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Can I change lawyers - how does the current lawyer get paid?

Paso Robles, CA |

My lawyer is not returning my phone calls.

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Attorney answers 5


You can change lawyers. Although it is not always advisable, and sometimes a court won't let you.
You would pay the current lawyer either his hourly rate or if a flat fee a quantum meruit payment, up to the point he is released from further representation.
If you paid a retainer and it is not all used up he is required to pay the balance. If you paid a retainer and it is not enough they you have to add the difference.
A fee can be charged for closing the case and providing you copies of the file or returning documents.;; 703-298-9562, 800-401-1583. Answering your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Yes. You can change lawyers at any time. Depending upon the type of case it is will dictate how your current lawyer will be compensated for time worked on your case. Refer to your retainer agreement or contract to see if there is a termination clause.


It is your right to dismiss your lawyer. You need to notify your lawyer ( preferably in writing) and pay him/her for his /her services.
If you are in a litigation and your lawyer gave a notice of appearance to the court, the court , (upon petition by your lawyer )can release him from your case (keep in mind you will be charged for that procedure from the lawyer that you wish to dismiss). There are many variables that a court considers for the dismissal of a lawyer and depends from your case ( if you are in litigation).
If you hired the lawyer for a case on contingency then he/she will charge you for the hours you worked for your case .(check your retainer agreement).
The bottom line is yes you can dismiss your lawyer.

Lawyers have the ethical duty to return their clients telephone calls. Before you are harsh in your decision to dismiss your lawyer, send him/her a certified letter an advise him that you try to contact him/her. Write how many times you try to contact him and for what reason. If continues to ignore you then proceed with dismissal of his services and report hit to his bar demanding the return of your retainer.

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Except under some extremely limited circumstances a client can always choose to end representation by a lawyer, and to work with another attorney. We work for you. You should have received a fee or retainer agreement that describes to you how payment is handled including after representation has ended.


Yes file a Substitution of Attorney Civil (MC-50). Sign it and ask the attorney to sign it. Payment is usually addressed in the initial client fee agreement that should have been signed by both attorney and client at the time you hired this attorney.

You also can go shop for another attorney and ask the new attorney to prepare the substitution of attorney form for you as well as get the case file from your previous counsel. We do this for clients frequently. If you would like a free initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thanks.

The communication above is provided for informational purposes only. It is not legal advise and does not create an attorney client relationship with anyone. Please consider the information above and get competent legal advise from your trusted advisor.

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