Instead, he represents you.
In your case against your doctor.
You hired him because he was the BEST lawyer you could find.
You hired him from a TV ad.
You weren't really looking for an attorney.
While watching TV one night, commercial popped up.
It was an attorney advertisement.
He sounded like he knew what he was doing.
He said he'd been handling these cases for 20 years.
He also said he got good results.
One of his former clients was on there too saying she liked him.
He got her a good result.
You spent fifteen minutes on the phone giving all your information to the receptionist.
She promised an attorney would call you back.
She didn't promise that the attorney you saw in the commercial would call you back.
She simply said "An attorney from his office will be in touch with you soon."
You didn't really expect an attorney to call you at 10:00 o'clock at night, did you?
The next morning, an attorney called you at 10:00 a.m.
He wanted you to come in so he could talk to you.
There was no mention about meeting with the attorney in the TV ad.
In his office.
It was inconvenient, but you made the trip.
Parking was a bitch.
When you arrived, they kept you waiting for fifteen minutes.
In a crowded waiting room.
The attorney you met with looked young.
He looked inexperienced.
He had a baby face.
He said he handled cases like mine.
He said he had experience with cases like mine.
There was never any discussion about the attorney in the TV ad handline your case.
You found one who sounded confident.
He had a decent office.
He said he had experience.
So, you signed up with him.
He told you he'd take care of getting your medical records.
He said he'd do a complete investigation.
He'd send your medical records to an expert for review.
Then, he'd be in touch with you.
You haven't heard from him since.
You haven't heard one peep from his law firm.
No phone calls.
Did he fall asleep?
You didn't want to bother him.
Surely he must be busy.
But so busy that he doesn't have time to update you on whether you even have a case?
You've had enough.
You want answers.
You deserve answers.
To be ignored is just not right.
You call his office.
You leave a message.
One day goes by.
Two days go by.
You're getting frustrated now.
You call again.
He's not available.
He's with other clients.
One day goes by.
Two, three, four days without any reply.
This is ridiculous!
You send him a text.
You ask for his secretary or paralegal.
They sympathize with you.
But, he's the boss and they have strict instructions that he is not to be disturbed.
This is bull!
You show up in his office the next day.
You're told he's in court.
You angrily tell the receptionist that you'll wait.
You wait for hours.
You go home more frustrated than ever.
You have no update.
You don't know what this law firm has done for you over the past six months.
They haven't told you.
You don't know what records still have not been received.
You don't know if an expert has reviewed your case.
You don't know what kind of expert will be reviewing your case.
You're fed up.
You finally ask for the TV lawyer you saw in the ad.
You're told that he was just an actor and not a real lawyer.
The law firm paid a company to run those TV ads.
Any calls were then directed to this law firm.
Maybe you just didn't know what questions to ask when you first called.
You've reached the breaking point now.
You want another attorney.
You want to get away from this know-nothing law firm.
You want to hire a real attorney.
Someone who is responsive to your calls.
Someone who pays attention to you.
You want answers.
From a real trial lawyer.
But you've heard that it's hard to go to another attorney.
You've heard from your friends that YOU have to pay the attorney for the records he obtained.
Is this true?
Are all these things true?
The answer is no, not exactly.
Here's what I mean...
At any time.
If you're unhappy with your lawyer, you can get a divorce.
You don't have to go to family court.
In fact, you don't have to go to court.
Here's what you do...
Start searching for another attorney.
Search through all the results.
Look at the websites.
Look at what information each lawyer gives you.
Do they have free books for you?
Do they have hundreds and thousands of videos to teach and educate you?
Are they trying to 'sell' you or are they trying to teach you how your type of case works?
When you meet with the attorney will he be the one who handles your case day to day?
Will he be the one who handles your pretrial deposition?
If you have questions, will he be the one to answer them?
Will the attorney you meet with be a trial lawyer?
Will he be a partner in the firm?
If you become a client how often will they communicate with you?
Once you decide on the right law firm for you, your new attorney simply sends a letter to attorney #1.
The letter says "STOP ALL WORK. WE NOW REPRESENT MRS. JONES IN HER MATTER."
The letter then invites the lawyer to send the entire file over immediately.
That prompts attorney #1 to call attorney #2.
"Hmm...no. If we're successful we will make sure you are repaid your $3,000 at the end of the case."
"Umm...no," says attorney #1.
"You want the file, take it. But you must also repay me for my expenses," says attorney #1.
What's going on here?
One is trying to be dominant.
One has leverage.
One has the client.
One has the file.
The other wants to pay at the end, only if you're successful.
What will happen?
One of two options...
One lawyer caves in.
Or, he may say "No, you want the file, pay me now."
If the attorneys cannot resolve this dispute amongst themselves, they must ask the judge to intervene.
You can imagine how much interest the judge has in resolving this in-fighting between the two attorneys.
Not very much.
The next issue that needs to be resolved behind the scenes is how much of a fee attorney #1 is actually entitled to.
To answer that question, we look to see what actual legal work he did up till now.
Did he obtain your medical records?
Did he meet with a medical expert?
Did he purchase an index number? (That's an identifying number from the court for your lawsuit)
Did he prepare and file a summons and complaint?
Did he respond to the defense's answers to your allegations?
Did he reply to the defense's discovery demands?
And he hasn't had your records reviewed by a medical expert,
And he hasn't started your lawsuit yet,
He may not be entitled to any legal fee.
On the other hand, the attorneys need to agree on what percentage of the attorney's fee attorney #1 will receive for the actual work he has performed on your case till now.
Likewise, Attorney #2 will ONLY get paid their percentage of the attorney's fee IF you are successful.
So, to answer the question I raised in the headline, can you DIVORCE your medical malpractice lawyer?
Yes you can.
Is it difficult?
Do I take over cases started by another attorney?
I used to.
But not now.
There's too much baggage for me.
I now have a policy.
I don't take cases started by other attorneys.
There are plenty of other lawyers in New York who do.