Sometimes, the attorney/client relationship just doesn’t work and there’s a variety of reasons that can cause it to break down. That leads some people looking for new legal representation at a variety of different stages in their cases. Parties always have the option to find a new attorney. However, depending on the stage of the case, it can be more difficult for a new attorney to step in.
A good rule of thumb to follow, is the further you are along in your case, the harder it will be for a new attorney to take over. This is often because more events have occurred, more facts have come to light, and there is generally more for the new attorney to catch up on. Knowing exactly where you are at in a case is extremely helpful when vetting a new attorney. The new attorney that you are vetting will be able to tell you the difficulties, if any, that may be faced in switching attorneys.
It is also important to understand that a new attorney will be working within the groundwork your current attorney has laid. Often people call looking for a new attorney to fix what their current attorney has done. This may not be possible. Sometimes there is no going back.
This all raises the questions, how do I prevent needing to switch attorneys? This comes from doing your homework about the attorney. Does the attorney only dabble in family law? What kind of cases does the attorney usually handle? How long has the attorney been practicing? These are all important questions that can help you understand how the attorney is going to perform. However, one particular factor that people often overlook when retaining an attorney is the relationship factor.
I often tell my clients that they need to feel like they “click” with their attorney. It cannot be stressed enough that the attorney/client relationship is a team relationship. You will have to work with your attorney for months. Not “clicking” with your attorney can often be a fatal flaw in the attorney/client relationship. Schedule meetings, if not multiple meetings, with the attorney you are looking to hire. It is best to get a feel for the attorney at the outset of the case before you are in the thick of things and realize it is not going to work out.