If you’re unhappy with your disability lawyer, you can fire them at any time — but that doesn’t mean you should.
Let’s take a look at when it’s in your best interest to fire your current legal representation, a few reasons to stick with your lawyer, and how to fire your disability lawyer if you decide it’s necessary.
Like any other profession, there are unscrupulous disability lawyers. A really bad disability lawyer can leave your application in a precarious place, and it’s stressful to be paying for services you aren’t receiving.
You don’t need to be best friends with your lawyer, but they are working for you. Here’s a quick “do or don’t” rubric for evaluating whether or not you
The social security disability claim process is long, so it’s important to have a good lawyer in your corner. Consider firing your disability lawyer in these circumstances:
Most disability lawyers are super busy and have a lot of clients, so it’s important to be realistic with your expectations.
You might want to keep your lawyer if:
A lot of people, understandably, get frustrated with how long the disability claims process takes. Lawyers aren’t there to speed things up; unless there are extreme circumstances (e.g., a terminal illness), the time frame is not something within their control.
There are some rare cases in which you might want to fire your lawyer. But generally, it should be a last resort.
If you still have some relationship with the lawyer but don't think that they're the right fit for you, you can ask them, "I'm considering going in a different direction. Would you waive my fee?"
Good lawyers are likely to waive the fee—or are at least upfront about why they won’t waive the fee (for instance, they’ve already invested a lot of time and resources into the case). But it’s much rarer to want to fire a good lawyer. Bad lawyers are less likely to waive their fee.
If they don't waive their fee, it can be hard to find another lawyer because that means that the first lawyer is entitled to the fee. Then, the second lawyer has to file something called a fee petition. A fee petition can take more work than the actual application does.(And the second lawyer will get less money because it's split with the first lawyer). This makes it very hard to find a new attorney to take your case.
Social security disability lawyers are some of the most commonly needed lawyers in North America, so it might be hard to find a new disability lawyer, especially if the old one won’t waive their fee.
It’s worth repeating: Whatever the problem is with your original lawyer, try one more time to fix it before firing them and finding a new lawyer. Almost always, it’s better to head to a hearing with a lawyer than without one. So unless the situation is dire, if your lawyer won’t waive their fee, it might be better to continue working with them.
If you’ve tried to mediate the situation, and it still doesn’t seem to be going well, contact a few other disability lawyers to see if they’ll take on your case.
If you do fire your disability lawyer, notify them in writing that you’ll be terminating your contract with them. Send a copy of that letter directly to the Social Security Administration as well. It’s a good idea to follow up with the Social Security Administration a few weeks after sending the letter to ensure that your old lawyer was taken off of your claim.
Atticus helps hundreds of people a day find the right lawyer for their case. If you’re looking for advice or new representation, reach out. Our services are always free, and we’re happy to match you with a lawyer you can trust.
When should you fire your disability lawyer? DO fire your disability lawyer if there is lack of communication, they are disrespectful toward you, or they miss deadlines. Finding a new lawyer can be very difficult—so only fire your lawyer if you’re sure they’ll hurt, rather than help, your case.
When should you NOT fire your disability lawyer? Don’t fire your lawyer if they’re communicating when it’s important to do so, they’ve been keeping track of deadlines, and they’ve improved when you’ve brought up concerns. If you can still work with them, and you think they can represent you well, it’s in your best interest to keep them onboard.
What are the risks of firing your lawyer? If you fire your lawyer, and they don’t waive their fee, you’ll have a hard time finding another lawyer. It’s almost always better to have a lawyer (even one you don’t like!) than to not have one at all.
Is it hard to find a new lawyer? Yes, it’s often very hard to find a new lawyer once you’ve fired one. If your first lawyer waives their fee, you may have an easier time.
How do you go about firing your lawyer? If you do fire your disability lawyer, notify them in writing that you’ll be terminating your contract with them. Send a copy of that letter directly to the Social Security Administration as well.
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