What you are suggesting doing is not a very nice thing to do. It also won't save you a dime. Your old lawyer will file a lien on the case and probably get the full 15% fee if he's gotten you all the way to the alter. If I saw that you'd done this to the first attorney, I sure wouldn't take you on as a new client for fear you'd pull the same stunt on me.
As Mr. Corson says, think long and hard before you go down this road.
In Georgia most fee agreements are written to pay your previous lawyer the higher of either their percentage fees on the highest last settlement offer or their hourly fee for time invested in working your case. The prior lawyer would have a right in Georgia to file a lien on your case for that purpose. Your old lawyer and the new lawyer would work the split out without normally involving you.
A case that has been fully developed and worked properly will stand the best chance of generating a settlement value that most closely represents full value for your case. The problem may be that if you don't do this every day for a living you may not fully appreciate how all the pieces of a fully developed case fit together in order to maximize its value and you will not get full value on your own. Once a ships captain has successfully navigated across the ocean it would be foolish to then try to dock it yourself. All but the most simple finger cut and bandaid workers compensation cases are best left to a skilled workers compensation lawyer to maximize the value of a case through the settlement process. Good luck my friend.
The BEST you can hope for is that the fee is withheld pending disposition of the split, but neither of you will get that portion of the money until it is resolved. All the Attorneys involved will have to split the same 15% fee, so it is difficult to get the 2nd or 3rd unless you have a pretty good case. Measure twice and cut once before you dismiss your current Attorney; if he got you close to settlement, you are not going to stiff him for the fee. It would be shame to screw up your own case and STILL pay a 15% Fee to the prior Attorney.
Attorneys are very competitive. Choose the Best Answer so we know who helped you the most.
Remember the Workers Comp Judge has to approve your settlement. The workers comp judge should address what to do with the attorney fees at time of settlement, and will more than likely require that the 15% (if 15% is ordered) be kept from all the attorneys, and yourself if you represented yourself, until an agreement is reached on the fee split. There is a CA Code of Regs (CCR) which deals with attorney fees, and how to calculate the reasonable amount. Basically, time spent, result, and work on the case will substantiate what the attorney deserves.
Judges see applicant's "make an end run" from time-to-time and should not allow a client to fire his or her attorney at the last second to avoid attorney fees.