney. Nothing I post should be construed as legal advice to be acted upon, it is merely a legal opinion.