Legal Question in Legal Ethics in California

I fired my attorney in the middle of my court case due to her poor performance and numerous arguments with her. Now when I try to replace her by hiring a new attorney, the new attorney's want to speak with her (naturally) after which they refuse further communication with me. What can I do about being black balled by my former attorney? I don't have much time before the next court date.

Asked on 10/17/14, 11:59 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

Unless you find out and can prove that she is making false statements about you, your case, and/or her experience of you as a client, there is basically nothing you can do from a legal ethics or discipline standpoint. Lawyers are entitled to provide accurate information to other attorneys who are on the same "team" or are considering it. Since the prospective new attorney is under the confidentiality requirements and protections of the attorney/client privilege as soon as they are consulted about possibly taking the case, the first attorney does not violate the privilege by making full disclosure to the new one.

Tho only thing you can try is to defuse her comments by disclosing everything yourself to the prospective new attorney before they talk to her. It sounds like you are what we attorneys call a "problem child" behind your back. Whatever the shortcomings of your attorney's performance, if other attorneys are walking away from work because of what she tells them about you, it is virtually certain that you were part of the problem and/or your case has problems that you are not acknowledging (which may be the number one reason for attorney/client conflicts). So do a serious objective self-inventory of yourself as a client, and of how good or bad your case really is. Figure out what she is or may be telling the other lawyers and find the truth in it. Then be upfront about it with the prospective new attorneys to show you see how things broke down, and that it will be different with them if they take the case. Easier said than done, but that's the best thing to do, really.

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Answered on 10/17/14, 12:13 pm

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