Even though you probably had a contingency fee contract with your prior lawyer, you may still owe him a fee. In most jurisdictions, it will probably be based not on your contingency fee contract, but rather on quantum meruit (meaning “how much is merited or how much work was done to entitle payment.")
If you fired your lawyer without good cause, you will definitely owe the discharged lawyer a fee. Nevertheless, if you fire your lawyer with good cause, the attorney will probably not be allowed to recover any fee. Anything that constitutes a serious ethics violation would easily qualify as "good cause" to fire your lawyer. (i.e., conflict of interest, misrepresentation, asking you to commit perjury). However, a perceived lack of diligence by the lawyer (not moving your case forward as quickly as possible), a difference of opinion over the value of the case, or a lack of communication between attorney/client, may or may not rise to the level of good cause sufficient to deny a fired lawyer any fee. It is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Hope this helps. Good luck to you!
This was not intended to constitute legal advice. This does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you would like a free consultation, call 407-831-8522 or visit The Sunner Law Firm at www.sunnerlaw.com.
The Florida Bar has a fee arbitration program that will can be utilized if you dispute the amount of attorney fees being charged in a case. The attorney above is correct that discharging your attorney under a contingency fee contract usually entitles that lawyer to a fee on your future recovery. However, it appears as though you feel there was a significant lack of diligence being performed on your file. In that case, I would highly recommend you dispute the attorney fee lien and put your reasons for doing so in writing.
Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.
Michael D. McGrath, Esq.
McGrath Gibson Injury & Family Law
You will need to read your retainer agreement you signed with your former attorney and then call your former attorney to discuss the lien amount and attempt to settle the matter directly. However, generally speaking an attorney will be entitled to be paid a reasonable fee for any work performed prior to being dismissed. If you are unable to resolve the lien with your former attorney you can contact the Florida Bar and request fee arbitration.