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Vancouver, Washington

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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
Contributor •

Changing attorneys

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Recently I received a call from a consumer injured in an auto collision. I listened to their story and learned they were a pedestrian in a crosswalk crossing on a green signal when a car decided to make a right hand turn. They were hit, rolled up over the hood and thrown to the pavement. They were fortunate enough to survive with only a bad case of road rash and a sprained shoulder. After I heard their story, I walked them through the law on pedestrians in crosswalks, explained their right to be compensated for their injury and told them how the process worked. That’s when I learned they already had an attorney. They explained how dissatisfied they were with their lawyer. It seems he never returns their calls. Calls to his secretary to schedule an appointment are met with the response that only he schedules his appointments and she’d have to take a message. They wondered about the process of switching to another law firm. Although calls of this type are rare, most people are unaware they have an absolute right to change attorneys at any time. They may end up owing the former attorney for the work he or she has done to date, but the new attorney can usually work out some sort of arrangement to share any attorney fee once the case is settled. This way it doesn’t cost the client any money out of pocket when the switch occurs. And the attorney being discharged is required by law to surrender the file to the client or the new attorney of their choosing. If consumers are in an unhappy relationship with an attorney, changing counsel is often the wisest path to take.