if i choose to fire my lawyer, what am i obligated to pay?
3 Answers from Attorneys
You are entitled to fire your lawyer at any time. Most personal injury lawyers will take your case on a contingent fee basis, meaning that they will only be paid when the case settles. If you fire him or her before the case settles, he or she does have a right to be paid for the work done to date. Most attorneys, including myself, will pay the attorney's lien out of the fee received, so you only pay 1/3. You do not have to pay two attorneys.
I have written a blog post describing this process in detail. http://www.rhodeislandinjurylawyerblog.com/2010/05/ever-asked-can-i-fire-my-lawye.html
Best of Luck,
I agree with the previous attorney's answer. You should also check with your Fee Agreement to see what the rights and responsibilities of the parties are.
You have to honor your agreement. You do not say what your agreement was, so I would have to guess. In the event you have a contingent fee agreement, you have to pay whatever you agreed to pay but not until the case is concluded. The standard clause states you will pay for the fair value of his or her services, which is typically however many hours he or she spent on your case times his or her usual billing rate. You might want to consider changing lawyers makes for less incentive for your new lawyer to go the distance, and that is why many savvy people keep the lawyer they have even though, to analogize to doctors, he may not have the best bedside manner (perhaps does not return phone calls quickly or empathize with your plight enough), but he's an excellent surgeon. You may decide to hold you nose and stay with someone who has legal ability in the courtroom but lacks other skills which are irking you on a personal basis. Think about this. Let's say you hire a real estate agent to sell your house with a 6 percent commission. Then he pisses you off and you want to change agents, and find out you will have to pay him 3 percent. Your new real estate agent you hire is now working for 3 percent. Your house is worth $100,000 and should sell for $100,000 but that is a lot more work than selling it for $75,000. Do you think the new agent, who is going to make 3 percent is going to go the distance to get you $100,000? The difference to his compensation is minute between 75K and 100K, and the amount of extra work is huge. What would you do? What is human nature? Think about this . . . Best luck, JBS