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How can I fire my divorce lawyer?

It’s unusual for a lawyer to talk about how to fire your lawyer. That’s why I’m writing this article.

Should you fire your lawyer? I don’t know. That’s for you to decide. To assist you in deciding I discuss reasons for firing a lawyer before discussing how to do it.

Why fire a lawyer?

As an Illinois divorce lawyer, I don’t have any problem with a client knowing how to fire me. Think about it. Would you want a lawyer whose greatest fear is a client knowing how to fire a lawyer? If a client feels they need a different lawyer, I would wish him or her the best.

Family law is a very personal business.

Here are some reason to fire a lawyer:

  1. Personality conflicts: Your lawyer is not your best friend. Getting a lawyer that simply does whatever you want can be a recipe for disaster. However, if personality conflicts are seriously hampering your ability to deal with your lawyer, that’s a reason to seek other counsel.
  2. Lack of communication: I recently got a new client whose previous lawyer failed to communicate regarding just about every aspect of the case. If you feel you cannot communicate with your lawyer, or your lawyer is not keeping you informed, it’s time to look elsewhere.
  3. Switcharoo: Many times a client will hire a “law firm,” not a particular lawyer. That means that the firm can have anyone at the firm represent the client in court. One on hand, there is at times a need to have a different lawyer appear, and I often use co-counsel. But, on the other hand, some firms surprise clients by putting a very junior person on their case who seems not to know what’s going on.
  4. Robotic lawyering: One of my new clients hire me because her old lawyer seems to be simply going through the motions. When I reviewed the court file, I could see that the previous lawyer did not sufficiently address major areas of concern.
  5. Whacky billing: I recently reviewed a different lawyer’s invoice to my new client. That lawyer was billing himself out at $500 an hour, and was billing out paralegals at $175 an hour. I checked the lawyer’s website, and in the “About” section he lists himself, and about 7 paralegals and legal assistants – but not other lawyers. To me, that’s a guy getting cheap labor from paralegals and legal assistants, probably paying them $20 an hour, and marking up their time by about 700 percent.

How to fire a lawyer

Firing a lawyer is very easy. Contact that lawyer and tell him or her that you want that lawyer to either withdraw, or substitute for a another lawyer. If you are hiring a new lawyer, the new lawyer can often contact your old lawyer to handle the substitution. What you have to understand is that lawyers cannot simply stop going to court because that’s what you desire – the Court must allow them to get off the case. That’s done by an order to withdraw, or an order to substitute.

If a client of mine feels they desire different representation, I will work to expedite that transition.

About the author: Contact Illinois family law attorney David Wolkowitz at 312-554-5433 or online. He is a family law and divorce attorney serving Chicago and the Counties of Cook, Champaign, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. Areas of practice include divorce, uncontested divorce, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, child support, and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction & Enforcement Act (the “UCCJEA”).