In this information sheet we cover the topic of changing a lawyer mid-case, whether it has any effect on your matter and how lawyers are reimbursed if you change to another lawyer.
Here at the Law Office of Conrad Curry we are frequently instructed by clients who are dissatisfied with the legal advice they are getting from their instructed personal injury lawyers. There are many valid reasons clients decide to change lawyers, such as:
– They are not getting regular updates;
– The instructed firm is a general firm and does not specialise in medical negligence and / or personal injury work;
– The case is taking too long;
– The instructed lawyer does not return their calls;
– The lawyer does not understand the case;
– They have lost confidence in their instructed lawyer;
– The senior lawyer they initially instructed has delegated the case to junior or clerical staff;
– The instructed lawyer is not familiar with the case; and/or
– There is a high turn over of solicitors at the firm and in their case.
We thought it would be helpful to answer some of the more frequent questions we get asked when clients feel like they may want to change lawyers during their case.
Costs agreements between clients and lawyers are highly regulated by the Legal Profession Uniform Law (NSW). Most agreements in personal injury matters will be on a no-win no-fee basis. The costs agreements tend to follow similar standard models and usually contain a clause explaining how to terminate the agreement.
Call and speak to a different personal injury lawyer to get their perspective. We all ask our clients to sign costs agreements everyday so we are very familiar with the termination clauses and can explain what the clause means.
The usual process will involve the new lawyer entering into a tripartite agreement with the old firm. This means that we will agree to pay their reasonable costs and disbursements should we receive a successful out-come for the client.
After the tripartite deed is signed, the former firm will send your file to us.
As we are working in the no-win no-fee area, costs are not payable until settlement/ judgement. At the end of a matter, just before settlement, we will write to the former firm and ask them for their bill of costs and disbursements. If the bill is reasonable, we reimburse them for their work out of the settlement proceeds.
In that case we will analyse the bill and if we agree that it is not reasonable, we will contact the former lawyers and ask them to discount it. If they do not agree, we can request a formal assessment of the costs.
You needn’t worry about upsetting your previous lawyer, we will do that for you once you decide to change. Lawyers have amicable relations with other lawyers. We are not personally upset when clients decide to involve a different lawyer in their case.
We are able to quickly and efficiently facilitate the change and the whole process usually only takes a couple of weeks.
There is nothing to stop you changing lawyers again and the same process would apply.
This can be more complex, but usually if a client wishes to pursue a professional negligence case as opposed to a product liability class action, it is possible to be signed to two different firms. Just be aware that principles of double compensation will mean that you cannot be compensated for the same injury twice.
We hope that has answered your questions. As a specialist personal injury firm, we cover medical negligence, CTP, workers compensation, public liability, intentional torts and institutional abuse cases. We will not charge to discuss changing firms. Get in touch if you would like further non-obligation advice.