Kirk Adams : Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for contacting JustAnswer.
Kirk Adams : What's your question?
Customer: Yeah, whats going on????
Kirk Adams : Hi - I was just now notified that you were online. How can I help?
Customer: I am having concerns about my representation in a PI lawsuit. What avenues are available to me to secure better representation. Trail dates are set for September.Most depositions are done.
Kirk Adams : What are your concerns? Also, how long as your case been pending?
Kirk Adams : The biggest problem with changing attorneys mid-stream is trying to find the time to get a new lawyer up to speed IF the case has been pending for a long time (say a few years).
Kirk Adams : Also, a new attorney may be a little hesitant to take a case away from another lawyer IF there have been some procedural issues or other problems that could make the case harder to try, or if there are issues that could make the case worth less than it may have been.
Customer: I wish I could Talk to a human. My attorney has made mistakes that seem out of line,not only by me but to others as well. The cases was filed January of 2012.
Kirk Adams : Another thing is that IF you were to fire the current attorney, he/she would still be entitled to payment for what work has been done to date, which means that any recover will have to be split between the first attorney and your new one.
Kirk Adams : That's really all of the BAD things about switching attorneys, and now we can talk about getting this done.
Customer: I have a good case I believe its being mishandled..
Kirk Adams : However, if you don't believe that your attorney is handling your case correctly, and if you want to change attorneys before trial, you need to do so ASAP as 4 months is NOT long in legal terms to make this change.
Kirk Adams : If you want to change attorneys, you need to first search out and find a new attorney willing to represent you BEFORE you dismiss or terminate your current lawyer.
Kirk Adams : The best way to find an attorney by area of practice and location is www.martindale.com
Kirk Adams : When you go to the site, you can select "Find a Lawyer or Law Firm" and then enter the relevant information to find lawyers in your area that handle cases like the one you have.
Kirk Adams : The attorney's listed on the site are the best in their fields, and the ones with an AV or BV rating are the best of the best.
Customer: That's why I am so concerned. Yeah,I have checked Martindale already.
Kirk Adams : If you have a good case, then it really should not be too difficult to find a new lawyer willing to take you on as a client.
Kirk Adams : ....even with the issues and concerns that follow transferring a case in the middle of litigation.
Customer: I am worried that my attorney is selling me out. He told me I have a great case.
Kirk Adams : Do you think he's trying to settle the case for too little?
Customer: How do I determine how much time my current attorney has invested in my case?
Kirk Adams : As for how much time your attorney has in the case, you can ask for an itemized bill that shows all work he has done on your case and his corresponding hourly rate.
Customer: Bad spelling sorry.
Kirk Adams : Ok. If you think that the attorney is trying to get you to settle for less than you're willing to accept, the easiest thing is to ask your attorney WHY he thinks your case isn't worth more; ask him to tell you the problems he sees with your case and why things may take a turn for the worst.
Kirk Adams : The attorney can tell you the holes in your case - - every case has problems, some more severe than others.
Kirk Adams : You need to know the possible pitfalls out there so you can make a good decision about what to do.
Customer: Will all case files be available to me for new attorney. He just wants to settle. He tried a mediation route but that was shotdown
Kirk Adams : YES - - the file is YOURS, not your attorney's.
Kirk Adams : So, if you change attorney's, you have a right to take your file with you.
Customer: Can I request a review of work to date?
Kirk Adams : Yes, you have a right to see your file at any time.
Customer: How do I go about it?
Kirk Adams : Reviewing your file should be as easy as going to your attorney's office and asking to see the file; you can even request that a copy of the entire file be made and given to you for review.
Customer: Can I file a motion for PRO SE that will allow me to speak in court on my own behalf?
Kirk Adams : You can terminate your attorney, and when you do that, your lawyer will file a motion to withdraw as counsel.
Kirk Adams : Once your lawyer is released from the case, you will be allowed to proceed on your own behalf (pro se).
Customer: He's going to freak out when I request a copy of my file right?
Kirk Adams : He's probably going to want to know WHY you want a copy, and you can tell him that you just want to review the case so you'll know everything that has gone on in order to be prepared for trial.
Kirk Adams : IF you want a new attorney, you can get him/her to get the file from your current lawyer -- which would keep you out of the mess.
Customer: Yeah,OK. Probably should talk to new counsel. Would a paralegal be any benefit to me to help understand this any better?
Kirk Adams : Possibly, a paralegal could give you some information - - but it's not the same as speaking to an attorney.
Kirk Adams : BECAUSE OF THE SHORT TIME FRAME you're working with, it would really be best if you meet with another attorney to see if you can switch over before the trial date gets any closer.
Customer: Just wondering. Most of this has just unfolded within the last 10 days.
Kirk Adams : Also, it is very possible for your new attorney to request a continuance of the trial if he/she isn't ready to proceed/up to speed with the facts of the case.
Kirk Adams : However, you may not want to continue the matter any longer - - you may want it over ASAP.
Customer: If it would help new counsel,I can wait.
Kirk Adams : With only 4 months, your new lawyer may want to continue the case until the next term of court - - which is probably within 6 months from September.
Kirk Adams : 4 months sounds like a long time, but most attorneys have so many cases going on, that's just not a lot of time to prepare, review depositions, discovery, pleadings, motions, etc. to be fully prepared to go to trial.
Kirk Adams : Also, getting a continuance may give your new attoreny some time to try and work a better settlement with the other party's attorney.
Customer: Alright,you pretty much confirmed what I thought. I'll go to Martindale and see who will give me a shot.
Kirk Adams : Yeah, www.martindale.com is the best attorney site out there in my opinion. It's the oldest and most respected attorney ranking system in the country. It's totally independent and unbiased.
Customer: Do I pick the highest rated or drop down a few??
Kirk Adams : It's probably best to start with the AV and BV rated lawyers and go from there. Also, your new attorney will know this, but the most important thing with transitioning is to get the fees from your current lawyer ASAP and also make sure the ENTIRE case file is turned over.
Customer: Does the current attorney have a duty to provide the ENTIRE file???
Kirk Adams : Yes. Like I said, it's your file.
Customer: Any other suggestions on how to proceed??
Kirk Adams : The best suggestion is to try and move fast since you're on a short time frame. That's going to be the biggest problem with trying to convince a new attorney to take the case over. BUT, if you inform the lawyer that you're willing to allow the case to be continued to allow for him/her to get up to speed, that should be a hurdle you can cross successfully.
Customer: OK. The kind of law in Louisiana is different,right. Is it Kings law or Blacks law, or what????
Kirk Adams : Louisiana law is based on French law, and it's generally referred to as the Napoleonic Code. The entireity of the law is not different from other states, but real estate law, wills and estates and procedural rules are a little different than in other states - - which use common law principles from England.
Customer: Napoleonic,yeah that's what it's called. Thanks for the time and info. I don't know what else to ask.
Kirk Adams : If something comes up, you can come back to this Q&A and ask me anything that you need.
Customer: Thanks. I'm nervous about all this.