They may have a claim for the value of the services they provided and any expenses they laid out on your case thus far. You should read your written fee agreement with your current lawyer carefully.
You need to reread your fee agreement. Some attorneys will charge an hourly rate and/or expect reimbursement for their expenses if you fire them prior to resolution. Others, like me, charge nothing unless at least an offer has been made. This is done to prevent a situation in which I do the work necessary to achieve a favorable result but the client terminates the representation to avoid paying a fee. It has never happened, but that is the purpose.
In Michigan they are entitled to what is called Quantum Meruit. That is a Latin term referring to the value of the services. It is calculated after the case settles. If the lawyer is discharged for cause, however, they get nothing. No matter what happens you do not pay more than the 1/3 attorney fee between the two lawyers. (They split it in some manner). This is to ensure that the client can have whatever attorney they deem appropriate throughout their case without penalty. We return all our calls from all our clients and a client has the right to expect that to occur.
You should consult an attorney in your State at once.
As other have stated, when you retain an attorney to help you, you sign a fee agreement or a contract for legal services, you should have been provided a copy, however if you were not you need to contact the attorney's office immediately, and request a copy.
This response is for general information only, no attorney client privilege has been established by this communication.
First of all, it is inexcusable for a lawyer to not respond to calls or emails. Overnight one letter to the lawyer and indicate that you are disastisfied with his failure to return calls and update you, and give him a short window (72 hours is plenty) to call you. Indicate to him that if he is not willing to do that, you want him to withdraw and release any liens on your file, and let him know that if he arguies about it that you will file a complaint with the state bar (and do it if he does not respond).
He CAN make a claim for his services, depending on your fee agreement, so getting a release from him is important.
Any good lawyer will return phone calls and emails (I usually do the same day, and certainly never later than the next day). You should expect that from any lawyer.
If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.
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