It is not uncommon for a client to feel they made a mistake in hiring their attorney once representation has begun. Such a thought can happen for a number of reasons, including:
- You question the lawyer's competence
- You and your lawyer do not get along
- The lawyer does not adequately communicate with you
- You no longer trust your lawyer's ethics
The Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct state that, “a lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”
If you have any type of concern regarding your lawyer's competence, you should meet with them and bring up your concerns. While at the meeting, ask to see the file that your lawyer created for you.
After your meeting, you should have a feeling one way or the other as to whether or not you feel the lawyer is the right one to represent you in your action.
If you realize that the attorney may lack the requisite legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation that is reasonably necessary for proper representation, it may be time to look for a new lawyer.
Not Getting Along:
You and your lawyer do not have to be best friends. In fact, you do not necessarily need to like one another. However, that aside, you have to trust that your lawyer has your best interest in mind during your representation. If you and your lawyer do not get along as people but you trust them, and believe that they are competent, it may be a good idea to put your differences aside and move forward, together, with the litigation process.
However, if you find that the differences between you and your lawyer rise to a level that inhibits a professional and productive working relationship, it may be best to find another lawyer to represent you in your case.
Lack of Communication:
The Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct state that, “In all professional functions a lawyer should be competent, prompt and diligent. A lawyer should maintain communication with a client concerning the representation.” Further, A lawyer shall:
(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(f), is required by these Rules;
(2) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;
(3) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and
(4) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer's conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Maryland Lawyers' Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
(5) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.
A lawyer failing to return your phone calls or emails can absolutely make you feel unimportant and that your interests are not being represented in a positive and productive manner. If you are unable to get in touch with your lawyer that is often evidence that there could be a problem.
A lack of communication is not necessarily an indictment on your lawyer's competence. Instead, it may be possible that your lawyer is simply overwhelmed and has too many cases to handle. Further, it is also possible that they are understaffed and while they may value your case, they simply need more time to get back to you with the information you are looking for. Regardless, if you feel that your lawyer is not providing the proper frequency of communication that you require, it may be best to find new representation.
How to Terminate Representation:
If after considering all of your options, you do decide to fire your lawyer and find new representation, you should work with your new representation ongoing through the process of terminating the relationship with your former lawyer. Your new lawyer should be able to help you determine how to terminate the lawyer that you no longer wish to have represent you.
Any communication that your former lawyer wishes to make with you should be done through your new representation. If your former lawyer attempts to contact you directly, make certain to let your new representation aware of the situation.