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Can I change lawyers for my compensation claim?

The main reasons clients might seek to change lawyers for their personal injury claim are:

  • the client is unhappy with the communication from their current lawyer and doesn’t know the current status of their matter
  • the client is unhappy with the fees charged / accruing by the current lawyer
  • the client becomes aware of a more suitable or affordable lawyer
  • the client feels like their solicitor is not progressing the matter in a timely manner

If your lawyer becomes aware that you are unhappy with their service, they will probably do their best to solve the problem – so a simple phone call is usually enough to get things back on track. 

However, if you are unhappy with your legal representation (and a simple phone call still isn’t able to resolve things) for any reason, you can change lawyers at any time.

The Cost of Changing Lawyers

When you change lawyers during the course of your injury claim, you will still usually have to pay the legal fees to your original lawyer for the work already completed.

For most claims, the original lawyer will not release your file to your newly appointed law firm until you have paid the original lawyer’s legal bill. However, if the original lawyer took your case on a ‘no win ‐ no fee’ arrangement (common in personal injury law), the original lawyer will often accept a written agreement from you to pay their legal fees in future once your matter is finalised. 

Not all firms will agree to this arrangement; so carefully check your original costs agreement before changing firms. The new law firm will probably be willing to review the costs agreement with you so that you understand the cost implications of switching before you do so. 

Generally speaking, the cost of changing lawyers depends on the current stage your legal matter. In the early stages of your claim, it can be a very insignificant sum. Your new lawyers will be able to estimate the fees likely to be incurred by switching, and the legal fees likely to be incurred taking over your matter and running it to a conclusion. 

Your new lawyer may be more affordable than your original lawyer due to a lower hourly rate, or a more efficient process. So in the long run, your overall legal fees may end up being less than if you didn’t make the change.

The Benefits of Changing Lawyers

If you have already lost faith in your current lawyer, the benefits of changing law firms are obvious. You need to be sure that you are being represented as best as possible considering that your outcome often depends on more than just the merits of your case. Your lawyer should believe in you and your case, and be available to talk to you as the matter progresses. 

If you are concerned about losing your case and having to pay the legal fees of the defendant (because your lawyer’s no win no fee agreement doesn’t protect you from this scenario), you should know that some law firms exist that do offer this protection. 

Changing Lawyers is Easy

Once your new lawyers have conduct of your matter, they will notify all other parties about the change in representation. If court proceedings have already commenced for your matter, your new law firm will notify the court of the change.

If you feel like your lawyer isn’t acting in your best interests, or are concerned that the costs agreement you entered into with them isn’t fair – talk to us at Roche Legal. We are often appointed to take over personal injury files due to our unique no risk protection that provides clients costs certainty above and beyond standard No Win No Fee agreements.

This commentary is published by Roche Legal for general information purposes only and should not be relied on as specific advice. The content relates to Queensland law only and is subject to change over time. You should seek legal advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any decision.