How to fire a lawyer in Chicago

A common myth that we hear from clients is that switching attorneys is hard or not allowed.  We always encourage people to stay the course if they can or try to work things out if possible, but much like the 2010 Cubs, sometimes it's just not working.

The farther you are in to a case, the harder it is to find a lawyer to take over.  The same is true if you are looking for a last minute replacement.

Assuming you can find a new lawyer (and you should try to have one in place before bouncing the old one), the type of case you have will dictate how you fire your attorney.

If you are paying a lawyer by the hour like in a divorce or criminal matter, getting a new attorney on the case is just a matter of settling your old bill and paying a new retainer fee to hire the new law firm.

If your attorney has been working on a contingency basis, then getting an attorney to take over depends on how far along the case is.  For example, if your case involved a car accident and a lawsuit has been filed, the old attorney may still be entitled to something.  If a settlement offer has been made even if there is no suit filed, they still might get something.

On the other hand, if the attorney hasn't done much and no lawsuit has been filed, getting a new lawyer is usually a piece of cake, especially if you have a good claim.

As far as what to say, it's nothing like a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend.  You can tell them as much or little as you want and usually the new attorney will give you instructions on how to end things.  There is no right way to do it, but I recommend that you treat it like you are pulling off a bandaid.  Just do it and move on.

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