Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can You Get A New Lawyer?

I've received a number of inquiries lately from Chicago-area people who have personal injury cases with a different lawyer. These people no longer wish to work with their prior attorney for a variety of reasons. But they all have the same question in common: Can they get a new lawyer even though they have a contract with their current lawyer?

The answer is yes. Illinois law provides that a client may discharge his or her attorney at any time, for basically any reason. This law was made clear in the case Rhoades v. Norfolk & Western Ry. Co. (1979). Many people who have personal injury cases think they can't get a new lawyer to work on their case because they signed a contract with their old attorney. However, contingency-fee contracts cease to exist and the contingency term is no longer operative when a client terminates an attorney working under a contingency-fee contract. This law was made clear in a case called In re Estate of Callahan (1991).

Victims of personal injury cases and their families have a right to experienced, competent, and professional representation. To me this relationship of trust and respect is the most important part of the attorney-client relationship and the key to a successful approach to a case. Clients should feel comfortable with their attorney and trust that everything that could be done for them is being done. Clients also have a right to know what has happened, is happening, and is going to happen in their case. Cases shouldn't "sit" in an office - cases should move towards a resolution.

Just as you would with a doctor, you have the right to get a second opinion if you want one. If you have any questions regarding this post or any issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or All initial consultations are confidential and free.