Breaking Up is Hard To Do: Don’t Get Caught in the Middle of Feuding Attorneys

If your attorney has just left his or her law firm, you’re likely asking yourself: What should I do? Where does this leave my case? Should I be concerned? Each of these questions is reasonable, and as you move forward you should be aware of the variety of options you have available to you. In this situation it is imperative that you ensure your case is being handled effectively and your rights are being protected.

When an attorney leaves a law firm or a law firm dissolves, many thorny ethical and practical issues may arise, which have the potential to adversely affect your case. For example, the attorneys involved may have to resort to litigation to handle various issues that arise within the firm and this may serve as a significant distraction from what is important—getting the best result for you in your case. Additionally, your attorney may be contractually obligated to keep his or her files with the previous firm. This could mean that your case will be handed over to an attorney who does not have any knowledge of your case, causing significant delay. While it is true that as a client you have the absolute right to stay with your previous attorney and not be absorbed by the firm, the majority of attorneys’ fees may still be allocated to the former firm, which creates less of an incentive for your attorney to maximize your result. This environment is also ripe for disputes between the attorney and the former firm about the percentage of fees each is entitled to, which, in turn, could slow down the receipt of your trial or settlement monies.

Moreover, if you choose to follow your previous attorney to his or her new firm, there will be growing pains associated with the attorney setting up a new business. The lack of financial stability in addition to the turmoil and chaos that naturally goes along with such a situation will by definition result in delays in the pursuit of your claim. The lack of financial overhead in the new business could translate into not having enough money to fully staff the firm, and without this essential underlying structure your file could get lost in the shuffle. Additionally, because of the lack of overhead, a new business does not have the ability to front the various costs of litigation, which could result in your attorney pursuing a strategy that is prudent for the firm but not your individual case. Don’t be a part of the collateral damage—look elsewhere for counsel who will be focused on your claim and not on settling ongoing internal disputes.

You have options! You can: 1) discuss your concerns with your current attorney and verify that the firm is still committed to protecting your rights despite the internal turmoil; 2) discuss your options with an outside attorney practicing in the same area of law to determine whether it is in your best interests to move to another firm; or 3) terminate your current attorney’s representation and have another firm take over your file immediately.

You may be surprised to learn that transferring your representation to another attorney is relatively easy and hassle-free. In addition, depending on your circumstances, it may help avoid an undue delay of your claim and provide the best chance for a favorable result. If you are involved with a workers’ compensation and claim and choose to move to another firm, you are able to continue treating with your current doctor and your Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant (QRC) will remain on the case. Furthermore, deciding to leave your present attorney and firm will not cost you any additional money as all attorneys’ fees in the State of Minnesota are capped at the same amount based on statute. This cap does not change when you decide to switch to another attorney. In fact, any attorneys’ fees that are owed at the resolution of your case must be split between all the attorneys who have worked on your case.

If you want to talk to an experienced, knowledgeable attorney about your options, call Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation consultation. Meuser Law is an established law firm that has been around for more than twenty-five years, and our team-centered approach guarantees that you will always have more than one attorney who is familiar with your case and fighting on your behalf.