What do I do if I have a problem with my attorney?
Much of the problems that clients and attorneys have stem from problems with communication. If you have any concern with how your attorney is representing you, call them. Often a call to an attorney’s staff member who is assigned to your file will answer your question.
If you are not satisfied with the answer of the staff member or don’t get one, it is time to take it to the next level. Sit down in a quiet place and write out the questions you want answered. Then, call your attorney’s office and ask for an appointment with your attorney. Show up on time with your written questions and ask them. Listen carefully to the answers and see if your concerns are alleviated. This face to face contact is the best chance to resolve your problems at the lowest level.
Clients sometimes confuse the objective answers to questions their attorney gives them to their questions with the attorney, “Not being on their side.” An attorney is obligated to tell you the facts, oftentimes not what you would wish to hear. Everyone would want a rosy picture of their case, but sometimes, a case is not rosy.
If you are still unsatisfied with the answer, or you still don’t get one, you can always switch attorneys. If you tell an attorney to stop working on your case, he is ethically obligated to stop working, advise you of the next deadline or deadlines, and withdraw from the case. However, that does not mean that you don’t have to pay your attorney whatever you promised to pay in the contract you signed with him or her.
In a contingent fee contract, one where there are no fees unless there is a recovery, you assign a certain percentage of your recovery to your attorney. In Texas, if you tell an attorney to stop working on your case and hire another with a contingency fee contract, you assign another, separate percentage of your case to another attorney. Under the law in Texas, if you assigned 33% of your recovery to attorney A, fired him, then assigned another 40% to attorney B, you would owe 77% of your total recovery to two different attorneys. Oftentimes in these situations the attorneys work out the assignments and split one attorney fee, but that does not always happen.
If your attorney does not answer your questions at all or you believe he or she has done something wrong, you can always complain to the State Bar of Texas about the attorney in the form of a grievance. Once you have completed it, you would mail it to the State Bar Chief Disciplinary Counsels office. The address is on the form.
While switching attorneys is problematic, filing a grievance is a serious matter, so make every attempt to work out your problems with your attorney before you do either. Contact us HERE for a free consultation.