I am in a wrongful death lawsuit going on three years. I have been considering getting a new lawyer but I am not sure if that will change anything as I do not know what to expect from a lawyer. My main concern is her lack of communication with me. I don't feel like she keeps me very informed. I only get updates when I ask, they seem to be incomplete, and even after requesting an update I sometimes don't get one(all via email). Our last hearing was in late February to request a trial date and I still have not heard from her. Also, her law office is her alone.
Do I have reason to be concerned? What should I expect from my lawyer? If I do decide to hire a new lawyer, what questions should I ask them?
...I have more concerns but I wanted to keep this brief...
For a wrongful death lawsuit that has been pending for three years, you can't expect constant, frequent or regular status reports from your attorney especially if she is a sole practitioner. However, you are entitled to know what is going on, even if there is nothing new to report.
I suggest that you schedule a face-to-face meeting with your attorney to discuss the case, rather than a telephone conference or exchanging emails. I think you will have a much better idea and feeling about your case and your attorney once you have the face-to-face meeting. You can ask about the depositions that have been taken, the expert witnesses (if any) that have been hired, and the trial date.
Be certain that you understand your financial obligations to your present attorney if you decide to change your legal representation. Check your contract for her services (retainer or fee agreement). If you are represented by your present attorney on a contingency basis (I.e., she shares in any recovery you may obtain from the case), you may have a "kill fee" or other financial obligation that will reduce the financial incentive for any potential new counsel to agree to take this case on.
Frankly, it sounds as if you are frustrated by lack of communication rather than concerned about the quality of her legal work. If that is the case, it may be more cost-effective for you to get more focused on communicating to her what your needs for regular communication are, rather than to exercise your right to replace her. A new attorney will necessarily need time to get up to speed on the facts of the case and the procedures that have already occurred. This may delay the case for a longer period of time than otherwise, and may be more "fix" than you really want or need.
I think you should set up a meeting with her and tell her frankly how you feel about the communication issues. Once she knows how you feel you might find that she keeps you more abreast of what is going on in the case, especially if you let her know that it bothers you enough that you have considered seeking another attorney but would prefer to improve your communication with her.
You can learn more about me by clicking on my Avvo profile. Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice. It is merely intended to provide general information to aid the poster in finding answers to the problem posed. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. In most cases, it is best to contact an attorney directly to find answers to your problems.
Both Mr. Chen and Ms. McCall give excellent advice. Being represented by an attorney and firm you feel you can trust with your case is of paramount importance in an attorney-client relationship. All attorneys are under an ethical obligation to keep their clients reasonably informed on the case. However, as a litigation attorney, I can tell you that sometimes months can go by without anything happening on the case due to circumstances outside of the attorney's control. Schedule a face-to-face meeting with your current lawyer and discuss your concerns. If you cannot come to a resolution of your concerns, you may want to retain new counsel but you should be aware that you may have financial obligations to your current attorney and sometimes new attorneys are wary of getting involved late in the game on a litigation case. If you do decide to retain new counsel, a good starting point on what to ask is determining what your expectations are for the attorney and seeing if the new firm you are interviewing can meet those expecations. Most attorney-client relationship issues can often be resolved in my experience however with a meeting to discuss concerns and to get everybody on the same page regarding what to expect out of the relationship.
This information is provided for general purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created with the furnishing of this information. Attorney licensed in North Carolina only.
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