You're sitting in your attorney's office, or possibly even in court, and it suddenly comes to you: You hate your attorney with a fiery passion!
But what can you do about it?
By taking the following steps, you can exercise your rights to effective representation and rid yourself of a bad attorney.
1. State Your Complaints to Your Attorney.
Attorneys generally have a duty to communicate with their client, which includes reasonably consulting with you about how you think your defense should be presented.
This will give your attorney a chance to address your concerns and try to fix whatever the breakdown in communication is.
It's a good idea to document your issues with your attorney by communicating via email. That way you will have a solid record if you need to file a legal malpractice claim.
2. Fire Your Attorney.
If you've tried to work with your attorney but nothing is working, there are a couple ways to fire her:
- Ask your attorney to terminate. You can ask your attorney to officially terminate your attorney-client relationship in writing, and you are entitled to any work product the attorney has made for your case.
- Request the court for withdrawal. If in the middle of a hearing or trial, you want a new attorney, it requires a motion to the court for counsel to withdraw. However, this request may be denied by the judge.
- Ask the court to appoint a public defender. You may have already been appointed an assistant public defender by the court, but if the court finds a conflict with you and your current private attorney you may be assigned a public defender.
3. Sue for Malpractice.
You can sue an attorney for malpractice if you are convicted due to that attorney's carelessness in representing you. Some common bases for malpractice claims include:
- Not informing you of possible legal defenses,
- Misappropriating your funds, and
- Failing to communicate with you.
4. Report Your Attorney to the Disciplinary Board.
Your attorney may not be guilty of malpractice, but you can always report your complaints about her to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Disciplinary Board. The Board can suspend or even disbar bad attorneys.
5. Find Another Lawyer.
Once you've gotten rid of your no-good lawyer, you'll probably need to look for another one who's better. Our directory of experienced Philadelphia criminal attorneys is a great place to start.
- Fee Disputes: Lawyer-Client (Philadelphia Bar Association)
- How to Change Your Public Defender (FindLaw's Blotter)
- The Right to Adequate Representation (FindLaw)
- Does Right to Counsel Include Right to Change Counsel? (FindLaw)