You should first sit down with your previous attorney to better understand why he or she withdrew from this case. Based upon the substantial investment made, my suspicion is that they genuinely believe there are challenges that cannot be overcome. You need to understand that position (even if you don't agree). Next, I would aggressively pursue another attorney. You can contact the State Bar Referral Service (See, http://www.nvbar.org/content/lawyer-referral-information-service) for names of Medical Malpractice attorneys. You are certainly welcome to contact me as well.
In order to proceed, you will have to find an attorney that believes in your case, and is therefore willing to risk the substantial expenses associated with trial. Please keep in mind that we have faced significant Tort Reform in Nevada with regard to claims involving Medical Malpractice. Make sure that you discuss the impact of new legislation upon your case when you consult with an attorney.
With regard to your Trial Date, there is likelihood that it will be continued (delayed) upon request by your new attorney.
I hope you find this response helpful, and do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience.
Mr. Stone, an excellent lawyer, has given you a very thoughtful answer. However, on one point I disagree. He suggests calling the State Bar's Lawyer Referral Service. What the State Bar does not tell you is that a lawyer who accepts the referral must pay 20% of his or her fee to the State Bar as a referral fee. In case where a lucrative fee awaits, lawyers are happy with this 80%-20% split with the state bar. I accept referrals from the State Bar in many cases and pay the 20% referral fee.
However, as Mr. Stone suggests, you may have a case of marginal economic attractiveness to a qualified medical malpractice lawyer. If it is a close question as to whether or not the lawyer will want your case, having to give 20% of the fee away could be a deciding reason not to take your case.
The only advantage to the client in going to the State Bar for a referral is that to be on the Bar's referral list a lawyer must have a relatively clean disciplinary record and have legal malpractice insurance. However, you can go to the State Bar's website and see for yourself is a lawyer has malpractice insurance. You can call the Nevada State Bar at 702-382-2200 and ask to be told a lawyer's complete history of discipline by the state bar, if any.
Medical malpractice cases are very difficult under today's laws and most personal injury lawyers, myself included, have stopped taking them. Unfortunately, there are also some inexperienced lawyers who take medical malpractice cases but really can't handle them.
I recommend searching the web, including avvo.com, and then calling to talk to different lawyers. If you find one interested in your case that you like then you might check the lawyer out with the Nevada State Bar. Good luck.
The answers from the other attorneys are very accurate and provide good advice. However, you must be aware of the problems that are involved in medical malpractice cases. The laws are written to protect doctors and hospitals from medical malpractice cases. The laws do not favor you and provide you with very little protection. For example, the amount your attorney can receive as compensation is limited by Nevada law. However, the amount of money doctors and hospitals can pay their attorneys is not limited in any way. In addition, the amount of money that you can be awarded for non-economic damages is limited. As a result, given the amount of time and money it will take to prepare your case for trial and to take it to trail may make it not economically feasable for an attorney to go forward with your case. It is very possible that the amount of costs to prepare the case for a May 2013 trial and to take it to trial could easily exceed $50,000.00 in addition to what has been paid so far. Even more troubling is the fact tha the vast majority of medicl malpractice verdicts are defense verdicts in favor of the docotrs and hospitals. As a result, there are a limited number of qualified attorneys who continue to take medical malpractice cases. The discovery in your case is very close to the deadlines and a new attorney may not have sufficient time to prepare. That makes it hard to get a new lawyer.
The above information is to explain why you may be having difficulty locating a new attorney. However, if you are going to pursue your case, you must hire a new lawyer and you must do it right away.
Lawyers are fiduciaries for their clients, and must safeguard the clients’ interest.
Agreements restricting the ability of lawyers to compete with their old firm after they leave are largely unenforceable.
Clients do not belong to a lawyer or a firm; the client chooses whether to follow a departing lawyer or stay with a firm.
Lawyers have fiduciary duties to their partners before they leave, and some duties continue after departure.
Lawyers may plan for departure, but may not secretly solicit clients or employees.
These general principles leave many gray areas where the outcome will depend upon who is viewed by the court as acting reasonably. And even these principles are subject to exceptions where specific client interests or equitable considerations outweigh the general policies. The predominant weight given to client interests underscores the highly fact-specific nature of the disputes that arise. Therefore, the single most important practical recommendation, whatever your role in the process or whoever you are representing, is to be reasonable and fair in dealing with the issues
Duties of Firms and Lawyers When Someone Leaves
Yes, there are specific ethical requirements when a lawyer leaves a law firm
– both for the lawyer and the firm. The following is a summary of the ethical considerations
whenever a lawyer leaves (or a firm dissolves).
A. Ethical Obligation to Communicate to Certain Clients
Two primary directives must be remembered when lawyers leave law firms:
1) lawyers have a duty to tell “their” clients that they are leaving; and 2) clients
are not chattels – the firm and departing lawyer cannot decide which clients can
stay and which can go – the clients decide. Lawyers must keep clients informed
so that clients may make informed decisions about what the clients want to do.1
As explained in ABA Formal Opinion 99-414, “The departing lawyer and
responsible members of the law firm who remain have an ethical obligation to
assure that prompt notice is given to clients on whose active matters she currently
is working.” Remember, Ethical Rule 1.4 requires that lawyers keep clients
reasonably informed – which would include the fact that a lawyer who has had
“significant personal contact” with a client is leaving the firm.
1. Which clients to tell
Arizona Opinion 99-14 provides some guidance on when a departing lawyer
may communicate directly with firm clients. A departing lawyer who has had
“significant personal contacts” with the client, should inform the client that the
lawyer is leaving the firm. Note: this does not mean that an associate who met a
client once or twice and has prepared discovery requests has had “significant personal
contacts” – the standard is that if the client were asked “which lawyer(s) at
the firm represents you?” the lawyers mentioned would be those that have had
“significant personal contacts.”
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