You need to review your agreement. 9.9 times out of 10 your representation agreement is between you and the firm. Not you and this one lawyer. That means anyone in that firm can represent you.
Now, you can always terminate the representation. This does not mean you get all your money back. It means you get back what was not earned. They have done work and they get to keep the money they earned under the terms of your agreement. Before you do something rash, review your agreement and talk to your attorney and get things clarified.
This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
I too am a shareholder in a firm - meaning I own part of it - so when people hire me, I explain that I have two associates who also work with me. They are associates, because they don't own part of the firm, but they are still lawyers, and still very smart and good lawyers (or else I wouldn't employ them!) However, if you have any concerns about your representation - including whether or not you want the associate to represent you - then you need to promptly talk to the attorney with whom you spoke when you retained. If that person is not going to represent you, you may choose to change firms. Any amount of the $18,000 which has not already been spent shall be returned to you. If the entire $18,000 has been spent, you should have bills you can review to see exactly what was done, by whom, to have incurred those charges.
Please talk to the attorney you retained. There may be a very good reason why the associate is being the trial attorney on your case.
This legal information is provided for general legal purposes and does not establish a client-attorney relationship. Because of the limited information provided in the question, it is difficult to be certain that Counsel is answering the question correctly. You are encouraged to seek further information from an attorney directly so that follow up questions may be asked if necessary.
At that price, you should have a retainer in writing. It should say that this is an option in the agreement. If you are not satisfied, unfortunately, if there were no malpractice or errors and omissions, you have little recourse. But you can ask for a different lawyer. Most firms will work to resolve it that way. Or - Fee arbitration. But that's only a maybe if it is solely because you thought someone else would represent you--unless you were promised and agreed to have a particular lawyer. I hate to hear these types of questions, because, unfortunately, I find myself telling people that this is something that should be carefully considered and discussed before signing an agreement. Most regular clients and business clients work this out as the first matter of business after stating what the legal issue is. Most people that do not regularly deal with law firms do not realize this when they sign.
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