CONSUMER INFORMATION CENTRE

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Is Changing Lawyer Really a Good Idea?

A relationship of trust and open communication with your lawyer is essential.

When should you consider changing lawyers?

The solicitor, client relationship.

Effective legal representation is very important and can make all the difference to the outcome of a case. A relationship of trust and open communication with your lawyer is just as important.  You have to work together as a team.  If the relationship breaks down it is highly likely your case will suffer as a result.

Don’t delay. Act promptly.

If you decide to change lawyers it is important to act promptly. If you have a case before a court, do not assume an adjournment will automatically be granted because you have recently changed lawyers. Whether an adjournment is granted is for the court to decide and will depend on the details and age of the case.  The longer you leave it, the less likely the court or an opposing party will allow you additional time.

What is the problem and can it be resolved?

We recommend that anyone considering changing lawyers first seek to sort things out with their current lawyer if that is possible. Remember a new lawyer will need to go over and charge for reviewing all the work you have already paid for. If a final hearing or other important appearance is looming a new lawyer may not have the time to properly prepare your case.

Take the time to decide whether changing lawyers is the best choice for you and your case. Changing lawyers can be a costly exercise and disadvantage your case in some circumstances. The later in a proceeding the higher the costs and risks.

Unless there is something drastically wrong, you should at least advise your lawyer of your concerns and see if they are prepared to fix the problem.

Get a second opinion.

If time permits speak to another lawyer about your case and concerns before making a decision to change lawyers.  You may find you receive the same advice.  If another lawyer provides different advice ask for a detailed explanation of the reasons for that advice.  Do not accept advice just because it is appealing.

Remember a lawyer’s advice is only as good as the information they have.  Be sure to provide all the information relevant to your case when seeking a second opinion.

A suggested process.

You might consider taking the following steps:

• Identify exactly what it is that is concerning you. Writing this down may help you organise and communicate your concerns.

• Communicate the concerns to your lawyer and ask them to respond either in person or in writing.

• Consider your lawyer’s response and whether it addresses your concerns?

Q: Has the lawyer acknowledged your concern?

Q: Has the lawyer alleviated your concern by better explaining the law, the evidence or another aspect of the case?

Q: Has the lawyer explained what will be done differently to address your concerns?

Finding a new lawyer

If the relationship with your lawyer is beyond repair, or you are not satisfied with the response your receive, then you should immediately take steps to retain a new lawyer.

It is a good idea to collect all your documents including any you need to recover from your previous lawyer. Having that material will assist the new lawyer.

Your new lawyer will need a complete and accurate account of the events in your case to that time.  Providing incomplete or inaccurate information will only set your lawyer and your case up to fail.

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