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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5733
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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After contracting with an established employment law firm,

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After contracting with an established employment law firm, our case was assigned to a junior lawyer. While he is conscientious about communicating with us, he has waffled on firm stances during the entirety of the negotiation period, and keeps drawing lines in the sand that he then lets the firm's lawyers walk over. It looks like we won't be reaching an agreement pre-trial, and I am scared to go to court with this junior lawyer leading. Is it reasonable/ethical to present our concerns (in a calm fashion) and ask for a more senior lawyer to take charge of the case? Thank you, Melissa

Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

It would not be inappropriate or unethical to suggest to this junior attorney or senior attorneys at the firm that you do not have confidence in his ability to take the matter to trial. It is always the client’s choice to continue to retain counsel or find new counsel. Thus, if you wished you could terminate this attorney and his firm for good reason of not having confidence in his ability to bring this to trial because of the past mistakes. I’d suggest that if you do not have confidence in this attorney, then the attorney – client relationship has deteriorated to the point that it must be severed. If the firm then wants to continue to represent you it should assign a more senior attorney to the matter.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your response. I have a follow-up question. We do believe our lawyer is in earnest, but he seems to have trouble keeping track of the details of the case, and time and again he tells us he is going to do one thing, and then does another. It just seems that he is being led by the nose in the negotiations. He isn't inattentive, and he often comes back to us with a sort of sheepish aspect, and has stated outright that he has never seen a company conduct itself in this fashion, and is frustrated with both the company and its lawyers in the negotation period. He's a nice guy, and he seems to really be trying his best, XXXXX XXXXX have taken all of his advice. The problem is, *he* doesn't seem to be able to take all of his advice. We are not angry, just increasingly alarmed at his toughness and ability to go up against this very unethical, and unrelenting, company. We would want to stay with the same law firm, and we have certainly learned our lesson about contracting thinking that a senior lawyer would be handling the case, and then being assigned a junior lawyer. This is a very respectable firm. We're not looking to cut ties with them, but we would like the more senior, more experienced, and less impressionable lawyers to handle this. We don't think that we should have to pay such close attention to every aspect of the case when we've already paid a 10K retainer. But we don't want to disrupt our relationship with the law firm at large--we really wanted to settle this case by negotiation, and to give you an idea, we agreed to a 30K settlement when it could be 10 times that if we went to (federal) court. They have a very strong case, but we just want to be done with it--we went into this really more for protection than anything, in terms of the contract's non-compete. Now it looks like we're heading into court with a lawyer who couldn't get the job done at $30K for discrimination and breech of contract. We really don't want to totally disrupt things; we just don't want him to be the lead. In other words, we don't want to start over, and we don't want to disrupt our relationship with the firm at large. But we're scared now about a trial. Should we voice our concerns to the junior lawyer lead? Or would doing so damage our relationship with the firm at large? This is no fly by night operation--longstanding firm with excellent reputation.


I would ask the senior attorney that you originally contacted to set up a time to speak with you regarding the case. The junior attorney isn't going to be happy that you did that to be sure, but you really have no other choice. From everything that you've said, I don't seen how you can have confidence in the junior attorney. You can request that the senior attorney handle the trial and/or that the senior attorney try to negotiate a settlement. In most firms the junior attorney will do all the grunt work on the matter up to the time of trial, keeping the senior attorney informed of the matter throughout, and the senior attorney comes in for trial or to attempt to negotiate it. This is economical (the junior attorney is charged less) and practical for the firm. But in your case you appear to have wanted someone with the ability to settle this all along dealing with the company's attorney - you may very well just have a case of a misunderstanding of your expectations. So, 1) I don't think you'd damage your relationship with the firm by voicing these concerns, and 2) you really need to voice this concern because you only get one chance at trial (there are appeals etc., but they're often not successful), and 3) you are running out of time to negotiate a settlement and if this attorney can't do it (the company's attorney doesn't take him seriously) then you need someone in there that can get it nailed down.

Hope this helps. Let me know if you need further assistance. Thanks.
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