What are my options if I do not like what my lawyer is doing?
Talk to your lawyer about your concerns. It may be beneficial to put your concerns in writing, in an email or letter so that you can keep a record of your interaction with your lawyer. Your lawyer may have very good reasons for the decisions that s/he has made and can hopefully explain his/her legal strategy. If you do not like the decisions and/or you disagree with the direction that your lawyer wants to take your case, be clear in explaining why you think the strategy is a problem. If after talking to your lawyer, you are still concerned that your lawyer is not representing you well, you may want to talk to another lawyer, if possible, to get a second opinion about what your lawyer is telling you or doing (or not doing) in court. An advocate at a local domestic violence program or another lawyer may also help you think through questions you might want to ask your lawyer to help you better understand the lawyer’s strategy.
If you are still unhappy with your lawyer’s representation of you, you may decide to fire your lawyer and hire a new lawyer. If you do this, make sure that you get copies of your files from your first lawyer so that your next lawyer will have everything s/he needs to represent you. However, firing your lawyer and getting a new one may not be a realistic option when your attorney was given to you through a free legal services organization or appointed by the judge (if your state appoints lawyers in civil proceedings). In the majority of cases, the supply of lawyers who provide free representation is much lower than the demand and it may be more difficult to get a second lawyer to provide free legal services. For more information on ways to talk to your lawyer about your concerns, see our Working with the lawyer you have page. You can find links for legal services organizations as well as your state bar association’s legal referral service on our Finding a Lawyer page.
If you feel your lawyer has acted unethically or committed malpractice, the state bar association generally handles attorney complaints in each state and can investigate your claim and discipline the attorney if appropriate.