New Lawyers Practice of Law

Be a Skeptic When a Potential Client Wants to Switch Counsel to You

bldtr040046Sometimes you should view a new potential client with skepticism. If the matter has been handled by another attorney and is now being referred or brought to you, there may be a reason you won’t like.

Before accepting a matter previously handled by other counsel, inquire into the reasons for and circumstances of the party’s decision to seek new representation. Frequent changes in counsel can be a sign that the client or matter is for some reason undesirable. For example, the party may

  • Be disputing fees owed to the former attorney;
  • Have unreasonable expectations about the case or otherwise be difficult to work with; or
  • Be involved in a matter that has little merit or other major weaknesses.

You should check out any correspondence and litigation files to verify that any applicable deadlines haven’t passed and to confirm the party’s perception of the status of the litigation.

And remember that just because there’s a valid case, doesn’t mean you should take it. There are at least 7 common practical problems that you should consider before accepting a case.

Of course, if a referral from previous counsel was made for an innocuous or even flattering reason, your inquiries will enable you to acknowledge the favor.

For help on all aspects of changes in representation, including substitution of attorney and withdrawal, with sample forms, turn to CEB’s California Civil Procedure Before Trial, chap 4.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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