I am planning to sign a retainer agreement in personal injury case. I specify in the retainer that I would like to have a specific attorney who would be responsible for the case and who would be a lead trial attorney handling the trial. What if this attorney retires from the law firm in mid-litigation -- and I do not want anyone else from the firm to handle the case - what options do I have in terms of preparing the retainer agreement to protect my interests?
State/Country relating to question: New York
Thank you for your question. I believe I assisted you in the past.What you can do is put in a clause stating that upon retirement, you reserve the right to take your case elsewhere and seek other counsel, and the current law firm would be limited in pursuing only their costs from the claim. However no reasonable law firm would agree to such terms. If they are investing their hours and time, they deserve to get paid. If you move your case elsewhere, something that you can do, expect the existing firm to attach a lien against the winnings, meaning that your current and the past firm would get paid before you will receive your payment.Good luck.Dimitry Esquire41074.1837802894
so in reality nothing that can be done? Do you know of some other way to handle it.
Thank you for your follow-up.This is a tough situation because it is a retainer agreement. The law firm in question can still demand that their costs and fees be covered if you choose to stop working with them, or take your case elsewhere. As I said, you can possibly try to get them to agree by having you obtain this right to leave and go elsewhere, but do not be surprised that they will place a lien against the winnings in the amount of how many hours they worked on this case. Once you sign, there is no legitimate way to get out of paying the other law firm; you can still choose to quit and not work with them, that is no problem, but they will pursue you for their hours that they spent representing you.Good luck.Dimitry Esquire41074.6948653125
I understand -- basicly it is not different if I just decide to dismiss a law firm for "no cause" -- which I can do regrdless of whtether the attorney retired or not. In other words if I specify in the retainer that I expect this specific attorney to work on the case and nobody else -- and then he retires -- I cannot dismiss this law firm for cause. Or stated differently the retirement cannot be used as a dismissal for cause (when no fees except the disbursements can be claimed by the firm) even though the retianer stated that he should be the one working on the case and nobody else.
Thank you for your follow-up.That is the correct assessment. You do not have to work with them, but if you choose to terminate your relationship with the firm, for whatever reason, they can still demand compensation from the ultimate payoff in this suit once it settles.Good luck.Dimitry Esquire41074.7423403588
so even though my retainer states that specific attorney will represnt me during the litigation and then this attorney retires -- then this would not constitute firing the law firm for cause??. Can you expalin this -- because it appears that the law firm is breaking the condition of the retainer agreement -- and, at least in my opinion -- this would be firing for cause -- thus the law firm cannot claim their fees (except the disbursements).
Thank you for your follow-up.While you hired the attorney, you hired the full firm also. If due to no control of their own that attorney quits or retires, that is no a firing for cause because that law firm did not cause that condition from taking place. But please remember it does not matter if you fire 'for cause' or not, you always have the right to terminate, they just also have the right to be paid for all the work they did up to the date you chose to retain someone else.Good luck.Dimitry Esquire41074.7645488079
what if the attorney told me that he is not planning to retire during my litigation -- but he did later (no health problems or anything unexpected like this). Would this be for cause then?
No, it would not. The law firm had nothing to do with his retirement.Good luck and take care.Dimitry Esquire41074.7821513542
I provide basic personal injury advice to my clients in my own practice.
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