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Can You Change Your Attorney In The Middle of A Case? - NY Defense

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Can You Change Your Attorney In The Middle of A Case?


There’s no question that the relationship between a client and their attorney is a special one. Both the client and the attorney need to commit to a certain level of trust. There needs to be clear and honest communication. The attorney needs to have availability and accessibility. The client needs to be open to expressing every detail of their circumstances. They both need to strategize and work together. But what happens if this relationship breaks down? A lot of clients will want to know if it is possible to change your attorney. This is a very sensitive situation that will depend on many different factors. In this article, we discuss if it’s possible to change your attorney in the middle of a case, how to change attorneys, and how it can affect your case if you do replace your attorney.

It is Possible to Change Your Attorney

The short answer to that question is, yes — you can change your attorney in the middle of a case if you wish to do so. This relationship is based on a contract. But, no one wants to be stuck in a contract against their will and judges aren’t likely to enforce it. When a client or an attorney believes that the relationship isn’t salvageable, either party can choose to leave. However, if you decide that you want to change your attorney the night before a trial starts, and you don’t have a replacement attorney ready, a judge could potentially deny you that request. This is to avoid inconsistencies, prejudices, or overall inconvenience to the opposing party.

Is it Wise to Change Your Attorney in the Middle of a Case?

Before you decide to break it off with your attorney and find a new one, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • What specifically went wrong here with this relationship?
  • Can we save this relationship?
  • Do I have a replacement?
  • How much would it cost?
  • Will my new attorney have time to catch themselves up on my case?

These questions cover major factors that will determine if it’s worth it for you to change your attorney mid-case. The elements that broke down the relationship, the ability to fix it, money, time, and another attorney’s knowledge and understanding of your case all need to be assessed. Let’s say you’re already in the middle of a very complex criminal case. A lot is at stake. Everything will depend on your attorney’s ability to defend you. Is it wise to uproot your attorney to hire a new one? That will depend on the factors mentioned above. Normally, a new attorney will charge a hefty retainer at this point due to the fact that they’re stepping in the middle of a case. They’ll need time to prepare, which you may or may not have. The point is, it’s important to evaluate your circumstances thoroughly before you decide to change your attorney.

How to Change Your Attorney

If you’ve thoroughly assessed your situation and you strongly believe that your attorney is not acting in your best interest, changing your attorney might be your best option. First, it’s never recommended to fire your attorney before you’ve found a replacement. This is especially true for defendants that are in the middle of a case. Once you’ve done your research and you’ve found a new attorney that works for you, your previous attorney will have to file a notice of withdrawal. Once the notice of withdrawal has been submitted, you need to start collecting all relevant materials back from them. Your previous attorney will have to return original documents, relevant paperwork, or personal property. In addition, your previous attorney will have to refund any money that remains in the original retainer. If you owe money to your previous lawyer, you may face a lien on monies received from your case. It’s wise to pay any unpaid fees up front to your old lawyer if it’s possible. If not, the lien will remain on any proceeds you receive.

For More Information On Changing Your Attorney

If you’re contemplating a change in representation, it’s important to act as soon as possible. You’ll need to do a lot of work mid-case in order to stay on track. While changing your attorney in the middle of a case can be challenging, it’s not impossible. But you will need to act fast. A new attorney could be exactly what you need to assure yourself that your case is handled properly. In addition, you’ll want time to build a new rapport with your new attorney. If you were lacking trust with your previous attorney, you know how important it can be to build a solid relationship before your trial. Contact a trusted criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your options.